If you are recovering from addiction, you know just how much of a toll substance abuse takes on your health. This happens because drugs and alcohol impact the body’s ability to absorb vital vitamins and minerals. Additionally, people with addictions often eat unhealthy diets – or simply don’t eat regularly at all. Having nutrient deficiencies can affect many different aspects of your life, both physically and mentally. That is why knowing which food can enhance your addiction recovery is important. Following a healthy diet rich in diverse foods is very important to finding total healing from your addiction.
How Can Your Diet Affect Addiction Recovery?
While in treatment you probably learned how addiction changes the way that your brain functions. Drugs and alcohol impact the parts of the brain that help control emotions and make you feel relaxed. But did you know that your diet also has an effect on these chemicals? When you are nutrient deficient, your body has an even harder time releasing feel-good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. This can have a big effect on your moods, making it harder for you to feel happy and motivated. By eating foods that can enhance your addiction recovery, you can help encourage your body’s natural production of these chemicals. Eating well also has many other positive effects on your body that can aid addiction recovery, including increasing your energy levels, repairing damage to organs or other tissues, improving your skin and hair, and strengthening your immune system.
Five Foods to Enhance Your Addiction Recovery
Every person is different, and so are their dietary needs. Therefore there isn’t one set diet plan that is going to work for every person in recovery. Instead, it is more about trying to find a balance that works for you, and helps address the issues you are experiencing. Many rehabs have a dietician on staff that works with clients to build a healthy diet that helps relieve issues ranging from digestion problems to mood issues. Most people, however, can benefit from 5 specific food groups that work to enhance addiction recovery.
Soups & Smoothies
While this may seem a little bland or boring, there is good reason to start out with these types of foods when you are just starting in recovery. Your digestive system is likely under a lot of stress from months or even years of poor eating habits. If you start eating a lot of very fiber-rich foods, you may experience some very unpleasant tummy problems. Soups and smoothies serve to break down foods by either cooking or blending them, making it easier to digest – and to absorb the vital nutrients they are full of. As an added bonus, brothy soups aid in hydration, which is also an important part of addiction recovery as it helps rid your body of drug metabolites.
Another aspect of your health that addiction has a negative impact on is your gut health – i.e. the little bacteria, yeasts, and more that help aid in healthy and effective digestion. Recent research has also shown a connection between gut health and other bodily functions, such as:
- Hormone production
- Anti-inflammatory chemicals
- Mood regulation
When the good bacteria in your gut is suppressed by drug or alcohol use, bad bacteria multiplies. This can lead to issues like constipation, diarrhea, inflammation, depression, anxiety, food cravings, and even a higher risk of colon cancer.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, and even pickles all help repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria. This means that not only will your digestive system feel better, your mood and minor aches and pains will feel better as well.
Foods Rich in Calcium
Years of research has shown that alcoholism has a huge impact on the body’s ability to absorb calcium. This can result in your body pulling calcium from your bones to function. More recent studies have found that people with higher levels of calcium in their bodies experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms. They were less likely to relapse after completing treatment.
Eating calcium-rich foods can help support you by not just helping to strengthen your bones, but also make recovery an easier process. In order to help get your bones back to normal, you’ll want to focus on replenishing calcium for at least the first three years of your recovery. But calcium is luckily one of the easiest minerals to find; dairy products like milk and yogurt contain a lot of calcium. If you are sensitive to dairy, focus on eating plenty of kale, sesame seed products like tahini, and tofu.
Carbs may have a bad reputation, but they are actually a very important part of a healthy and balanced diet. Carbs are the body’s main source of energy, and without them our brains don’t function as well as they should. It can also make your blood sugar drop, which can lead to irritability, frustration, anxiety, and trouble concentrating. The key to getting the benefits of carbs without any negative side effects like bloating or weight gain is to focus on eating whole foods rather than junk like chips. Whole grain breads, oatmeal, brown rice, and even potatoes (not french fries) are all healthy sources of carbs that will help provide you with steady energy all day long.
One of the easiest and healthiest snacks that you can keep on hand are nuts. They can keep you from stress-eating, binge-eating, prevent sugar crashes, avoid hunger-related mood swings, and even give you an outlet when a drug or alcohol craving strikes. Any type of nut works, depending on what you like best, but there are also certain nuts that are beneficial for people with certain addictions. Walnuts and chia seeds can help replenish essential fatty acids that cocaine use depletes. Alcohol-related calcium deficiencies can benefit from snacking on almonds. And for people who are worried about their liver or immune system, Brazil nuts contain an antioxidant that supports detox and liver function.
Addiction Treatment in Houston
Focusing on nutrition is just one aspect of the whole-body healing that we at Purpose Driven Recovery like to focus on. Eating foods that enhance addiction recovery only helps to cement healthy habits as a vital part of your new, sober lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment options, including our healthy eating options.