The Reasons Why We Cook in Recovery

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During your recovery journey, you'll need to relearn how to take on responsibilities outside of the treatment bubble. You may need to relearn how to keep track of your schedule, how to maintain a clean home, and how to find hobbies you enjoy. Additionally, you may need to learn or relearn how to cook. There are many ways learning how to cook can be beneficial to your recovery. We cook for nutrition, for self-care and independence, and sometimes even for fun.

Learning why we cook will help you understand the many benefits of making your own meals.

We Cook for Nutrition

When you eat out, you don't know what ingredients are going into your food. You may have a general idea of the type of nutrients you'll get from a slice of pizza or chicken curry. However, you won't know exactly what nutrients you're getting.

When you cook for yourself, you know what you will be consuming. Creating your meals can help you eat healthier because you can plan what nutrients you get from each meal. Some types of substance use disorder (SUD) deplete your nutrients. Thus, it is even more essential to be conscientious of what you put in your body.

Helping Our Metabolisms Heal

Certain substances like alcohol damage organs involved in your metabolic process. Symptoms related to substance use and withdrawal such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting can also negatively impact your metabolism. Other substances such as cocaine and marijuana will mess with your metabolism by reducing or increasing your appetite.

When we cook nutritious meals, we are giving our bodies what they need to function. The way we cook can help our metabolisms heal.

Getting Creative in the Kitchen

Having more control over what you put in your body leads to a higher likelihood that you'll enjoy the meal. You can get creative in the kitchen by introducing yourself to different vegetables, herbs, spices, and fruit. Remember: a healthy diet is a well-balanced diet. It will usually involve all major food groups such as fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy.

Diets and calorie counting can lead to unhealthy restrictions. Instead, it's better to eat mindfully. This means eating when you're hungry and stopping when you feel full. Many treatment facilities, such as Pathways Recovery Center, offer mindfulness-based practices that can help you eat mindfully.

The Benefits of Eating Nutritiously

Eating nutritiously will not only restore the nutrients in your body. It will also give you physical and emotional energy. Re-introducing the pleasure of consuming a delicious meal can also help reduce relapse urges and cravings.

Creating what you consume can help you enjoy it more. You are the most equipped person to create a meal that you'll love because no one knows your taste buds better than you. Eating a meal that you made will also give you the satisfaction of having used your skills to make something wonderful.

Some physical benefits of eating nutritiously include:

  • Lowering your risk of heart disease
  • Strengthening your muscles
  • Helping your digestive system
  • Strengthening your bones
  • Lowering your risk of diabetes

Eating healthy can also boost your mood because the state of your body affects your mind and vice versa. You might feel like you have more energy when you have a well-balanced diet.

We Cook for Self-Care and Independence

Along with learning basic household chores, learning how to cook is part of learning how to take care of yourself. During your recovery journey, you might have to relearn skills that will help you function in your day-to-day life. Learning how to cook is an important step toward becoming independent after attending residential treatment.

Food shopping and prep can help you create a schedule for yourself. It can uphold structure in your life which will help you stay focused on your recovery goals. Finally, it can increase your confidence in life.

We Cook for Fun

For some people, cooking can turn into a passion. Part of your recovery journey will be discovering and rediscovering your interests. Cooking can be a source of creativity, connection, and fun. Food is often tied to people's cultures. When you share food with others, you share a part of yourself, which can lead to meaningful connections.

Cooking can also help you find community. You can find community in online cooking forums, cooking classes, or gatherings with hungry friends and family members. Some recovery facilities like Pathways Recovery Center may provide cooking classes.

Additionally, cooking can provide a way for you to give back to your community. You can help out at a soup kitchen, cook dinner for an overwhelmed loved one, or host a potluck with your friends.

Cooking alone also has benefits. The activity of cooking can be therapeutic and calming. It's an activity that involves all of your senses: taste, smell, and touch. This makes it an excellent opportunity for practicing mindfulness.

Why Should We Cook in Recovery?

Learning how to cook can help you sustain a successful recovery. Of course, you don't need to become a master chef. However, knowing how to make a delicious and nutritious meal is important for learning how to live independently. Cooking like a master chef will not always be a realistic way to give yourself nutrition. You need to learn to cook in a way that works with your schedule.

This might mean learning how to make meals that are nutritious and easy. You'll also discover how you like to make meals. You might decide that you like planning out your meals for the week, pre-prepping, and making large portions of meals so that you'll have leftovers for the rest of the week. You'll learn what you like through trial and error.

Learning how to cook can help you maintain your emotional and physical well-being so that you can concentrate on your recovery journey. Relearning responsibilities to take care of yourself post-treatment is essential for a successful and sustained recovery. In addition to providing cooking classes, Pathways Recovery Center is dedicated to preparing you for life outside of treatment by offering aftercare treatment and a sober living community. Our mental health professionals can work closely with you to create a treatment plan that will teach you the tools to have a successful recovery post-treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, call (888) 771-0966 to learn how we can meet you where you are in recovery.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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