How Does a Healthy Diet Improve Mental Health in Addiction Recovery?

June 19, 2023

Written By: Robert J. Miles MSN RN, BS Nutrition

If you struggle with your mental health alongside addiction, you are not alone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that 37.9% of individuals with substance abuse disorders (SUDs) also struggle with mental illnesses. Furthermore, 18.2% of those with a mental illness also struggle with SUD. As the two types of diagnoses are related, improving your mental health can have a big impact on your recovery. There are many ways to care for your mental health, and a healthy diet is one of them. While attending treatment at Buena Vista Recovery, you will partake in a healthy diet. What’s more, you will also learn how to improve your diet in the future.

What Is a Healthy Diet at an Arizona Recovery Center?

While you are in treatment for addiction, you will have a very structured environment. This includes how you spend your days, the details of your treatment plan, and what you eat. Treatment at Buena Vista Recovery incorporates a healthy diet that includes hospital-standard nutrition. However, you may wonder what that really means.

A healthy diet at an Arizona recovery center includes fresh, healthy, and nutritious food. This means you won’t find processed foods like cookies and candies. Instead, you will find fresh fruits and vegetables, home-cooked well-balanced meals, and a variety of options that will fit your specific dietary needs.

While a healthy diet will look different for each person, it usually incorporates certain factors. This includes very few to no processed foods. Additionally, it includes lots of nutritious foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and more. It also involves eating a variety of foods that sustain your body well. Therefore, an ideal meal would not consist of only lettuce. Instead, it would include other vegetables, proteins such as eggs, and nuts or avocados for healthy fats.

Improving Mental Health With a Healthy Diet

Having a healthy diet both in an Arizona recovery center and after can greatly improve your mental health. A healthy diet is, therefore, an important part of relapse prevention. By eating well-balanced and healthy meals, you can improve your mood and focus and decrease your risk of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.


Being in a good mood can improve your daily life and your recovery. When you are in a better mood, you have more tolerance for stressful situations and you can connect with loved ones with ease. However, when you are in a negative mood, you may feel irritable and unhappy. This in turn can make having good relationships difficult and impact your recovery greatly.

When you eat fresh and nutritious food regularly and avoid junk food, you are providing calm and comfort to your body and brain. You are likely to feel energetic and have a more stable mood. An obvious example is to imagine a child who ate all their Halloween candy one morning. Due to the sugar rush in the morning, their mood might be flying. However, in the afternoon and evening, it may be very low. This same thing can happen to you.


If you struggle with a mental health disorder like anxiety and depression, a lack of focus may be one of your symptoms. As a result, your may struggle to stay on task at work and have a good self-care plan. Additionally, if you are in recovery from addiction, this lack of focus will put you at risk for relapse.

Fortunately, a healthy diet can make a significant difference in your focus. When you eat a healthy and balanced diet regularly, you are receiving the brain fuel you need. Therefore, you can use this energy to complete tasks at work or home and care for your needs in recovery. Changing your diet to one that is more balanced and incorporating more whole foods is an easy and effective way to manage symptoms of both anxiety and depression. This basic change can make you feel better daily.

Taking the First Step at an Arizona Recovery Center

Learning to change your diet takes time. Getting support and assistance as you make this change can really help. The first step for recovering from addiction and a mental health disorder is treatment. Attending treatment at Buena Vista Recovery, an Arizona recovery center, is a good first step.

When you are in treatment at Buena Vista, you get a taste of what it looks like to eat a nutritious diet that helps improve your mental health. This gives you an example of how you can eat after treatment. This experience with healthy eating will also be motivating. When you eat healthfully during your time in treatment, you will feel the difference. Because of this, when you go home, you’re more likely to stick with it. You’ll realize that you can improve your mental health by choosing a healthy and nutritious diet.

Creating a healthy diet can feel daunting. However, a healthy diet can make a significant difference in your mental health by improving your mood, helping you to think more clearly, and improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. The first step to healing is treatment. At Buena Vista Recovery, we believe that eating healthy is an important piece of healing from mental health disorders and addiction. We believe that you can make changes that will help you feel better, no matter where you are now. To learn more about our programs and take the first step toward recovery, call us today at (480) 741-9414. We look forward to helping you recover and move forward into a healthier life.