The Importance of a Balanced Diet during Addiction Recovery
Addiction to drugs or alcohol can cause physical and mental deterioration. Eating wholesome foods and getting enough fluids in the body is usually ignored while the addict concentrates on getting and staying high. When the physical body is not being properly nourished it will begin to break down and cause illness. The brain is also affected when an addict becomes malnourished. Nutritional therapy is provided in many rehab programs to help patients have a well-rounded and comprehensive treatment experience. Good nutrition, supplementation and hydration will strengthen and support the body and mind, and are essential components of the recovery process.
Going through the drug detox process is tough and takes a toll on the body. The first line of defense in recovery should be to begin building the body back up to support it during detox. When withdrawal symptoms begin, the body and mind will be affected. Insomnia and fatigue are often common symptoms for most during withdrawal. A weak body will crumble under the added pressure of withdrawal. This is why rehab facilities begin recovery with good nutrition, supplementation and hydration, so that the body can endure the withdrawal process. If the body is not prepared for the process, the addict may weaken and relapse.
Treating the addict in a holistic manner ensures that they have the best chance of staying sober. A healthy diet, with supplementation and hydration can work miracles for a malnourished body and mind. The addict will feel empowered when their good health returns. Treating them in body, mind, emotions and spirit will make the addict feel whole again and strong enough to continue on the road to recovery. Individual and group counseling, along with family therapy, are integral aspects of the healing process. Rehabilitation must also take into account co-occurring mental disorders that may have to be integrated with other treatments.
Recovering from Alcoholism
Alcoholics face their own demons because they typically consume half their daily caloric intake with alcohol. The link between alcoholism and sugar addiction leads alcoholics to consume junk food to satisfy their sugar craving. This leaves the body weak and malnourished, and actually depletes their body of essential stored nutrients. Alcohol suppresses the desire for food but increases the craving for more sugar and alcohol. This problem causes the alcoholic to deprive himself of the benefits of good nutrition, and leaves him feeling weak and depressed. This lack of nutrients leads to a drop in blood glucose levels. To rebound, the addict will drink caffeine and consume more sugar and refined carbohydrates. This will bring the glucose level up, but it is a short-lived process in a vicious cycle. Many alcoholics are addicted to sugar and caffeine and believe they need them just to feel normal.
Foods to Eat and to Avoid
The recovering addict should avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Sugar consumption prolongs cravings, fatigue and anxiety, and also causes health problems like diabetes and hormonal imbalances. The recovering addict should eat complex carbohydrates, which are a more stable source of energy. Some excellent sources of complex carbohydrates are oats, bran, wild and brown rice, amaranth, beans, lentils, spelt and millet. Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of complex carbohydrates, with the added benefit of fiber which lowers alcohol craving.
Protein is also very important for the recovering person’s body and stabilizes blood sugar. It helps to repair the tissue of the pancreas, liver, heart, kidneys and brain, which are all adversely affected by alcoholism. Good sources for protein are lean meat, eggs, fish, turkey, chicken and nuts.
A deficiency in fats causes many health problems, especially depression. Good fats are olive oil, coconut oil, butter, flaxseed oil and avocado. Caffeine should be decreased or eliminated from the diet because it over-stimulates the central nervous system and causes anxiety and insomnia. Also try to eat whole foods and avoid processed or artificial food. Hydration is also important, so be sure to drink enough water.
A healthy, balanced meal should consist of 45% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 25% protein. Frequent small meals will help to keep blood sugar levels regulated, if that is an issue. Otherwise, three meals per day with two formidable snacks in between are sufficient.
The importance of a balanced diet during addiction recovery cannot be overlooked. It is an integral part of the recovery process and should continue throughout your life. Keep your body strong, your mind sharp, and your focus on a sober and fulfilling life.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the White Sands Treatment Center at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.