08 JUNE 2021

The Role of Nutrition: How Healthy Eating Can Help You Stay Sober During Recovery

Health & Addiction: The Role of Nutrition for Recovering Addicts

The road to addiction recovery involves proper nutrition. What you eat can help you stay sober. Learn the role of nutrition for recovering addicts right here.

It's a commonly held belief that we don't get rid of habits, we replace them. And if you're one of the 21.5 million adults suffering from addiction, you may find yourself replacing addictive substances with junk food and empty calories. But doing so can do far more harm than good for your long-term sobriety, even if you're actively in recovery.

Read on to learn more about nutrition for recovering addicts and how what you eat can affect your sobriety.

You Are What You Eat: The Link Between Brain Chemistry And Diet

We rarely give a second thought to what we put in our bodies. However, scientists are discovering that what we eat has a direct impact on more than just our stomachs and waistlines. What we eat plays a vital role in how our brain functions, too.

Certain foods, especially those high in sugars and processed carbohydrates, target the ventral tegmental area, prefrontal cortex, and nucleus accumbens.

Together, these three regions form your reward pathway.

While a soda or cookie alone doesn't mean you'll relapse, these foods target the same chemical reactions as drugs and alcohol. This is why recovering addicts get anxious or irritable during recovery. Their brains are so used to reactions from this region that they don't know how to operate without regular release.

Nutrition For Recovering Addicts Isn't A One-Size-Fits-All Solution

Recovery nutrition for an alcoholic often differs from recovery nutrition of someone addicted to opioids, for example.

Alcoholics often get as much as 50% of their daily calories from alcohol. As a result, many alcoholics tend to overeat during recovery, making them appear bloated. Or they'll under eat, giving them an emaciated appearance.

In contrast, opioid addiction causes vitamin deficiencies and rapid weight loss due to a lack of appetite. Instead of regularly releasing hunger signals, the brain of an opioid addict releases dopamine on a near-constant basis. Neither diet leaves much room for vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.

Each addict is encouraged to talk to a specialist about their own unique needs based on their body as well as their addiction.

Tips For Establishing Good Habits

You didn't develop an addiction in a single day, so your eating habits won't change that quickly either. Instead, focus on establishing healthy habits slowly over a period of time.

Start by developing a regular eating schedule. Aim to eat two meals per day, with a few snacks if needed.

It may seem like a small step, but it's a great way to establish a daily routine. During recovery, a routine can help you maximize the time spent on healthy habits while minimizing temptation.

Each meal you eat should consist of one to two servings of fruits and vegetables. Focus on foods high in calcium, vitamin c, zinc, fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

Foods like salmon, almonds, carrots, celery, and chicken are all delicious foods that are chock-full of vitamins and minerals your body needs throughout recovery.

You'll also want to keep a food journal so you can keep track of what you're eating. Food journals may seem like overkill, but they're great for establishing the building blocks of accountability and reinforcing your new routine.

Final Thoughts On Nutrition For Recovering Addicts

When used in combination with other recovery aids such as regular therapy and a strong support system, the right nutrition for recovering addicts can help you stay happy and healthy.

If you're looking to get sober, don't hesitate to contact us today. Everyone needs a fresh start at one point, why not start yours today?