Nutrition and Recovery

When people suffering from addiction enter treatment and stop using, they often develop a more intense interest in food – often sugary, high-carb, or high-fat choices like doughnuts or mac and cheese. Usually, before they know it, they’re packing on the pounds. Those who have abused alcohol and other drugs likely had a poor relationship with food at the same time, eating whatever pleased them, and some were malnourished. Addiction experts know that what these people are really doing is substituting one drug for another. Both substances make the brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up, which explains why food takes on added importance for them. Many treatment centers promote the idea of healthy eating, and treating people with substance use disorders holistically, but it’s an integral part of the program at Summit Estate Recovery Center. Angela Goncalves, Director of Operations at Summit, even brought a cookbook targeted to those in recovery from her former center, Malibu Beach Recovery Center, to Summit. “I was the Director of Operations at [the former] Malibu Beach Recovery Center from September 2007 to September 2014,” she says. “I saw how effective our diet was for clients struggling to recover from drugs and alcohol. The food was not only delicious, but it boosted dopamine levels.  When I became Director of Operations at Summit Estate Recovery Center in the Silicon Valley, I immediately distributed copies of our cookbook, then known as Dopamine for Dinner, to the chef and staff. It’s the basis of the wonderful meals we serve, and our clients look and feel super healthy.” The basis of the cookbook is the approach to food taken by a French executive in the pharmaceutical industry who developed a diet for himself based on low-glycemic foods. It’s noteworthy that even the chefs who cook the recipes — and contributed to the book — noticed how much healthier the clients look since consuming the foods in the book. There’s this from the Introduction: “….[A]ddicts of all sorts (illicit drugs, prescription drugs and/or alcohol), can recover more easily by following a version of [this diet]. The goal was not weight loss, but regaining emotional balance and health, restoring chronically low dopamine levels and expediting brain repair. The diet also makes recovery more probable for diabetics.” and “Although we call this a ‘diet,’ his is not a diet in the traditional sense. There are no calories to count, and we don’t ask that our clients memorize the values of the Glycemic Index. There are no long lists of forbidden ingredients. Rather the recipes are based on an abundance of allowable products that will enrich and enhance culinary possibilities, and may introduce ingredients that had not been a habitual staple in their nutritional habits.” The cookbook is also for alumni of the two programs (MBRC and Summit), and the “hundreds of thousands of Americans just like them – alcoholics and addicts seeking to achieve long-term recovery through a lifestyle change.” Note: The Barnes and Noble version of Dopamine for Dinner (now called the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet Cookbook by Joan Borsten) can be purchased from Amazon at this link: