Healthy Mind

How One Telehealth Company Is Using Free Virtual Cooking Classes To Help People in Recovery

Emily Laurence

Photo: Getty Images/ RgStudio

Human connection is always important, but it’s become even more crucial during the pandemic—especially for anyone in recovery for alcohol or substance use disorder. Many recovery organizations and resources have adapted to reach people in new ways, including virtual support groups and community forums.

Another new resource for those in recovery: free weekly virtual cooking classes, hosted by telehealth counseling provider Lionrock. Starting January 7, the weekly cooking classes are an expansion of the virtual support groups that Lionrock already offers, aptly called CommUnity. Lionrock co-founder and chief people officer Ashley Loeb Blassingame says the benefits of the cooking classes are twofold: It’s a virtual community activity people in recovery can experience together, and it also teaches people how to make easy, nourishing meals.

“How it works is that the recipes are already posted so people can buy the ingredients ahead of time. During the event, which is led by Lionrock’s nutritionist, everyone sets up their phone or computer in the kitchen and cooks together. Then, we all sit down and eat.” A run-down of some of the featured meals: Chinese rice and protein bowls, black bean burgers, and chicken salad three ways. Blassingame says all the recipes were chosen because they’re quick, easy, healthy, and delicious.

Blassingame says the mealtime conversation naturally tends to focus on the various obstacles people are facing when it comes to creating healthy eating habits. “[For people experiencing alcohol addiction], sugar cravings can be very strong because alcohol metabolizes into sugar,” she says. “We talk about how to navigate those cravings in a healthy way.” She also says some people in recovery are just now learning how to cook nourishing meals for the first time, and are hungry for tips and advice. “For me personally, I spent my teenage years in active addiction, so that wasn’t a time spent learning how to cook, meal prep, or feed myself properly,” she says.

The classes are a welcoming place for people in recovery from alcohol or substance use disorder, but Blassingame says the invitation doesn’t stop there. Folks who are participating in Dry January, or recovering from something else (such as an abusive relationship), or are just feeling isolated all have a seat at the virtual table. “Isolation is the worst feeling someone can experience; when someone in prison is being punished, they’re put in isolation. That speaks to how punishing it is,” Blassingame says. “There are so many people who are living alone and unable to see loved ones right now or feel isolated because of job loss or another life circumstance. No one should feel isolated.”

She emphasizes that Lionrock is a place to find your people, whether it’s through a virtual support group or by listening to their podcast of someone else’s experience as a reminder that you are not alone. “This is a place to connect no matter what,” she says.

See lionrock.life/events for more details on Lionrock’s CommUnity Table free virtual cooking classes.

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