Monday, April 21, 2008

Who am I?

I'm Sharon, a registered dietitian with a special interest in recovery. I'm the adult child of two alcoholic parents, the sister of a cocaine addict, and the mother of two daughters in recovery. In other words, I have a lot of close up personal experience with addiction and recovery. My mother was an active alcholic for most of her life. She died at age 67 from complications related to Alzheimer's. Until her death, she was a pretty healthy woman despite her years of heavy drinking. For some reason that defies common sense, my mother always had a hearty appetite and ate well regardless of her alcohol intake. I think, had she not suffered from Alzheimer's, she would have lived to a ripe old age even though longevity is not common in our family. I attribute her healthy constitution to her diet. She ate lots of vegetables, fruits and a hearty serving of chocolate every day. This was before we knew what an antioxidant was so she didn't eat that way for health but because she liked it. One daughter was an active heroin addict for 15 years-now with three years in recovery! I fed my kids well growing up. She would come home every once in a while from her life on the streets for a Mommy Fix. I fed her lots of good healthy food. She slept. She bathed. She relaxed. Then she went out again. I believe her diet has played a role in her healthy recovery as well.

I've always been interested in food-eating it (especially), shopping for it, cooking it and learning about it. I believe in food. I believe in the power of food. I believe that eating well can make a difference in a person's life. I think it made a difference in my family's life. I don't always practice what I preach so if you see me chowing down on a fried chicken wing or a double hot fudge sundae, just smile and wave.

Because of my experiences loving people who have suffered with substance abuse issues, I have wanted to understand as much as possible about the disease. To that end, I recently completed a program in chemical dependency treatment. I have to admit that I didn't learn anything new. I guess my years of family involvement taught me what was in the books.

When my daughters were actively using, I searched for answers on the internet, called doctors, talked to therapists, attended meetings. Since I'm a dietitian, I also searched for nutrition advice but my search came up pretty empty. What I found was general recommendations that would be made to anyone-healthy or not-but very little specifically for chemically dependent people. And what about detox, I wondered? Are there special needs during detox? In recovery? What about three months or six months or two years of sobriety, are there special needs still?

So, here we are. Not sure where this will go but that's what's exciting about it. We will research and learn together. We're going to be visiting rehabs and sober living houses. We want to find out what sober people want to know about nutrition. And then we hope to be able to supply the information-information targeted to the sober community.

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