If you’ve been through addiction treatment, you may have already known that eating healthy is a fundamental element of a healthy lifestyle that can enhance your recovery in the long term, but do you understand why a balanced diet matters so much for recovery? If you do all other healthy activities, can you still reserve a place for the sweets and junk food you like?
Since you have bigger battles to fight, like cravings for drugs and alcohol, why restrain yourself in these minor areas? This is actually a common “compensation psychology” among many people who are in recovery from substance addiction. Eating habits are not minor battles. They are so important on the path to full recovery that many treatment specialists include “nutritional therapy” into treatment plans.
Is There Need for Nutritional Therapy?
Like medications and cognitive therapies, nutrition is an irreplaceable part of recovery from addiction. Your consumption of drugs and alcohol may have replaced or inhibited your body’s nutritional intake. Because of stimulants from drugs or alcohol, you may have lost your appetite, which is why many addicted individuals lose weight and appear skinnier and paler than normal. Substances can block out feelings of hunger, and when they do appear, your brain may misinterpret it as a craving for drugs or alcohol.
Secondly, ingesting drugs or alcohol can impede the breakdown and processing of nutrients. Some substances can also cause gastrointestinal issues. Other substances may cause people to eat too much. In most cases, people with substance use disorder prioritize drugs or alcohol over high-quality, nutrient-dense food that can truly nourish the body.
It is not surprising that when you start detox treatment, proper nutrition is vital for getting the body to recover. Nutritional therapy may sound like common sense, but it can be hard, though it has the potential to guarantee a smooth transition into a substance-free, dietarily-balanced life. Physically and mentally, a healthy and balanced diet can gradually guide the body and the mind back to normal chemical processes.
Does Nutrition Guarantee Successful Recovery?
While no single thing can guarantee successful recovery on its own, good nutrition can certainly help your recovery. Without dietary changes, your body and mind can be more easily swayed back into the grips of addiction. Many treatment programs have integrated nutritional therapy as a part of their treatment plan for this reason. Good nutrition provides the body with building blocks to repair and grow.
Nutrition also plays an important role in regulating your mood. This is particularly important because, for most people in early recovery, the risk of relapse is higher when there are mental and emotional triggers due to stress and depressed mood. Healthy changes in the diet can keep your brain and mood on a positive track by enhancing key neurotransmitters like serotonin.
What Should Your Nutrition Goals Be?
First, add nutrition and good eating habits into your recovery and relapse-prevention toolbox. Working with a professional nutritionist can be a great way to get yourself educated and refine your nutrition plan. A nutritionist can also tailor your diet to your specific needs in recovery. For example, certain foods may help with sleep problems or mood swings, while others help with weight control or memory.
One common nutrition goal is to reduce sugar intake. Many people in recovery replace drugs and alcohol addiction with sugar addiction. Former alcoholics are especially prone to sugar addiction because sugar supplies an energy boost similar to alcohol. If you’re not careful how much sugar you are consuming, not only will your blood sugar levels spike, but its addictive effects may sabotage the maintenance of your sobriety.
Some recovering individuals might have co-occurring eating disorders which need to be addressed simultaneously. If untreated, eating disorders may increase the risk of substance use relapse. The fact is, between these two conditions, many people use one to cope with the other. This creates a vicious cycle where eating disorders feed off substance addiction and vice versa.
How Do You Reach These Goals?
The best way to work out a comprehensive nutrition plan to support your long-term recovery is to consult a nutritionist at a treatment center. They often suggest recovering individuals follow a routine of more frequent and evenly disbursed meal times. Always prioritize healthy snacks, such as nuts over chips, or carrot sticks over candy.
Dietary recommendations also vary depending on everyone’s physical needs. For example, for people who suffer from winter depression, it is key to take Vitamin D supplements. Similarly, people who have a long history of drinking may need to take probiotics to restore gut health which has been damaged by alcohol. A professional nutritionist will be able to speak to your particular situation.
Did you know that your progress in recovery is closely related to having a healthy and balanced diet? Substance addiction may have deprived your body of good nutrition in the past. Both your body and mind need a balanced and healthy diet to achieve full healing. A healthy diet can improve your overall mood, further helping your recovery. If you’re at a loss where to start implementing such a change, it is time to work with recovery-supportive nutritionists. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our licensed professionals and therapists can coach you in all areas of life, including food and nutrition. As believers in holistic recovery, our complete medical and residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and nutritional advising. We know you are worthy of the best care. Call us today at (866) 906-3203 so we can help you start a new journey toward healing.