Care Through Culinary™: Nourishing the Mind, Body, and Soul

All Foods Fit and Intuitive Eating Principles

We believe that all foods can fit into a nutritionally sound meal plan that’s balanced and features a variety of foods. This is an important concept for everyone, and it means eating different foods every day versus restricting or limiting variety. Variety can mean incorporating different colors of fruits and vegetables into meals or choosing something different for meals each day rather than reverting to what feels comfortable or safe. Eating intuitively means listening to your body and preferences while creating a sense of allowance for all foods. This helps reduce the “feast or famine” mentality with foods such as sweets.

At Toledo Center, we start by rejecting the diet mentality and eliminating the idea that there are “allowed” foods and “prohibited” foods. The goal at Toledo Center is to strive toward Intuitive Eating, which promotes 10 principles that recognize and honor hunger and the decisions about what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. Intuitive Eating eliminates the “should” and “should nots” of eating as well as diet culture telling us when to stop eating instead of listening to our bodies. By rejecting diet culture, we help our clients make peace with food and allow them to focus on satisfaction. Food can be filling but not satisfying which can make us want to eat more even though we aren’t hungry. We aim to not just provide healthy, nutritious, and satisfying meals to our clients during treatment, but to also teach them how to meal plan and cook satisfying meals after treatment.

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The Care Through Culinary™ Difference

Nutrition: A Vital Part of Treatment

Food is often an overlooked component of quality care. However, we’ve found that serving high-quality, thoughtfully prepared, fresh, and nutritious food has a direct impact on how clients approach their treatment. Nourishing the mind and body is part of our whole-person approach to care as it helps accelerate each person’s path towards recovery.

At Toledo Center, nutrition takes center stage. Being heard, listened to, and cared for aligns with therapies tailored to help each client learn the techniques needed to overcome anxiety or fears associated with foods. Learning to balance nutrition, prepare meals, and handle exposures in locations where fresh or specific foods aren’t available like airports, stadiums, or convenience stores is important when it comes to rebalancing relationships with food and choosing recovery.

And entering residential treatment can be scary when clients are away from home and the people, things, and foods that are familiar. A gesture like someone asking about a client’s favorite meal and then cooking it for them on their first night can make them feel accepted and welcome.

Care Through Culinary™: Helping Our Client Progress In Their Recoveries

The Nutritional and Culinary Teams at Toledo Center are dedicated to not just preparing nutritious food, but to extending the care we offer our clients through it. For us, culinary excellence means nourishing the mind and body. That nourishment can take multiple forms like learning how to plan, shop, and prepare well-balanced meals, building supportive communities with others during meals, or enjoying foods that may be new along with the familiar smells and tastes of home. It can also mean learning how to overcome a fear or try something new with the help of our clinical teams who are there every step of the way.

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Grateful Toledo Center Client

“I liked making the Kabobs in cooking group. This is a meal I thought I would not like but I really liked the flavor. This meal reminds me of home because my mom would make this.”

-Grateful Toledo Center Client

Executive Director Kelly Brown and the Toledo Center Culinary Team

“Food is a potent and scientifically grounded means of not only replenishing vital energy stores of an eating disorder client’s metabolically stressed body, but also of restoring the integrity of the brain’s circuits devoted to attention, perception, and executive functioning. Our kitchen is where our medicine is delivered to our clients.”

- Executive Director Kelly Brown and the Toledo Center Culinary Team

Investing in Culinary Excellence

In 2020, Toledo Center undertook a complete overhaul of their culinary program to institute a true Care Through Culinary™ experience for each of our clients. The food preparation area for clients was completely transformed into a gourmet kitchen, which allowed us to shift to made-from-scratch menus. We also hired a chef to bring nutritious, delicious, and made-with-care meals to our residents. To celebrate, the first thing we made were cupcakes.

Meet the Nutritional and Culinary Staff

Michelle Huepenbecker RDN, LDN – Registered Dietician

As a Registered Dietitian at the Toledo Center, Michelle is responsible for working with clients in both individual and group settings. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Bowling Green State University and completed her dietetic internship at Cedar Crest College. She is currently working towards her master’s in clinical counseling from Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio. She has a passion for bringing peace and truth about food and our bodies and desires to help clients conquer struggles surrounding diet culture.

If you’re interested in learning more about our Care Through Culinary™
program, contact us today.