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05 Dec 2022
Health & Wellness

How Diet Changes Support Your Substance Recovery Journey

Nutrition diet benefits and improves the lives of everyone, whether you’re a recovering addict or not. It improves your physical and mental health, a vital aspect of addiction recovery. Correcting bad eating habits gives your body and brain the nutrients and strength to divert from craving alcohol and drugs.

An excellent substance abuse treatment involves more than just alcohol anonymous meetings and therapy. It considers all aspects that’ll help boost your recovery, and nutrition is one of them. You’ll need access to nutrition education and medical food therapy while on your recovery to help you understand why you should change your diet and how it helps enhance your recovery progress.

Recovery centers will educate you on the need for dieting throughout your program and help monitor you when still in the facility. However, the moment you leave the treatment facility, it becomes your responsibility to watch out for yourself and monitor your diet for recovery.

Optimizes Physical Health

Perhaps you’d want to know how diet changes support your substance recovery journey. Here are a few benefits of diet changes to your substance recovery treatment:

1.Optimizes Physical Health

Drugs and alcoholic substances drain your body and damage most parts or organs. As a result, your body becomes weak and vulnerable to infectious and opportunistic diseases. Luckily, you can avoid all these with several diet changes.

A healthy, balanced diet gives you the energy you need to maintain focus and keep you active throughout your recovery. Of course, you’ll need time and patience to regain your pre-addiction physical health with most treatment programs. But adding minerals, vitamins, and nutrients to your diet will do wonders for your recovery journey. The best thing about substance recovery is that there are always support groups, individuals, and centers willing to help with your recovery. If you’re on the West Coast, you can follow this link to join a recovery center that’ll help with your journey.

2.Corrects Deficiencies

Drug abuse may lead to nutritional deficiencies when your body lacks nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. Low quantities of these nutrients in the body may damage your body organs and mental and physical health, decrease immunity, and affect your immune system. Alcoholism or drug abuse affects your eating patterns, reducing the nutrients you get into your body. Common deficiencies you may experience include:  

  • Vitamin D and B deficiencies: Alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to absorb vitamins B and D. Doctors associate low Vitamin D levels with psychotic symptoms, suicidal tendencies, schizophrenia, depression, and use disorder. Low vitamin B levels, on the other hand, may lead to memory loss, confusion, irritability, mood changes, anemia, fatigue, insomnia, and memory loss.  
  • Omega-3 deficiency: It occurs due to an insufficient quantity of fatty acids in the body, which is very common in alcoholics. Omega-3 deficiency may lead to aggressive behaviors, depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies.   
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) deficiency: This deficiency may affect you during your recovery. Its symptoms include heart muscle weakness, low blood sugar, brain abnormalities, and abdominal pain.   
  • Calcium deficiency: It’s another common deficiency you may need to rectify during your recovery. You may experience memory loss, abdominal pains, muscle pain, depression, and confusion when you have a calcium deficiency.  

Correcting these deficiencies may take longer, but when you start eating healthy, it may improve in good time. Consider including the following minerals in your diet for a smooth recovery:  

  • Iron: You’ll find this mineral in foods such as spinach, dried meat, soybean flour, shellfish, legumes, turkey, liver, and pumpkin seeds.  
  • Selenium: The main source of selenium is animal proteins such as dairy products, red meat, eggs, chicken, quals, and turkey, but you may also acquire them from daily staples like cereals and bread.   
  • Potassium: You’ll get potassium from legumes, dairy foods, leafy green and starchy vegetables, avocados, bananas, and potatoes.  
  • Zinc: Oysters are the best sources of zinc, but you can also obtain it from red meat, fruits like avocados, and poultry like chicken and turkey.   
  • Chromium: You can obtain chromium from many sources, including brewer’s yeast, grain products, meat, nuts, fruits, wine, spices, and fruits.  
  • Vitamin D: It’s obtained from oily fish (such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, and herring), egg yolks, fortified food, red meat, and liver.  
  • Vitamin B: Good sources of vitamin B include peas, broccoli, leafy green vegetables, kidney beans, liver, fortified cereals, and chickpeas.   

Considering these nutrients in your diet can be challenging for you. But, you need to discipline yourself because these things will help you speed up your substance recovery journey.

3.Improves Your Mood

Diet changes improve more than the physical state. It nourishes your mental health, preventing breakdowns and mood swings. Alcoholics typically exhibit poor eating habits that lead to insufficient nutrients in the body. In turn, the neurotransmitters such as serotonin in your brain change, leading to anxiety and depression.

However, proper dieting can help maintain the desired levels of these neurotransmitters and enhance your moods. Consider eating high-protein food with tryptophan, such as:   

  • Bananas  
  • Milk  
  • Tofu  
  • Eggs  
  • Hazelnuts and almonds  
  • Sesame, cashews, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower 

4.Balances Electrolytes

Electrolytes are electric-charged minerals in your blood tissues, urine, and other body fluids. They play a part in balancing the water levels in your blood. When in low quantities, you may experience muscle cramps, weakness, paralysis, respiratory issues, and spasms.

Substance abuse interferes with the absorption, regulation, distribution, and elimination of electrolytes in the body. The changes are life-threatening and may cause excess excretion of electrolytes and water in response to excess alcohol intake.

However, you can easily maintain optimal electrolytes balance by eating healthy vegetables and fruits. Therefore, diet changes are critical to helping you balance electrolytes in your body that may have been affected during the height of your drug abuse.

