An individual who is in an addiction recovery program may be overwhelmed by the many elements and aspects of that program, and he may not want to add any secondary or extraneous pieces into the mix. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet should be viewed as one of the primary components of the program rather than a secondary component or an afterthought. If a recovering addict is able to develop healthy eating habits, both his physical and mental health and well-being will return to normalcy more quickly and effectively than if he were to survive on junk food and empty calories.
Addiction’s Toll on the Body
Drug addiction and alcoholism take a significant physical toll on an addict’s body. Some studies have suggested that more than half of all addicts suffer from malnutrition or other nutrient deficiencies. An addict’s next dose of drugs or alcohol will always take precedence over food and nutrition. In addition to going through detox during the first several days of a recovery program, a recovering addict will also need to address nutrition problems and to start the process of rebuilding normal metabolic processes. That rebuilding is accomplished more readily with a healthy and balanced diet.
Healing with Proper Nutrition
Proper nutrition will also have a positive effect on a recovering addict’s mental state. Most people have experienced an episode or two of post-meal remorse after binging on junk food. Nausea and other stomach problems are common responses to unhealthy foods or excessive quantities of food. Drugs and alcohol will already have trained an addict’s digestive system to reject certain foods, and continuing to force healthy foods into that system while an addict is in recovery can lead to chronic sensations of illness or weakness. A healthy diet will eliminate these sensations and will allow the addict to generally feel good about himself without worrying about stomach or digestion problems.
Apart from simply helping to avoid stomach problems, healthy and balanced diets can cause a recovering addict’s body to release endorphins and serotonins that further create a positive mental balance. These positive sensations will counteract a recovering addict’s residual cravings for drugs or alcohol, thus reducing the risk of relapse.
Stay Sober with a Healthy Diet
Adopting healthy eating habits does not have to be an ordeal that adds to the burdens of a rehabilitation program. individuals who are in rehab can take several simple steps to develop healthy eating habits without going overboard. For example, he can switch from regular coffee to decaffeinated coffee or tea. More generally, anything that can foster mood swings, including caffeine, might create a relapse trigger, and those substances are best avoided or minimized. Sugary and carbohydrate-heavy foods can also create mood swings if an individual indulges in large quantities of them. Most people understand the “sugar high” and the resulting feelings of low energy when that sugar high wears off.
In place of sugary foods, individuals should look for anti-oxidant and fiber-rich foods, which release their energy over longer periods of time. People who tend to get hungry between meals should opt for fruits or other natural snacks that will satisfy hunger cravings more effectively than junk food. When a recovering addict adjusts to these better eating habits, he may find greater motivation to adopt other healthy habits in his life, including exercise programs and meditation.
Healthy eating is often an afterthought in addiction recovery programs, which necessarily focus first on getting an addict through detox and initial recovery. As with other aspects of a recovery program, healthy eating can be phased in as a recovering alcoholic or addict approaches a more stable daily existence.
Please contact the Last Resort Recovery Center (near Austin, Texas) at 512-360-3600 if you have questions or you would like more information on how a healthy diet can work to keep you sober.