Eating disorders often accompany an addictive lifestyle. Alcoholism, in particular, may disrupt your dietary habits. Chronic substance abuse tends to take a toll on your body’s nutrient intake, and diet plays a critical role in early and long-term recovery. This is why when entering into treatment and recovery, you should also expect to have a shift in your diet; your body needs proper nutrition to rebuild health. While in detox, your body needs good food as fuel. Understanding the relationship between nutrition and addiction recovery is crucial.
How Does Addiction Affect Your Diet and Body?
When people say that addiction is not healthy, they mean it! Chronic substance use tends to cause malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, and even organ damage. Although each substance has specific effects on your body, most of them have similar impacts on how your systems absorb nutrients from food. Medical experts and therapists alike observe that when a person becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol, he or she tends to consume less food and may skip meals. Therefore, many of those addicted to drugs or alcohol experience a loss of appetite and an increased frequency in consuming fast food. Drugs and alcohol may also accelerate how your body uses energy. Chronic substance use may damage your digestive system so that it fails to absorb the nutrients efficiently. All these factors lead to poor nutrient intake through your diet.
Substance use may do more harm than hindering your nutrition intake. Chronic alcohol consumption, for example, may cause harm to two major organs in your body: the pancreas and the liver. The former is responsible for making enzymes that are necessary for digestion and generates hormones to balance blood sugar. The liver also plays a critical role in breaking down toxins. The harm done to these two organs may have a lasting influence on your overall health.
Other substances such as opioids tend to be associated with eating disorders, causing less food intake and sometimes severe constipation. Since addiction introduces toxic substances into your body and damages its natural defense systems, the overall goal of a recovery diet is to assist in detox and repair the physical damage in your body. Like all recovery-related health issues, keeping a balanced diet and obtaining a range of nutritional foods is key.
What Kind of Diet Is Important During Recovery?
During detox treatment and recovery, you should choose a diet that will supply enough nutrients to help adjust the hormonal imbalance in your brain and nervous system. A diet full of foods rich in complex carbohydrates is ideal. Foods that serve this purpose include bread, pasta, beans, lentils, peas, and root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.
In early detox and recovery, you may need to eat more than you’re used to in order to meet your body’s needs. A well-balanced diet can help detoxify your body. Since alcoholism is often accompanied by deficiencies in B-complex and other vitamins, those refraining from alcohol use may also consider taking vitamin supplements such as B12, C, zinc, magnesium, and calcium, as recommended by a health professional. People with chronic addiction tend to have a weaker immune system. During recovery, you also need to watch for signs of infection, such as dental problems.
When you begin implementing a healthy diet recommended by the nutritionists at the treatment center, observe how your body reacts day by day. Take notice of significant spikes or declines in appetite. These are signs that tell you that your body may need to slowly adjust to different dietary habits.
How Should You Eat for Long-Term Recovery?
Even after you finish detox treatment and become sober for a few months, choosing a healthy diet is still important. Watch out for the urge to replace drugs and alcohol with food by obsessive or over-eating. Although during early recovery you can consume sugar and caffeine with moderation, in the long run, try to avoid these because they might cause mood swings and negatively impact your sleep patterns.
A sustainable healthy diet is made up of a few things: natural foods over processed foods, foods from multiple categories, and high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. There are plenty of resources about a healthy diet lifestyle. A person with the goal of long-term recovery should maintain healthy eating habits just as much as someone who never battled addiction. When you observe mood swings or decreased energy, first check if you have been eating healthy lately. Nutritional improvement is an important step towards long-term recovery.
Do you understand the relationship between addiction and diet? Have you experienced symptoms of addiction-related malnutrition and eating disorders? Did you know that a healthy eating habit can be life-saving during your recovery? There is a lot to learn about how nutritional health relates to sustainable recovery. We are glad to help you understand this important factor, which is critical for your detox treatment. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our experienced health professionals and therapists have helped many people navigate detox treatment and recovery. We make healthy meal plans for clients who stay at our full medical facility. The staff at Laguna Shores Recovery believes in a holistic approach to sustainable recovery, and nutritional counseling is part of the program. We also offer cognitive and behavioral therapies, family relationship programs, and 12-step groups to assist your recovery. Call us at (866) 229-9923. We want to hear about your challenges and walk alongside you toward healing and recovery.