Legacy Healing Center Blog
The Importance of Good Nutrition in Successful Addiction Recovery
You know the old saying, “you are what you eat”? It speaks to how proper nutrition can fuel your body and contribute to overall better quality of life. For people struggling with substance abuse, adequate nutrition is even more important.
While in the midst of active addiction, it is not uncommon for people to neglect nutrition. Lacking quality food can make the physical effects of addiction even worse and makes proper nourishment an essential element of successful addiction treatment.
The Toll Drug and Alcohol Abuse Takes on the Body
As with anything you put into your body, any long-term, excessive drug and alcohol use will significantly impact your health and nutrition. When proper nutrition remains neglected, it can disrupt the physiological functioning of our bodies. Common impairments include:
- Poor Diets: When substances are prioritized over adequate nutrition, diets are typically not full of nutrient-dense foods that help the body thrive.
- Overeating or Suppressed Appetite: Depending on the abused substances, they may inhibit or supercharge a person’s appetite. This drastic change can lead to excessive weight gain or malnutrition. Too much weight gain can lead to many health issues, such as hypertension and diabetes. Malnourishment is also problematic because it changes the body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients.
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: Drinking alcohol excessively causes the stomach to produce more acid, which can cause gastritis (the inflammation of the stomach lining). Gastritis can lead to pain, vomiting, and even bleeding. Drugs and alcohol can also cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome and inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Organ Damage: Over time, substance abuse can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive issues. Breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon cancers can also develop. Hepatitis, cirrhosis, and fatty liver disease can also occur due to excessive drinking.
- Hypoglycemia: When improper nutrition is paired with substance abuse, it can cause blood sugar imbalance.
How Nutrition Supports Recovery
Eating healthy food fuels the body to function best, particularly when someone is in recovery. Consuming a nutrient-dense diet will allow the body to thrive while learning how to live without substances. The food you put in your body serves as your fuel and energy for the day. The more nutrients you can consume, the better your body will respond while going through the challenges of recovery.
The Importance of Nutrition During Detox
Detoxing your body from drugs, alcohol, and other toxins represents one of the most challenging parts of recovery. It can be both physically and mentally exhausting, so the body must receive the necessary nutrients to function at its best.
Keep in mind, detox can decrease your appetite, so supplementing your meals with vitamins, protein shakes, and smoothies helps maintain the nutrients you need to be successful. This process will also help to make up for any vitamin deficiencies you may have. Common vitamins given during detox are Vitamin D, B, Zinc, Iron, and Folate.
Also, establishing a routine of consuming three nutritious meals and two snacks each day will allow your metabolism to adjust to proper nutrition.
Consuming enough fiber will help prevent constipation, common with opioid use, so ensure you are eating enough fruits and vegetables.
Healing Common Nutrient Deficiencies Found in Recovering Addicts
While in recovery, be sure to eat foods that will help balance the serotonin levels in your brain. To do this, foods high in complex carbohydrates should be added to meals. This list includes beans, lentils, potatoes, rice, and whole-grain bread. When combined with protein, it will help regulate serotonin better. B-complex vitamin deficiencies are also common with alcoholism. These vitamins may include thiamine, folic acid, and B12. Most multivitamins contain these, so talk to your physician about supplementing your diet with vitamins.
Learning How to Eat for Long-Term Success in Recovery
After you complete detox, you will work with registered dietitians to learn how to plan meals to help you be successful in your recovery. Legacy Healing Center will help tailor a plan that fits your specific needs. Some of the dietary adjustments our dietitians may suggest include:
- Eating more complex carbs such as grains, beans, pasta, bread, and lentils, which will provide your body with long-lasting energy.
- Developing a consistent exercise routine to boost mood and metabolism while increasing energy.
- Taking vitamins and supplements to repair any deficiencies you may have.
- Limiting sugar and caffeine as it can cause dehydration and appetite suppression.
- Reducing sugar intake because it can trigger the chemicals in your brain that are activated by substance use.
- Consuming adequate protein and fiber to give you energy and prevent constipation.
- Establishing a meal schedule to provide your body consistency and avoid episodes of low blood sugar.
If you are ready to work towards a better life than you have ever imagined possible, please reach out to our addiction specialists at Legacy Healing Center today. As always, your call is confidential, and our specialists are standing by 24/7 to help get you started.