Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Weighing In

Many of our clients, once in recovery from drugs and alcohol, pick up a new addiction: eating.

And we see evidence of this all over TLC. It's not uncommon for clients to gain 20, 30, 40, 50, even 100 pounds, after they've been with us a while.

And while TLC is a program designed to help them recover from substance abuse our mission goes beyond that. That statement says we " recovering substance abusers rebuild their lives."

But the reality is that we have no formal structure to teach clients to eat properly or how to lose weight. This is often on my mind because we have so many clients with diabetes, high blood pressure, or who are morbidly overweight.

And in discussions with them I recognize that losing weight is probably as tough a battle as quitting drugs or tobacco.

Many have the idea that if they change to a plant-centric diet they won't "get enough protein." But odds are they've never met anyone in their lifetime who suffered a protein deficiency. I know I haven't. And most don't know the first thing about protein requirements or how much protein is provided in a plant-based diet. They subscribe to the myth that animal protein is somehow superior.

I think for many eating is another form of self gratification. Most don't think of eating as a way to fuel their bodies. Instead they view eating as entertainment or recreation - and pay the price in calorie intake and weight gain.

Some clients go to the gym to lose weight. But while exercise is good, better eating habits is the best way to lose weight. After all, one must run a mile burn an apple.

I'm not sure how to provide motivation for those who're unhappy about their weight. I believe one must be on fire to change any bad habit. One must get over the idea that the purpose of eating is to "get full." The real purpose of eating is to be not hungry, not to "get full."

There’s a myriad of literature and education for those who want to learn more about plant-based nutrition. One of the best resources is  This site features some 1500 short videos about plant-based nutrition and health.  And they are free.

However, the site doesn't offer much in the way of self-discipline or motivation. That has to come from within.

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