When we think about addiction recovery, we tend to think about mental, emotional, and physical well-being. However, we generally think about physical well-being as far as detoxing off of drugs and alcohol and beginning to feel stronger and less physically ill. It’s important to note that physical well-being is attributed to a host of things, not just sobriety in and of itself. To truly recover it is important to take things like exercise, sleep patterns, and diet into consideration. Comprehensive recovery should focus on bettering all aspects of life, not simply putting down the drink or the drug. Substance abuse harms the body in two predominant ways.
The chemical substance will affect the functioning of the physical body and can lead to harmful, health-related issues. For example, persistent drug use can do damage to major organs. Secondly, substance abuse leads to detrimental, health-related lifestyle changes. People that were once active become sedentary. People that once got a solid 8 hours of sleep per night now stay awake until 3 am and sleep through noon the next day. People that once focused on eating a nutritious, well-rounded diet exclusively live off of potato chips and soda. Addiction completely changes every aspect of a person’s life. In recovery, it is important to “get back on the right track” in every sense of the phrase.
Dietary Choices for Recovering Addicts
Numerous studies show that individuals who are new to addiction recovery and continue eating poorly are more susceptible to relapse. When you eat well, you feel good. Eating regular meals three times a day is important as if making sure those meals are nutrient-dense and good for the physical body.
Sometimes, individuals who used certain drugs daily might forget what it feels like to be hungry (such as appetite suppressants like amphetamines or cocaine). It is not uncommon for individuals in early recovery to mistake hunger for drug cravings, which can also lead to relapse. Getting to know your body is important.
If cravings become intense, try reaching for a nutritious snack. It might seem as if the two are not connected, but they are very closely interrelated. It is also common for those in early recovery to overeat. Food becomes enjoyable again, and those who were in a calorie deficit while active in addiction are more likely to reach for sugary or fatty foods.
Below are several tips for leaning towards adequate dietary choices while in addiction recovery:
- Be sure to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. This might look like jogging, hitting the gym, or taking a yoga class. As you progress in your recovery you will learn what method of physical activity you enjoy and can stay committed to.
- Get enough sleep. A regular sleep schedule will help you make good dietary choices. For example, if you get into the routine of waking up at 8 am every morning and having a protein shake, you will be better off than if you sometimes wake up at 11 am and pour yourself a rushed bowl of sugary cereal, or wake up at 2 pm and realize you’ve accidentally skipped breakfast altogether.
- Eat three nutritious meals a day and healthy snacks whenever you get hungry in between meals.
- Teach yourself to prepare your food – at least the majority of the time. Not only will this help you stick to a nutritious diet, but it will save you money!
- Speak with a healthcare provider about any natural supplements or vitamins that may help you get on the right track sooner. Drug addiction and alcoholism deplete the body of essential nutrients, and certain supplements can be beneficial to those who have been struggling with a long-term addictive disorder.
- Reduce your caffeine intake, and of course, if you feel up to it…try to reduce your nicotine intake. Many believe that early recovery and smoking go hand-in-hand, but they certainly don’t have to!
- Try to focus on foods that are low in fat, high in protein, high in fiber, and inclusive of complex (not simple) carbohydrates).
Overcome Addiction With Recreate Life Counseling
At Recreate Life Counseling, we put a strong emphasis on diet and nutrition. We offer nutritional guidance to all of our clients and believe strongly in the importance of fully comprehensive recovery. To learn more about our nutrition program and addiction recovery, please give us a call today.