The road to recovery is often paved with junk food. In survival mode, we turn to sugar and processed goodies for quick hunger fixes. As we work hard to maintain sobriety, we also allow ourselves these sugary indulgences to get by.
The problem (besides those extra pounds we pack on) is that poor eating habits actually make us more likely to relapse. A healthy diet, on the other hand, helps us both physically and mentally and reduces the risk of relapse. Research shows that including nutritional education in treatment programs can increase recovery success.
Foods for Thought
While riding the storm of addiction, the body is deprived of essential nutrients, suffers damage and is in great need of healthy foods to help it recover. Our mood is also affected due to an imbalance of nutrients and chemicals. By eating the right foods, we can supply our bodies with the much-needed nutrients it needs to repair damage and we can elevate our mental health by consuming mood-elevating foods.
Our drugs of choice harm our bodies in different ways. Stimulants suppress appetite, resulting in insufficient calorie intake. An alcohol dependency impedes nutrient breakdown; opiates cause gastrointestinal issues.
No matter the addiction, a healthy diet helps us thrive in recovery. But certain foods can be more helpful, depending on drug history. If you are currently fighting the food battle in recovery, try some of this ammo:
Tip #1 Probiotics
Both alcohol and opiates have harmful effects on the stomach. If you are recovering from these substances, a good intake of probiotics can help restore your stomach to health. Yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles and dark chocolate are all good sources of probiotics.
Tip #2 Amino Acids (Protein)
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The great thing about protein is that it helps your brain release “reward” or “happy” neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins. Neurotransmitters play a large role in addiction, as their levels are depleted through unnatural stimulation of drugs. Eating protein helps restore a healthy neuro-balance and can help with withdrawal, too. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy are high amino acid foods.
Tip #3 Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3’s are the building blocks of healthy fats in your body. They assist in building cells and then serve as solid cell health support. As your body tries to rebuild and renew in recovery, Omega 3’s will help. Great sources include seafood, walnuts, soy foods, spinach, black berries and grass-fed beef.
Tip #4 Fiber
A diet high in fiber promotes digestive health, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and helps control blood sugar levels. Meth and cocaine can leave you underweight with poor nutrition levels. Fiber can help rebuild your digestive system and restore healthy nutrient absorption.
Tip #5 Vitamins
Of course, we should all take our vitamins – whether we are in recovery or not. But, it is especially important to make sure your body receives the essential vitamins it needs while recovering from substance abuse. Be sure to get the following:
- Vitamin A boosts the immune system. Find this in milk, cheese, potatoes, and broccoli.
- Vitamin E fights infection. Get it from nuts, seeds, spinach, and asparagus.
- B3 and B1 Vitamins aid in digestion. B3 is found in poultry, fish, and eggs. Whole grain foods contain B1.
- Vitamin C boosts the immune system. Eat citrus fruits, strawberries, and tomatoes for your supply.
- Vitamin D aids in skin growth. Consuming milk, cereals, and fish gets your body this vitamin.
Additional Reading: 9 Steps to Building a Self-Care Plan in Recovery
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