Since I’ve been writing about addiction issues I thought I’d offer some nourishing tips and recipes to fortify mind and body during recovery from illness and addiction. I think it’s important to bear in mind that this is not an all or nothing situation. One of the reasons my friend who had made the decision to detox from Xanax had, in my opinion, managed (weathered, endured, survived) the ordeal so well was that despite her addiction, she had been taking pretty good care of herself. She exercised, ate well, and took vitamins.
We are all full of contradictions. We take great care of ourselves in some ways and then fall short in others. Who among us has not over consumed, be it food or alcohol? How many of us sit for too many hours each day or avoid exercise? And how often do we try to do the right thing, especially around food, and then read that this or that “good food” is now bad for us?
Newsflash! None of us is perfect. We set goals we fall short. We try. We fail. For these reasons, I’m a big proponent of baby steps or more fitting for this blog—one bite at a time. Whether it is exercise or incorporating healthy ingredients into your diet, start small and work your way up. Feel the success of your efforts. Notice how good you feel after you’ve walked ten minutes. As a lifelong swimmer, I was gratified to learn that those of us who notice how we feel after we exercise are the ones who stick with it. There isn’t a time I have gotten out of the pool when I haven’t said, “God did that feel good!”
Making healthy swaps in recipes you are already familiar with is a great place to begin nourishing mind, body, and spirit in recovery. For instance, the addition of blueberries to pancakes instantly boosts their nutritional profile. Blueberries are great brain food. Go really wild and swap out the white flour with sprouted wheat and soon you can do your superiority dance around the kitchen. Sprouted flour digests more easily then white flour, retains the nutrients of the grain, and is delicious in baked goods. As someone who has spent a lifetime trying to stretch a dollar, I understand you might balk at the price of sprouted flours. They are becoming more reasonably priced, but as my husband always says, “there is always a cost.” Organic fruits and vegetables and sprouted grains are worth the cost. Again, start small. I typically do what I can. I spend more on food and less at the doctor or on make-up or clothing.
On tonight’s menu I’m making Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. The recipe originated when I needed to use up the sweet potatoes that were lying around. I’m not a huge fan of sweet potato pie (GASP!) but I want their health benefits. A Mexican twist on stuffed sweet potatoes is my answer. Tonight I added finely chopped zucchini because it was in the fridge and we get more vegetables with the addition. I also swapped cooked barley for the rice. Have fun and experiment!
The act of cooking by itself has a number of benefits. Cooking requires focus. While we focus on making a meal we are not focusing on our troubles. Bonus—cooking takes up time. For a person in recovery, cooking is a nice way to occupy oneself. Cooking is also a productive use of time. You are immediately rewarded and so are your loved ones. People love having someone cook for them.
Caring for self is particularly difficult for a person in the throes of addiction. Any act of self-care is a step in the right direction. Acknowledge and be grateful for the little steps you do take and then take another step. I understand the vicious cycle of shame and regret that often holds us back. I spent years regretting not taking full advantage of my time when I attended the University of Michigan. I smoked cigarettes and drank heavily. It saddens me now when I see how many college students waste their student loan dollars on excessive alcohol use.
During that time, I had not realized that I was grieving over the loss of my brother who had died in a plane crash. Grief turned to depression, which was exacerbated by alcohol use. I also did not realize there was help to be had. Even though I worked as a Resident Advisor, I was unaware that the university had counseling services for students. For years I beat myself up over the fact of not making the most of the opportunity a University of Michigan education offered. Not until many years later did it occur to me that I had been reaching for life as strongly as I had been self-destructing. Throughout college I wrote to my deceased brother in my journals daily. I took many long walks in and around Ann Arbor. I worked hard to pay for the education. I was not just about self-destruction. I was also about self-preservation.
Many of us duel with the life/death struggle in our minds and actions until one voice becomes stronger. When I began lap swimming, the self-care voice strengthened and I was able to quit smoking and take one step after another toward a healthy lifestyle. I am grateful to myself that I started swimming. The domino effect has led to where I am today and which I hope to impart to you here. Do what works for you. No need for lofty goals. Even after 35 years of lap swimming to get myself to the pool I promise I don’t have to do much. I check in with how I feel as I am swimming. I do 250 meter increments and make the decision after each set whether to keep going. In that way, I can take what seems like a lot (a mile swim) and break it down to doable. Another sound bite from husband, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Crazy Healthy but Tasty Blueberry Pancakes
1 C sprouted wheat flour
1/2 C sourdough starter (if you don’t have on hand use another 1/4 C sprouted flour)
1 T date sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/4 C plain kefir
2 T coconut oil
1/2 to 1 C fresh or frozen blueberries
Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Mix dry ingredients together sieving the baking powder. Mix the wet ingredients together and add to dry. Melt butter or use cooking spray on hot skillet. Using a quarter cup measure or ice cream scoop drop batter onto skillet and top each with blueberries. When bubbles form on surface flip over until golden on each side. Top with warmed maple syrup.
Mexican Style Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 T olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes or leftover sauce whatever you have in your pantry.
1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
1 C dried sprouted brown rice or barley in this case then follow directions on package to prepare before adding to sauce.
Fresh parsley finely chopped
1/2 t dried Mexican oregano
dried chili peppers to taste
s & p
2-4 small sweet potatoes (baked or microwaved until soft. I use Ziploc steamer bags http:www.ziploc.com ).
Shredded cheddar, salsa, sour cream to your liking.
Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté onions, peppers, and garlic until soft but not burned. Add black beans, tomatoes, and seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste. Split sweet potatoes lengthwise down the middle, smash pulp a bit as you would any baked potato and top with black bean mixture. Top with shredded cheddar and other toppings to taste.