Nutrition at Discovery Ranch For Girls
Discovery Ranch’s integrative approach to mental health includes addressing the dietary needs of our students--we believe that the two of them are inextricably linked. Research reveals a direct link between our diets and mood, and the food your daughter eats affects her mood, behavior, and her brain function. Many mental health concerns stem from poor self-care related to inadequate nutrition such as under or over eating. What girls eat and how it affects their body also plays a factor in body and personal image.
On-Site Nurse and Professional Chef
Discovery Ranch’s nurse and head chef ensure that our students are eating balanced diets and are learning how to continue healthy eating once they return home. We help our girls function better mentally and emotionally by addressing their physical needs, which is one of the crucial foundations of health.
Balanced Diet, Balanced Living
Discovery Ranch brings balance back to our girls' lives by promoting a healthy lifestyle based on wellness. Wellness is a balance of physical, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional elements in life and making positive choices in these areas. We integrate Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) concepts of mindful eating in each girl’s life to develop patterns of healthy eating and to prevent a lifestyle of ongoing dieting. Mindful eating helps girls bring balance back into their lives regarding their relationship with food and their body.
Mindful Meals with the Girls at Discovery Ranch
Marliett Davis, CSW, has a weekly ritual that she does with the girls called “Mindful Meals with Marliett”:
The girls always get their meals and a worksheet that I bring, and they sit down. Every week I lead them through a short mindfulness exercise to help them soothe their unpleasant emotions and to get them into a place where they are more in tune with what it feels like to be in their bodies.
Knowing what they are sensing and feeling is the most important thing at Mindful Meals. After the mindfulness portion, we always take the first bite together. So, again they bring their attention to their senses and choose a food they’d like to try first. The girls write down everything they can learn from their senses about their food: texture, smell, temperature, colors, etc. This is vital because it brings them into the present and helps activate the neural centers in their brains to prepare the mouth and the stomach for the food they are about to eat.
Research shows “that approximately 40%-60% of your metabolic power at any meal, meaning your digestive and your assimilation power at any meal comes from cephalic phase digestive response, the head phase digestion meaning taste, pleasure, aroma satisfaction and your visuals” (Marc David, Psychology of Eating: Mind Over Nutrition, http://psychologyofeating.com/mind-over-nutrition/).
There are so many reasons why it’s helpful and important for these girls (and every other human on the planet) to bring their mindfulness to the moment that they are eating. Not only does it activate the cephalic phase of digestion so that they are able to digest their food more effectively, but it also helps them to learn that they can soothe themselves in other ways than their previous and often destructive ways of coping.