Q&A with Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN, CDCES
Q: Why is nutrition so vial for addiction recovery?
We fuel our bodies through nutrition. If we want our bodies to work optimally then we need to put the right type of fuel in them. For most people who suffer from addiction, eating well balanced and nutrient dense meals has not been a priority. Their nutritional requirements have been neglected and they have become deficient in many vital nutrients necessary for optimal health, but thankfully with proper dietary intake and vitamins we can replenish those deficiencies and clients can start to feel better.
Q: What is a typical day like for you at Destination Hope?
I am fortunate enough to work with the clients at both campuses. I see every single client within their first few days at Destination Hope and provide an assessment on each client. We go over their individual goals and make sure that all their dietary restrictions and/or allergies are made aware to staff. I work individually with each client in addition to leading instructional group sessions on nutrition related topics. When not working directly with the clients, I am working with our kitchen staff to ensure all our clients are getting healthy yet tasty meals.
Q: What is the most rewarding for you?
I am one of the first people that our clients meet and one of the last people they meet with before they leave us. I get to watch them heal. I get to watch them become the person they are meant to be without drugs. As they recover, their personalities change and they are not the same person they were when they first walked in our doors.
Q: And what is most challenging?
Many clients have a poor relationship with food and disordered eating behaviors. Making them understand that these behaviors are not about the food but underlying issues that need to be resolved can be challenging but ultimately is rewarding.
Q: How do you build rapport with your clients, most of whom are struggling on so many different levels, when you initially meet them?
I try to find some sort of common ground with them. I make sure that they understand that I’m here to help them as much as they like or as little as they like, providing there are no medical issues that need to be addressed. I let them see that I am not a perfect eater all the time and that they are not expected to be either. I am not their therapist, but I do offer them an ear when needed and I let them know that we are all here to help them get better.
Q: What is one example of a rewarding coaching experience you had at Destination Hope?
A former client contacted me a little while ago thanking me, stating that because of what I taught him here at Destination Hope he has changed the way he eats and just signed up for his first Spartan Race.
Q: Does your role at Destination Hope ever take you outside your role as a Dietitian/Nutritionist?
At Destination Hope we are all team players and work collaboratively as a team, so when another department needs help I am more than willing to help in any way I can.
Q: How do you collaborate with the chef at Destination Hope to make the menu both satisfying and nutritious?
We take into consideration our population, their requests and dietary needs and we get creative. Healthy can still be delicious.
Q: What dietary changes have been made at Destination Hope in the last few years to improve the day to day nutritional quality of your client’s diets?
We have incorporated more plant based options for our clients and have expanded the variety of foods that we offer them.
Q: What new meal has been the most popular addition to your menus?
For our meat eaters we started offering filet mignon and they seem to love it. For our clients who don’t eat mean, they seems to love our mixed green salad with strawberries, feta, and walnuts. We are always trying new menu options so that clients don’t get bored with their food options.