The Surprising Connection Between Nutrition & Addiction Treatment
When you’re facing the challenges of addiction recovery, improving your diet might seem like a low priority. However, taking steps to improve your eating habits is actually one of the best ways to set yourself up for long-term success with your addiction treatment.
Poor nutrition and inconsistent eating habits create serious stress on your body and your brain. This makes it harder for you to feel good physically and to make good decisions. Maintaining a well-balanced diet will help you create a healthy lifestyle that supports your overall wellbeing and aids in addiction recovery.
The Problem with Malnutrition
When you’re struggling with addiction, you’re dealing with more than just substance abuse. Before you can truly feel better, you also have to address the health issues that your substance abuse has created. Some of the effects you’re probably feeling include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Low energy
- Loss of muscle tone
- Irregular heartbeat
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Skin problems
These issues are often caused by a weakened immune system, unhealthy gut bacteria, and an inability to properly absorb nutrients.
Many addicts are deficient in Vitamin B-12, which is necessary for the production of healthy nerve cells, DNA, RNA, and red blood cells. B-12 deficiency can also lead to chronic fatigue, which creates additional challenges to your addiction treatment.
Magnesium deficiencies, which are also common, can lead to muscle pain, muscle disorders, and nervous system disorders. Improving your diet and taking supplements can help reverse the damage caused by vitamin deficiencies.
Prolonged alcohol and drug use can take a major toll on your gastrointestinal system. If you’ve been abusing substances for a while, you’re likely to have issues with stomach inflammation, irregular bowel movements, and a shortage of healthy gut flora.
Eating probiotics and prebiotics can help restore your system to its previous balance, normalizing bowel movements and allowing your body to once again absorb the nutrients it needs.
Avoiding the Sugar Trap
Many people going through addiction treatment turn to sugary foods and drinks because they impact the same part of the brain as many drugs. Binging on sugary treats causes your blood sugar to rise and fall rapidly, seriously impacting your energy levels. When you come down from a sugar “high” you’ll experience a “crash” that leads to intensified cravings and a loss of willpower. Uncontrolled, this could easily send you spiraling into relapse.
Simple Steps for Improving Your Diet
While you may agree that eating better sounds like a good idea, many people (addicted or not) don’t know where to start when it comes to cleaning up their diet. These simple tips will help you get started.
1. Eat Regularly
Your body and mind are constantly using up energy. Eating every three to four hours will help keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable. This gives you the ongoing support you need without spikes and dips.
2. Choose Your Foods Wisely
Your overall goal should be to consume the right amount of calories to support your body’s functions, maintain a healthy weight, and give you enough energy to be physically active. Focus on getting these calories primarily from whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. If possible, avoid fast food, refined sugars, and other junk foods completely.
3. Keep it Simple
When you’re first starting to improve your diet, try to keep things simple. You’ll need to use your energy to focus on your addiction treatment, so now isn’t the time to push yourself out of your comfort zone with a lot of exotic foods. Instead, choose a few healthy staples that you enjoy eating.
Learn how to make some fast and easy recipes that don’t have a ton of ingredients. If you crave variety, try experimenting with making one new meal a week until you have a good rotation of simple meals that you enjoy.
4. Expect Mistakes
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a constant struggle, even for people who aren’t struggling with addiction. Expect that you’ll slip up once in a while, and don’t beat yourself up if you do. Instead, acknowledge that you made a poor food choice and get right back on track.
5. Seek Support
Overcoming addiction is hard. So is changing your eating habits. Luckily, you don’t have to do any of it alone. Seeking help from an online outpatient addiction treatment program will help you get the support you need throughout your recovery.
The Future’s in Your Hands, Start Today
When you start incorporating nutrition & addiction treatment, your body will begin to heal itself. You’ll quickly notice improvements in your mental clarity. You’ll start feeling stronger, happier, and more energetic. Best of all, your cravings for drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy foods will begin to wane. When this happens, you’ll know you’re on the track to true recovery.