Nutrition in Recovery
Any type of addiction is hard on the body of the addict. Be it alcohol, drugs cigarettes, or prescription medications, it causes a lot of harm to the body. Not only the addicts don't eat properly, but also addictive substances wreck the body in such a way that it cannot absorb nutrients anymore. Most of the addicts are, therefore, malnourished by the time they decide to go to rehab and get de-addicted. Every type of addiction is correlated with the specific type of malnutrition that’s the addict suffers. Opium addicts, for example, suffer from deficiency in Vitamins D and B6, calcium and iron. Cocaine addicts, on the other hand, have a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acid. Alcoholics are the worst affected, because the alcohol makes the body discharge large quantity of nutrients.
Some of the symptoms of malnutrition are weakness, insomnia and anxiety. Therefore, when the addict is trying to recover from addiction, proper nutrition is very important; and, very frequently, addicts are given mineral and vitamin supplements. Yet, real food is the best option for long term recovery of the addict.
For an addict, the following diet should be eaten for the best recovery results:
The addicts should try to minimize the intake of sugar. Restraining yourself from foods that contain sweeteners (soft drinks, pop-corn, cookies, etc.) can help the addict to stabilize the level of blood sugar which, in its turn, controls the frequency and intensity of mood swings, depression and anxiety.
Less Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbs are deprived of almost all fiber, vitamins and minerals. For this reason, they can be called “empty” calories. White bread, white rice, pastries, sodas, snacks, pasta, sweets, and added sugars are the main sources of refined carbs. Therefore, addicts should choose whole grains instead of refined carbohydrate products because they help reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease.
Addicts often seem to lack amino acid because of continuous abuse of alcohol or drugs. Protein is vital for recovering addicts because it contains the amino acids which help in building blocks of the neurotransmitters. Protein can be found in seafood, eggs, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, poultry, and even beans.
Generally, any kind of addiction has a severe impact on the gastrointestinal system of an addict. Therefore, addicts should have a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables containing fibers, since it will help the process of food being converted into energy and basic nutrients to feed the entire body.
Decreased Processed Foods Consumption
Most addicts, especially the ones who have abused alcohol, have a damaged liver. Therefore, helping the liver to recover is one of the first steps to help the addict become healthier. So, it is important to not eat foods that are processed and have artificial ingredients, like any kind of fast food.
More Healthy Foods
Healthy fats help the body of the addict to absorb the vitamins that are fat soluble. The best healthy fat foods are avocado, flax-seed oil, olive or coconut oil, fatty fish, flax seeds, and nuts. Those are rich in vitamins, healthy fats; as well as helping to reduce the risk of heart attack; boosting your immune system; and, even, moisturizing your skin.
Common withdrawal symptoms of the early recovery period are insomnia and anxiety. Caffeine consumption only increases the intensity of those; therefore, addicts should preferably stay away from products which contain caffeine, like coffee, black tea, sodas, energy drinks, etc.
Addicts are encouraged to have a meal every three to four hours or six small meals a day. It is very important to keep the blood sugar level in check. A strong correlation has been noted between the changes in blood sugar (increased level of it) and mood swings, anxiety and depression.
“People who have been abusing [drugs and alcohol] tend to lose sight of self-care”
- Maura Henninger