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Teaching Nutrition To Mothers In Recovery

Can you name a food that can help with depression and chemical dependency? Most of us can’t, but that’s one takeaway moms in family residential treatment at Avivo learn in a new nutritional health learning program.

Christianne Arnold, doctoral student at the University of Minnesota – School of Nursing, has spent months researching and creating a curriculum for Avivo centered on nutrition, and its benefits to recovery and overall mental health.

She describes good nutrition as being foundational (referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy) to realize your full potential as a person. “I feel like it’s a crucial thing for people with any kind of health issue to be taken care of on a nutritional level,” Christianne says.

“I feel like it’s a crucial thing for people with any kind of health issue to be taken care of on a nutritional level.”

Over the past few months she’s partnered with Steve Gordon, manager of Avivo’s family residential treatment program, to create lessons they think will benefit participants in recovery. They meet weekly, and create a lesson plan for a combination of hands-on and classroom learning.

Christianne will graduate with her Doctor of Nursing Practice in May. She has been training Steve to lead the nutrition program when she leaves. “Steve’s been amazing,” she says. “He’s really invested in the work and concepts and ideas.”

Teaching the mothers in attendance, Steve shares a mixture of stories and nutritional facts that are of direct interest to people in recovery. “I’d like to see mothers learn how to pick foods that can relieve symptoms of addiction, such as omega-3 fats found in fish, instead of foods that create symptoms,” Steve says.

“The women… their strength and courage is inspiring.”

Christianne has enjoyed her experience working with Steve and partnering with Avivo. She’s been happy to see how staff has embraced the importance of nutrition to mental health and recovery, and is proud of the women she’s taught.

“I’m honored to be a part of this program,” she says. “The women… their strength and courage is inspiring.”