The goal of substance abuse recovery is to restore the health of your body and mind. Unfortunately, those who abuse drugs and/or alcohol also have a high risk of eating disorders. By the time they seek help with their addiction, many addicts are malnourished, because they may not eat properly or enough due to interference from the substance itself or from being consumed with finding and doing the drug or alcohol. When entering a treatment center for their addiction, the last thing on someone’s mind is their diet; they are thinking about the withdrawal and what’s going to happen next. However, one of the most important things you can do for a healthy recovery is to have a healthy, nutritious diet. Here are some reasons why a healthy diet is essential for a healthy recovery.
How is Nutrition Disrupted by Substance Abuse?
Malnutrition is one of the primary side effects of an unhealthy diet, which is caused by the lack of nutrients. There is a risk of malnutrition with substance abuse because the drugs and alcohol deprive your body of the natural ability to absorb nutrients. It’s often difficult to separate the signs of hunger and the signs of needing to use, so many with a substance abuse disorder ignore their dietary needs and often rely on the use of their drug of choice as a way to relieve the emotional and physical discomfort.
Simple Tips for Healthy Eating
There are a number of substance abuse and eating disorder resource options available when it comes to getting help with improving your nutrition. It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have completely change your diet in a day. Instead, start with gradual changes and being more mindful about what you are putting in your body. For example, avoid eating processed foods and instead eat more fruits and vegetables. Make an effort to try new and different foods as well as various ways to prepare the foods you eat on a regular basis. Some changes to consider include:
- Drink plenty of water-One of the biggest depletions your body experiences when using drugs and alcohol is a lack of water in your body. By substituting water for juice, coffee, and tea, you will experience significant improvements in overall digestion and healing.
- Cut out or reduce caffeine use-Coffee and recovery often go hand in hand, but consuming too much caffeine can increase insomnia and anxiety; both of which are prevalent during early sobriety. If you don’t want to completely cut out caffeine, limit the amount you consume. For instance, if you typically drink 5 cups of coffee a day, gradually reduce the amount by one cup until you are only consuming that one cup in the morning.
- Eat more natural foods-This may be slightly confusing, but a good example is if you are drinking apple juice, it may seem like a natural choice, but eating an apple is the better option. Drinking juice often means you are also consuming sugars and other ingredients, but eating the apple means you are getting the flavor and the nutrients-without the added stuff your body doesn’t need.
- Get plenty of antioxidants-The easiest as well as the tastiest way to accomplish this is by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh foods provide more nutrients, fuel your body with antioxidants and help to improve your general overall well-being.
Although you may not be able to reverse all the damages resulting from your addiction, having good nutrition can go an extremely long way with repairing damage to organs, tissues, and areas of the brain. Eating healthy, nutritious meals will help you feel better, improve your mood and you will have the mental and physical energy you need to handle your recovery.