The Tara Treatment Center Blog

Diet, Mental Health, Addiction Recovery: H.A.L.T.S.

diet and recovery

What does recovery look like?

Whether you’re in recovery or not, life hands us all stressful situations which require a clear, calm head.  Addiction separates us from our emotions and feelings, and those in early recovery have difficulty reconnecting with them.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, take a step back and ask yourself a few simple questions with the H.A.L.T.S. acronym:

  • When you’re Hungry, nourish yourself with a healthy meal
  • When you’re Angry, acknowledge it and find ways to express it
  • When you’re Lonely, seek out a good friend or invite someone to hang out
  • When you’re Tired, sleep
  • When you’re Sick, find a way to reach out and take care of yourself


A Closer Look At the H.A.L.T.S. Strategy

H.A.L.T.S. Healthy Eating

Within the H.A.L.T.S. model, H stands for hungry–meaning that if you find yourself getting upset, you should stop and look at your eating habits.  


Mike Denton, M.S., LCAC, LMFT has nearly 40 years in the field of mental health and addiction recovery, and is an expert on the topic.  He explains that “I was first exposed to H.A.L.T.S. when I got sober myself forty years ago.  In practice, I have observed that food is the last thing a person cares about when they are in active addiction.  Once they get a little sober-time, you see a corresponding weight gain of 7-14 kg.  It is common for those in early recovery to lack discipline–often their will power is occupied by resisting the urge to use a substance in the first place.  This is normal and simply takes time to rebuild discipline.”

Mike goes on to explain the impulsive mindset of a person in early recovery.  “Our impulsive lifestyle tends to destroy our daily routine.  Getting back into a set schedule with determined meal times can be difficult.  Discipline needs to be built up slowly to resist our impulsive urges, such as overeating.”  

“When we find ourselves with that ‘itch’ , the best way to scratch it is to reach for fresh fruit.  The trick is accessibility–have a banana ready–just peel it and eat it!  This can really curb our impulsive habits.

H.A.L.T.S. Diet Mental Health
H.A.L.T.S Fruit for Mental Health

Randel Kling is a Mental Health Nutrition Researcher and founder of the popular facebook group “Mental Health Nutrition”.


Randel believes that physical health and mental health are inextricably linked.  “Everyone understands the relationship between eating and getting over weight, but very few understand that food affects mood.”

He encourages individuals to do their own research to build a proper diet.  He notes the importance of getting the healthy fats that the brain needs–such as from avocados.

H.A.L.T.S. food journal


All specialists interviewed advocate increased accountability by keeping a food journal.  Recording your eating habits is the first step towards changing them!

For other tips on recovery-based lifestyle changes, check out these healthy hobbies!

Art as Therapy
Y12SR: Recovery Yoga with Becky Mann