Brookhaven Retreat, a unique residential treatment facility exclusively for women with mental health and/or substance abuse issues, acknowledges March as National Nutrition Month®.
Brookhaven Retreat, LLC acknowledges March as National Nutrition Month, a time dedicated to educating people about the importance of eating not merely to satisfy hunger or cravings, but to consider food as medicine to help avoid the onset of disease and illness.
National Nutrition Month began as a one-week event in 1973, but as awareness of the subject grew, it became a month-long event in 1980. This year, the theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.”
The idea of food promoting good health dates way back before 1973. In fact, in 400 B.C. Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” told his students, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”
Food has been used as medicine in every culture since then, and is essential to health whether in maintenance or recovery. Jacqueline Dawes, founder of Brookhaven Retreat, considers nutrition an inherent part of The Lily Program®, the overarching framework for services at Brookhaven Retreat.
The 90-day comprehensive treatment program encompasses a variety of clinical modalities combined and tailored for each client. Charity Coyle, RD (registered dietitian) is on site to make sure clients’ nutritional needs are met, especially those who struggle with eating disorders, changes in appetite and other medical conditions. She provides individualized education as needed, and conducts groups about nutrition, emotional eating and other important topics.
Eating properly is more than eating fruits and vegetables, says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, registered dietician nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Ohio. “While that is important, it’s also essential to make informed food choices based on your individual health and nutrient needs. Knowing which nutrients your body needs, the foods that contain them, and how much fits into your healthy eating plan are all part of making smart choices.”
As mental health can be greatly affected by our level of nourishment or lack thereof, Coyle says, “We like to focus on eating mindfully and intuitively rather than jumping from diet to diet, and changing women’s perception of food as a source of nourishment and enjoyment rather than guilt and regret. If we can be healthy mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, we are able to live a happy and vibrant life.”
Coyle works closely with the kitchen’s head chef, Jeremy Crow, as well as the Dining Team, responsible for planning and preparing meals.
Says Crow, whose southern roots-based cooking style also has touches of classic cuisine and world influences, “I enjoy the one-on-one contact with clients of Brookhaven Retreat knowing I’m playing a part in their recovery.”