Here’s How Eating the Right Foods Can Help You Recover from Addiction
by Tiffani Wroe
Alcohol and drug addiction can harm the body in so many ways, and one of those ways is by causing malnutrition. Heavy substance abusers often don’t eat well, and their substance abuse can hamper the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from what food they do eat. Some substances can cause metabolic changes in the body, while others, like marijuana, can encourage weight gain.
When you enter recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, it’s vital that you focus on eating right. While the stress of following a strict diet might be too much for early recovery, eating healthy foods at regular intervals throughout the day can help your body recover from the effects of long-term, heavy substance abuse. It can also help regulate your moods as you struggle to adjust to a new normal.
How Substance Abuse Can Lead to Malnutrition
When you’re using drugs or alcohol heavily, you might not eat regularly or very well – for example, stimulant abusers often lose their appetites, and may not eat regularly at all, even to the point of experiencing significant weight loss. Opiate abuse, too, can suppress your appetite. Substances like alcohol and marijuana may not suppress your appetite, but they can cause you to make poor eating choices. If you’re not eating well or often enough, your body could be literally starved for the nutrients you need to be and feel well.
Substance abuse can also hinder your body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly. For example, heavy alcohol users can develop vitamin B deficiencies, because alcohol use inhibits the body’s ability to absorb these nutrients. As a result, heavy drinkers can develop anemia and a neurologic problem known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome or “wet brain.” Alcohol use can also damage the liver and pancreas, impairing the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar or absorb fat.
Healthy Eating Supports Healing
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is an important part of many substance abuse recovery programs, because it supports physical, mental, and emotional healing from substance abuse disorders. Eating healthy, nutritious meals and snacks supports your body’s recovery from substance abuse, by giving your body the nutrients it needs to heal from the damage done by substance abuse.
Eating right during recovery also supports your mental and emotional healing. Often, heavy substance abusers learn to disregard feelings of hunger, and in recovery, they interpret hungry sensations as cravings for drugs or alcohol. That’s why addicts in recovery are encouraged to ask themselves when they last ate when experiencing a craving. Recognizing and meeting one’s own fundamental physical needs is an important part of self-care that must be relearned in recovery, and the need for healthy food is perhaps the most basic need of all. Not only can eating well and regularly help control cravings, it can also stabilize your mood, help you manage stress, and encourage a lifestyle of self-love.
Nutritional Guidelines for Substance Abuse Recovery
If you choose to enter an inpatient rehab program, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your diet during your stay in the facility, regardless of whether you choose a 12-step program or enroll in non-12 step, SMART recovery program like the one at Elevate Rehab. Your program should take care of your nutritional planning for you, and you’ll probably have the chance to meet with a nutritionist or dietitian and discuss your nutritional needs during recovery. This is one of the many benefits of an inpatient program, because handling the stress of a new, restrictive diet is often too much when piled on top of giving up a substance you’ve relied upon for pleasure and emotional support.
When you leave inpatient care, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to eat a perfect diet. You should stick to regular meal and snack times, especially if you weren’t eating much when you were using. Focus on eating a low-fat diet that is high in fiber, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but use a vitamin supplement as well. Speak with a doctor or dietitian about which nutrition supplements are best for supporting your recovery, especially if you have suffered from malnutrition as a result of your substance abuse. Try to avoid caffeine, and get plenty of rest and regular exercise.
Proper nutrition can be an effective tool to support addiction recovery. It can help your body heal from the effects of substance abuse, and it can support your emotional recovery, too. Now that you’ve made the important and difficult decision to stop using substances, it’s time you learned, once again, how to take care of yourself – and how rewarding self-care can be.
About the Author
Tiffani is a leader in marketing authority, she prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffani has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.