Proper Nutrition in Recovery can Help with Sobriety Goals
Treatment is a time to focus and reflect on addiction, but it is also about developing a new lifestyle that promotes an individual’s well-being. Drugs and alcohol do enough damage on their own, so learning healthy eating habits throughout treatment can help a recovering individual live a lifestyle that benefits their new sobriety. Proper nutrition in recovery can help the body heal, function at a higher rate, and promote positive moods for those in drugs and alcohol addiction treatment.
The Junk Food Addict
It is quite common that individuals seeking recovery from their drug or alcohol addiction replace their addiction with something else. In many cases, the replacement is sugar. This is possibly because it’s easily attainable and offers a quick sugar rush. It’s not uncommon for people to enter rehab and leave a few pounds heavier because of a few sugar binges. It’s important for a recovering addict to recognize and understand the importance of a balanced and nutritious eating pattern so that they can implement it within their daily life after treatment.
The Toll on the Body from Drugs and Alcohol
Those addicted to drugs or alcohol is no stranger to health problems. Eating the right foods will give a person recovering from substance abuse the means to recover from years of abuse and neglect. Certain drugs have different impacts on eating habits and organ systems of the body.
Opiates: Those addicted to drugs derived or synthesized from the opium plant usually develop gastrointestinal problems. They are infamous for constipation and stomach pain that comes along with opiate drug use.
Alcohol: People who are addicted to alcohol may drink over half of their daily calorie intake in just alcohol alone. Additionally, alcohol damages the liver that is responsible for removing toxins from the body. Blood sugar levels in alcoholics are usually very high, since alcohol damages the pancreas.
Stimulants: This drug class is tied to malnutrition since they can decrease appetite. Stimulants are known for boosting energy, which allows addicted individuals stay awake for long periods. The lack of awareness of hunger and thirst needs can cause malnutrition and dehydration.
The Importance of Healthy Eating in Recovery
Eating healthy won’t just keep a person from replacing an addiction or save them from gaining a few pounds, but it also helps the body function the way that it is supposed to. Those that have been addicted to drugs or alcohol for some time will likely replace meals with their drug of choice or have damaged organ tissue from years of abuse. Utilizing proper nutrition in recovery allows the body to repair itself and gives the body the tools it needs to function at a high performance. Additionally, eating well can strengthen the immune system, giving an individual added support against foreign bacteria’s that could cause sickness.
Not only does healthy eating give the body what it needs to function properly, but it also moderates brain function and mood. Studies also show that eating nutrition packed foods helps the brain produce the chemicals needed to regulate emotions. This means that certain nutritious foods can improve a person’s state of mind and even encourage better behaviors. When a recovering individual feels better, they are less likely use drugs or alcohol to improve mood and relapse.
Finding Help with Nutrition in Recovery
Many treatment centers implement a plan for patients to develop and learn nutrition in recovery. Patients can utilize these skills post-treatment to ensure a healthier lifestyle. This is done by meal planning group therapy, nutrition education, and the helpful guidance of a nutritionist. A few skills that can be implemented to increase bodily function and repair are:
Removing Caffeine- Caffeinated drinks like soda and coffee have addictive properties Those in early recovery should stay away from anything addictive to ensure new addictions don’t develop.
Remove Sugar- Sugar, much like caffeine, affects a person’s mood regulation because of addictive properties that cause a rush and then a down. Keeping away from sugar can help regulate mood and give added protection against relapse.
Antioxidants- Properties found in nutrient-rich foods help keep the immune system strong. This gives added support to a body’s ability to repair itself and battle to prevent sickness. Foods high in antioxidants include fruits and vegetables.
Protein- Adding more protein into your diet will provide your brain with the proper components needed to regulate moods. Proteins, like meats, contain active ingredients that stimulate brain chemicals. These chemicals have natural mood enhancing tendencies, like serotonin.
Fiber- Eating more fiber will help regulate the digestive system. Implement lots of greens like beans, spinach, and broccoli to add fiber to your diet. Additionally, replacing bread and products made with flour for grains provides added fiber.