MALIBU (CBSLA.com) — There's a rehab center in Malibu that says the key to staying sober may be what you eat.
CBS2's Sandra Mitchell spoke to the makers of a cookbook that some say is helping them conquer their addictions.
Ian Cooper says he struggled with severe depression before he found the Malibu Beach Recovery Cookbook: "I tried things like therapy and anti-depressants in the past, and it just hadn't really worked for me."
He said the depression led to drinking and drug use: "I remember taking that first drink and it all kind of went away."
After years of heavy drug use, Cooper is now drug- and alcohol-free.
The Brentwood resident attributes much of his nearly four years of sobriety to his diet, which he learned from the low-glycemic menu while at the Malibu Beach Recovery Center. He noticed that after a couple of weeks on their food plan that his cravings were not as severe.
"They were so diminished compared to what they had been when I had come in to treatment. It was really remarkable," Cooper said.
The Malibu Beach Recovery Diet focuses on the elimination of sugar and other high-glycemic index foods, as well as caffeine. Rehab experts attribute its success to having food that increases dopamine in the brain to diminish cravings for drugs and alcohol.
"We were eating this amazing food three times a day, and yoga, and I probably felt better physically than I ever had in my life," Cooper said.
Joan Borsten co-founded the Malibu Beach Recovery Center in 2007: "From the beginning, we knew according to neuroscience that there was a relation between food and addiction. And we decided to adapt a French low-glycemic diet, because that would prevent the clients from getting sugar spikes."
She's spent the last three years writing a cookbook that helps her former clients stay sober: "If you had diabetes, if you had high blood pressure, the doctor would say to you change your diet, change your exercise program, change your numbers. It's the same with addiction - you can't cure it, but you can put it into remission by changing your lifestyle in that way."
The chefs who created the recipes insist it's not the typical diet, which usually focus on losing weight.
Chef Johnnie Handal told Mitchell: "When people hear diet they get a little scared. We can have pizza, we can have burritos, tacos, enchiladas, pasta. We just substitute ingredients that would spike our blood sugar levels with ingredients that aren't going to spike our blood sugar levels."
"Dopamine makes you feel good, it's the feel-good endorphin in your body," Handal said. "We want to get them back on track so the food is the dopamine, what you're eating is making you feel good."
And Cooper says he plans on continuing the diet plan as he works on all the other components to staying sober: "There's so many pieces to addiction. There's the physical, the mental, the spiritual, the community - one of the things that I've been able to learn is how you can work with all of those different pieces to begin to heal."
For more information on the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet and the cookbook click here.
for more features.