The old saying, “You are what you eat” especially applies to the addiction recovery process after drug or alcohol abuse. Proper nutrition and hydration can speed up the healing process and increase energy levels.
Examining your diet, determining any vitamin or mineral deficiencies and creating a nutrition plan with a registered dietitian or medical professional can play a vital role in the recovery process.
How Substance Abuse Affects Nutrition
Alcohol is a well-known diuretic and commonly leads to dehydration in heavy drinkers. Stimulant drugs such as cocaine and meth are known to suppress appetite and disturb the metabolic system leading to improper nutrient processing. Other drugs may cause an insatiable appetite leading to weight gain.
Chronic, long-term use of drugs and alcohol may have permanent ramifications on the body and brain including damage to organs, the nervous system and immune system.
Many recovering drug or alcohol abusers also suffer from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Without proper nutrition, the body simply can’t heal properly.
How Proper Nutrition in Addiction Recovery Helps the Healing Process
Proper nutrition and mental health are linked. Substance abuse leads to chemical changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters, causing them to decrease.
Due to this altered state, recovering addicts are often agitated, anxious or depressed while the brain readjusts without the presence of substances. Eating certain types of foods can help to stabilize moods.
Here are a few benefits of a proper nutrition plan:
- Heal your body from the ravages of substance abuse
- Stabilize energy levels and moods
- Decrease cravings for alcohol and drugs
- Promote a healthier lifestyle and instill basic self-care and nutrition habits
Healthy Nutrition Tips
- Eat at regular intervals throughout the day including three meals and snacks in between.
- Fruits and vegetables have plenty of anti-oxidants which can help reduce inflammation.
- Macronutrients such as carbohydrates (whole grains preferably) provide energy, help the brain function and regulate blood sugar levels which in turn stabilize moods. Carbs also help release serotonin which promotes happiness and helps you sleep better.
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can help neurotransmitters heal.
- Common vitamins lacking in recovering addicts include folate, iron, vitamins B6 and B12.
- Avoid drinking too many caffeinated drinks which can dehydrate your body.
Promoting a Healthier Lifestyle
A healthier life begins with eating right. Healthier eating habits can improve your body and mental health and encourage you to participate in healthy activities such as recreational sports. Eating regular meals with nutrient-rich foods and staying hydrated are responsibilities within your control that will provide long-lasting benefits.