Food Education for People with Serious Psychiatric Disabilities: An Evidence-Based Recovery Curriculum

Alison Books, MS, RD, LDN, Center for Fitness & Nutrition, in collaboration with staff and students of the Division of Recovery Services at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Food Education for People with Serious Psychiatric Disabilities: An Evidence-Based Recovery Curriculum

Price: $34.95   $17.47

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Audience: Recommended for educators, students, practitioners, supervisors, trainers, and consumers—anyone interested in understanding and serving the needs of persons with psychiatric disabilities. Valuable resource for
staff development and for classroom use in courses in rehabilitation counseling, psychology, psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, and social work.


Food Education for People with Serious Psychiatric Disabilities is designed to guide rehabilitation practitioners in helping people with psychiatric disabilities to learn good nutrition and healthy eating practices and to empower people with serious psychiatric disabilities to achieve nutritional health as a resource for recovery.

This curriculum guide has bundled several evidence-based practices and modified the information relevant to preventing and reversing the metabolic syndrome and promote healthy weight in persons with psychiatric disabilities. It is designed to provide practitioners with nutritional lesson plans that can be used in a single session or together as a cohesive skills group. We encourage practitioners to use the lesson plans as frameworks from which the topic can be personalized to meet individual, cultural, and environmental needs.

Another goal of the curriculum is to promote of independence in making healthy food choices. Lesson plans are provided that teach strategies for healthy choices in three situations: food shopping, dining out, and meal/snack preparation. In addition, the curriculum presents healthy eating strategies in response to emotions.

Handouts and recipes are included to prompt use of the skills, provide information, and support nutritional practices. The handouts and recipes that are recommended for student use are included following each lesson plan. They can be printed or reproduced as needed for individual group participants. To make it to easier to reproduce the handouts and recipes for individual students, they also are available to purchasers of the curriculum in a password protected PDF file that can be downloaded from the Center’s website. It is recommended that students be provided individual binders to organize the completed handouts, particularly if a number of lesson plans will be taught. A cover page is provided that can be printed or copied and distributed to individual students to serve as a cover for their binders. The curriculum also directs leaders and students to user-friendly nutritional websites that can be used in adjunct.

NOTE: The Food Education curriculum includes an instructor’s copy of the student handouts.

Citation: Books, A. (2009). Food education for people with serious psychiatric disabilities: An evidence-based recovery curriculum. Boston, MA: Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation.

Student Handouts

While the handouts are interspersed within the curriculum, they also may be downloaded as a complete set for your students. After your purchase has been processed of either the printed format or the download format of the curriculum, you will receive an instruction letter for the registration procedures to access the handouts online.

Product Details


PDF: 139 Pages


PDF: 47 Pages


The Food Education Table of Contents may be viewed in a PDF file


Alison Books, MS, RD, LDN is the Director of Hunger & Nutrition at Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Boston (JF&CS), where she helps alleviate hunger and nutrition concerns among vulnerable groups of people, including people with serious mental illness. Since 2004, Alison has devoted a significant part of her career to helping people living with mental illness improve their nutritional health. She authored the Food Education curriculum while working at the Boston University Nutrition & Fitness Center (NFC). This work represents a partnership between the Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation and the NFC. Alison earned her B.S. in Dietetics and M.S. in Nutrition from Boston University.

The Division of Recovery Services at the Center has been in existence since 1984. Guided by the non-negotiable values of personhood, choice, self determination, and respect, people who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness are invited to collaborate with staff, many of whom self-identify as recipients of mental health services, to begin the process of recovery and healing from the many consequences of a psychiatric disability. Services are delivered using education as a framework as it immediately gives people a valued role that of a student, rather than a patient, consumer, client, or a diagnosis. The outcome of Recovery is a given here. It is not debatable or an outside possibility. We are not a traditional clinical environment, but we maintain the highest ethical standards. We share power with our student, have high expectations and learn with our students as we support their quest to be full citizens as healthy adults.


…The University of Arizona RISE Health and Wellness Center’s Camp Wellness is successfully using the Food Education Curriculum to support students living with serious mental illnesses to acquire and use nutrition knowledge and support healthy food choices.  Students and staff enjoy the recipes and are learning what good nutrition is, what choices to make and how to cook healthy, nutritious meals that are low cost and affordable. We love it!
Beth C. Stoneking, PhD, MSW, CPRP, Executive Director and Assistant Professor