5.Prevents Relapse

Good dieting and nutrition keep your brain focused and help you learn new habits. It means eliminating any practices that may lead to a relapse. However, your focus may alter when there are urges and many triggers to use again all around you. Therefore, should consider the following to keep your mind off drugs and accomplish long-term sobriety:  

  • Steer clear from low-carb diets: This is because fad diets restrict your nutrients intakes. Also, carbohydrates such as whole grains, quinoa, and unsweetened dairy products enhance your serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that sends messages from the brain to all your body parts.
  • Partner with a nutritionist: Nutrition is part of a healthy recovery plan. It’s, therefore, necessary to partner with a nutritionist to know the diet changes required to aid in your recovery journey.  
  • Avoid processed food: Keep away from processed food because they won’t give you the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy body throughout your recovery. Instead, eat a balanced diet. 
  • Never miss breakfast: Start your day with a healthy meal to maintain your energy, boost your mood and reduce hunger cravings you can easily mistake for substance urges.
  • Have a nutritional plan: A meal plan will help you concentrate on healthy foods with the desired nutrients. A good nutrition plan involves:
  • Regular intake of minerals and vitamins supplements 
  • Regular eating times 
  • Proper dieting 
  • Get someone to hold you accountable. Finding someone to help you discipline yourself and maintain good eating habits will be best. It may be a friend, a mentor, a family friend, or a colleague.

6.Assists The Brain In Relearning Healthy Habits

Your brain memorizes many unhealthy habits once you start abusing drugs. Substance use makes your brain dependent on alcohol and drugs to function and feel normal. Fortunately, the brain has neuroplasticity abilities and can change and relearn good habits when you put in the effort.  

Nutrition boosts your brain’s ability (neuroplasticity) to relearn and grasp healthy habits. Restoring the brain may take some time, but by dieting, you may stand a chance to boost your brain capabilities and recover faster. Here’s how dieting helps your brain to recover: 

Amino acids: Including seafood, cheese, milk, red meat, yogurt, chia seeds, fruits, vegetables, legumes, quinoa, and chicken in your diet helps you maintain the right amount of amino acids in the body. It helps boost dopamine levels in the brain, motivating the brain to learn, change, and replicate good habits.  

Carbohydrates: The brain needs neurotransmitters such as serotonin to send messages throughout the body. Carbohydrates boost the production of serotonin, which is vital in reducing your cravings for drugs and giving your brain the space to focus on learning new habits.  

Healthy fats: Meals with enough quantities of healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds, salmon, soymilk, tuna, and peanut butter aid in recovery by protecting cell membranes and eliminating inflammation, reducing the time the brain takes to adopt healthy habits. 

7.Prevents Dehydration And Constipation

You may experience vomiting, excessive sweating, and diarrhea during your withdrawal phase, which may lead to dehydration. However, you can prevent this by taking adequate electrolyte fluids and water and limiting caffeinated drinks.  

As earlier established, alcoholism and drug abuse lead to poor dieting and nutrition. Lacking minerals such as fiber from your body will make you constipated, which is a very uncomfortable ordeal. But you can beat these odds by practicing good dieting during your recovery. It’ll be best if you take foods rich in fiber and drink lots of water.  

8.Improves Oral Health  

Drugs, such as opioids, cause a reduction in saliva, an essential component in preventing tooth decay and gum infections and supporting digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth, and oral health issues complicate consumption and digestion.

Fortunately, eating meals rich in phosphorus and vitamin C will help promote oral health. You’ll acquire phosphorus from lean meat, nuts, beans, fish, and eggs. On the other hand, you get vitamin C from citrus fruits, blackcurrants, broccoli, potatoes, and brussels sprouts. 

9.Maintains Balance In Your Blood Sugar

You may experience blood sugar crashes during recovery because substance abuse interferes with your blood sugar. However, proper dieting combats hypoglycemia eliminating low blood sugar. You should consider eating meals rich in healthy sugars to restore your blood sugar to healthy levels. Such foods are rich in carbohydrates, and they include:  

  • Whole grain cereals and bread  
  • Squash  
  • Barley  
  • Beans  
  • Lentils  
  • Sweet potatoes  
  • Oatmeal  
  • Potatoes  
  • Peas   

10.Helps You Get Enough Rest

Substance abuse and use may disrupt your resting pattern because it affects sleep duration, latency, and quality. Sleep deprivation leads to irritability, mood changes, fatigue, and memory loss. Luckily, a well-balanced diet will provide you with the right amount of fiber and sugar your body needs to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.   

You may want to consider eating meals high in magnesium to improve your sleep quality because they reduce cortisol levels, a stress hormone, and promote healthy sleep. Other than giving you the energy you need for recovery, getting sufficient rest also:  

  • Improves your physical and mental health  
  • Keeps your moods in check  
  • Heightens your concentration levels  
  • Prevents relapse  
  • Improves your immune system  

Conclusion

Diet and nutrition are critical for your general health. It helps improve your brain functioning, improves your sleeping patterns, and balances electrolytes in the body. All these are crucial factors during your recovery journey, and you may want to meet with a nutritionist to help you develop a healthy meal plan. The recovery process may be long, weary, and with many withdrawal symptoms, but experts, friends, and family are willing to hold your hand throughout your journey.

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