Healthy eating habits should be developed by all, especially those who are healing from alcohol and drug addiction. Recovery from substance addiction is a time-consuming process and nutrition is one of the most important parts of it.
Unfortunately, many are not aware of how good eating habits can speed the recovery process. The fact is, addiction can take a major toll on your body. It can lead to vitamin deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, malnutrition, and even death. Nutrition-rich meals can promote healing and improve the body’s functionality during the recovery process.
In this blog, we dive deeper to understand the importance of healthy eating habits and good nutrition for addiction patients.
Role Of Healthy Eating Habits
Our body’s and brain’s ability to function depends heavily on what we eat. The food is broken down into glucose by our body and then it is released into the bloodstream. This glucose is necessary for us to maintain energy levels in the body to perform everyday chores.
Now, food is full of all kinds of nutrition such as proteins, carbs, vitamins, calories, and more. And, all of these help the body’s functionality in some or other way. For instance, carbs work as a short-term source of energy while proteins strengthen the muscles and store energy for future use. This is why maintaining balanced eating habits is essential to be fit. Addiction patients lack nutrition as alcohol and drugs toxify the body to a great extent. Eating healthy, in such scenarios, can be a game-changer.
Moreover, good food enhances brain functionality as it can produce more neurotransmitters and chemicals. Without a proper supply of nutrition, the brain fails to cope with the needs and issues such as anxiety, stress, sleep disorders occur. Ultimately, patients suffer from tiredness, paranoia, depression, etc.
Effects Of Addiction On Your Body’s Nutrition Levels
Drug and alcohol abusers often neglect their health. They tend to spend the major chunk of money and energy on substance-related tasks. Irregular meal timings and frequent junk food consumption lead to serious vitamin deficiencies in their body and they get more vulnerable to other diseases.
When you have active addiction to drugs or alcohol, the following things happen with your body:
- Energy resources in the body are used relatively faster
- Due to frequent vomiting and diarrhea, addicted individuals lose nutrition faster
- Junk food impacts their guts and their ability to consume nutritions from food is affected.
- In the long run, their appetite is lost and they tend to eat relatively less than normal people.
When such habits are carried on for a while, they leave long-term side-effects on the body which may get hard to recover.
Results Of Addiction And Bad Eating Habits Combined
Addicted individuals spend most of their income on drugs or alcohol. Ultimately, they eat cheap food which is often unhealthy. Both addiction and an unhealthy diet are dangerous for health and affect several brain and body functioning abilities. If not attended on time, patients can experience one or more of the following:
- Cognitive impairment
- Brain chemical imbalances
- Low body temperature
- Troubled immunity
- Inconsistency in heart rates
- Muscle degeneration
These health issues are quite common with addicted individuals. However, this is not a complete list and many other side-effects can occur and all of them strongly depend on what type of drug you are abusing and the duration of the addiction.
Role Of Good Nutrition In Addiction Recovery
Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is tremendously slow. In cases of alcohol addiction, the chances of relapse are even more. To avoid such unwanted things, a strong treatment plan is necessary. You cannot rely on behavioral interventions solely. The treatment plan must have proper attention to mental health conditions, social life, and most importantly, provision for nutrition-rich food. A reputable drug and alcohol rehab will always consider these practices while developing a treatment plan for addicted individuals.
Good food improves the serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin, a natural chemical released by the brain to relax the body, is important during the recovery process. Carbs are recommended for increasing serotonin levels, especially complex carbs-rich food such as beans, lentils, and peas. Root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes are also good for health during these times. Consider pasta and bread with a high-protein diet to boost the body’s immunity.
As mentioned earlier, vitamin deficiencies are common in addiction patients, and levels of folic acid, B12, thiamine, and folate can be affected. Alcohol addicts may suffer from Vitamin B, C deficiencies and lack required levels of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and calcium. During the recovery, your body demands higher amounts of nutrients, and therefore, feeding it timely with adequate food is necessary. The first year of the recovery is critical as food consumption during this period is more and the nutritions are mostly used to detoxify the body.
Remember to introduce such foods slowly to addiction patients as their bodies might not be in a state to digest heavy amounts of food initially. Include smaller meals in the first month and gradually increase the amount. Also, patients may experience a sudden increase in weight during recovery. If you want to avoid it, have a word with your nutritionist for the best solution.
Avoid food that has significant levels of caffeine and sugar as it can hamper your appetite and lead to troubles. What’s worse, such foods can trigger mood swings and cravings for drugs.
Consider the following list while creating a meal plan for addiction recovery:
- Include drinks in your diet plan that are rich in calcium. For example, kale, tofu, and dairy products.
- Add canola, olive, and flaxseed oils as it provides a significant amount of fats and calories.
- Add fruits, veggies, and grains to feed complex carbs and around 50-60% carbs.
- Add 2 to 4 ounces of fish meat to your diet. Have this at least twice a day. If you want to avoid meat, you can choose tofu as an alternative.
Tips For Easy Recovery With Good Food
- Include multivitamins in your diet plans
- Include high-fiber meals.
- Exercise every day.
- Provide sufficient amounts of water to your body.
- Do not skip meals, especially breakfast.
- Keep changing food items so that you do not get bored of the same kind of food.
Lack of nutrition can harm anyone. Healthy food has the power to combat addiction and defeat it. It helps you to get back to your normal, substance-free life much faster. Patients that follow healthy diet plans experience improved immunity, mood, memory, and physical energy.