Food and Nutrition Habits for Women in Recovery

The nutritional focus at Westminster House is about what to eat.

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Women arrive at Westminster House starving, because feeding their addiction has been more important than feeding their stomachs. Often, women in early recovery are not ready for a nutrition behavior change, since most are simply trying to get past the immediate crisis of addiction and the associated adjustments of abstinence. Entering treatment may even aggravate pre-existing dysfunctional and unhealthy eating behaviors. As a result, we strive to help develop healthy food and nutrition habits for women in recovery.

Westminster House introduces nutrition at the onset of treatment which includes filtered water, dairy and dairy substitutes, premium coffee, assorted teas, and fibrous foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Supplemental vitamins are not administered at Westminster House without a prescription. Supplements do not contain the antioxidant potency of real food, because the phytochemicals that flourish in real food cannot remain stable in a supplemental form.

The most important nutrient for addiction recovery is fiber, which is served at very meal. Eating fiber from food (not fiber supplements) improves gut function and achieves balance in the microorganisms that live throughout the GI tract.

Consumption of highly processed junk food throughout the day can significantly hinder the recovery process in numerous ways:

  • Unstable blood sugar impacts mood and concentration
  • Nutrient-void food can leave clients feeling sluggish and reliant upon caffeine
  • Refined grains, added sugars, and added fats can have a negative impact on mental health

Addicted women will choose addictive food on a daily basis, instinctively selecting food that is highly rewarding and avoiding food that is not. The menu at Westminster House consists of non-addictive food, and therefore the women eat less.

While excessive weight gain is certainly an issue for women in treatment, a bigger problem is undernourishment which limits the ability of the brain to heal from addiction. We believe in promoting healthy food and nutrition habits for women in recovery.

The nutritional focus at Westminster House is not about what not to eat, but about what to eat. Nutrition is never punitive, but rather framed as a helpful component of the recovery process and part of our recovery program.


Credit David Wiss, MS, RDN