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A New Take on Nutrition

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A New Take on Nutrition

Nutrition can make a major difference in people’s health. In fact, access to healthy food is one of the social determinants of health. In recognition of this, Caz Recovery has a dedicated Nutritionist on staff as part of our wellness efforts funded by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. Danyel Brewer, our Nutritionist, is a Registered Dietitian and graduated from Buffalo State College.

Nutrition & Substance Use Disorders

People often think she’s going to focus on weight, but that’s not Danyel’s goal. Nutrition can impact many parts of our residents’ lives, and not just weight. “Let’s talk about how nutrition can help you sleep better, manage your cravings, and reduce your anxiety and depression,” Danyel said. “That’s what excites me in this type of setting.” Danyel gives residents tools and tips that can bring balance back to their relationship with food.

Danyel Brewer, Nutritionist, at a recent outing to Hobuck Flats
Danyel Brewer, Nutritionist, at a recent outing to Hobuck Flats

In active use, many people with substance use disorders don’t eat healthily. “It’s usually just whatever’s available,” said Danyel. Sometimes, improving nutrition can be something as basic as reinforcing three meals a day or just having breakfast. Conveniently, these new habits can help to replace unhealthy old ones while they help our residents build new routines.

To help establish these new routines, Danyel introduces residents to different kinds of simple recipes. She tries to make them plant-based, and they’re always affordable. In a recent group at Turning Point House, she helped residents cook a simple dish with farro, zucchini, and asparagus. “I can guarantee that by the time you leave, I’ll find something you like.” Danyel also meets with residents in one-on-one nutrition consultations where she helps people with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, or just wanting to work on their health. She helps new moms with lactation consultations and connections to WIC, too.

Putting Nutrition Into Practice

Todd’s a current resident at Turning Point House, and he’s really benefited from partnering with Danyel on his nutrition. He takes advantage of her one-on-one Zoom meetings to talk about his nutrition and fitness goals. “She really elaborated on a lot of things,” said Todd. Together, Todd and Danyel reviewed how his eating habits can reflect his mental health and impact his sobriety.

Todd, a resident at Turning Point House
Todd, a resident at Turning Point House

Perhaps most importantly, Danyel helped Todd to see food in a new way. “It’s not about labeling food as good or bad,” he said. “It’s all about moderation and being more mindful and aware.” Todd said that this new perspective is “super encouraging” for him and helps him to not feel discouraged when it comes to his food choices. He described himself as a “huge fan” of ice cream, and this new way of looking at food allows him to continue having it in moderation. “I just need to be more aware of when I eat it,” he explained. Having it in earlier in the day is a much healthier choice than late at night. All of these changes with his relationship with food have led to a direct impact on his mental health. “My depression and anxiety have gone down dramatically,” said Todd. “It’s been extremely beneficial.”

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