Elk River Teen Treatment Program

Gut Health is Linked to Mental Health

Our holistic approach to treatment includes healthy diet, nutrition, exercise

Nutrition's Role in Good Mental Health

Menus Developed by Registered Dietitian

Food plays an important role in mental health. Residents at our facility are provided well balanced meals with a variety of flavors, colors and rich in all necessary vitamins and minerals. Our seasonal menus are developed by our registered dietitian and are periodically reviewed and modified. We focus on seasonal produce and minimally processed foods. Meals consist of proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. 

Discovering New Foods, New Cultures

While we focus on well balanced meals and snacks, we also introduce foods from new cultures to broaden residents’ horizons. Many residents discover new foods they did not know they enjoyed and experience dishes ranging from Indian curry to German bratwursts with sauerkraut. Residents are provided food in a structured environment, and unlike many other programs, sweets are not given as a replacement for dealing with emotions or substance abuse issues. We accommodate food allergies and cultural dietary needs. 

Link Established Between Gut Health and Mental Health

A growing body of evidence links gut health with mental health. We serve several items each day that promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria to encourage overall wellness, including mental health. Our diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium, but provides adequate nutrition for growth and development. We focus on healthy fats and remove processed foods that trigger the same pleasure hormones as drugs. Fish is served several days each week, which is beneficial for brain development as it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which play an important role in the transmission of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Some research also suggests omega 3 fatty acids may reduce symptoms of depression. Low and high blood sugar levels, often triggered by eating refined grains, can impact a person’s mood. Our grains are primarily whole grains, which help stabilize blood sugar levels and mood. 

Barriers Related to Food Addressed

Our dietitian assesses each resident’s needs upon admission and then periodically thereafter based on their level of nutritional risk. Weight and food intake is monitored on a weekly basis and addressed promptly by our dietitian and medical staff as needed. Our dietitian also works with residents regarding attitudes and behaviors surrounding food and helps address any barriers related to eating. Tailored education is provided to patients as needed, including mindfulness while eating, identification of appropriate and healthy food choices and confronting disordered eating habits and behaviors.