Good nutrition is important to human health in so many ways, but most people are not aware of the connection between a healthy diet and recovery from addiction. Whether a person is addicted to alcohol or drugs, their addiction is based on a need to satisfy their craving for a certain substance. Since many addicts have extremely poor eating habits, they may confuse hunger with a need for the substance they are addicted to.
Unhealthy Foods to Avoid
Some drug and alcohol recovery programs tout the idea that patients should indulge in eating any kind of foods they want. This behavior often results in a new addiction to sugar and junk foods, so people often gain weight during the course of their treatment. Sugar affects the body in ways similar to alcohol and drugs, creating a sugar high that ends with a crash and cravings for more sugar. While fruit sugars are generally fine to consume, refined sugars–often found in abundance in processed snacks and fast food–should be avoided. Homemade meals made with sugar should limit the amount of refined white sugar used, opting instead to use honey or raw sugar in recipes.
Feel Better Naturally
Good nutrition is important for recovering addicts because it makes them feel better physically, and certain foods provide neurotransmitters that result in a feeling of well-being. Addictive substances such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine artificially stimulate the brain with serotonin and dopamine, so staying sober becomes easier when these neurotransmitters are supplied through a healthy diet. A diet high in fish and meat supplies phenylalanine, so an individual does not experience withdrawal symptoms from the neurotransmitter. Healthy, well-rounded diets can limit the potency of cravings for addictive substances (if not eliminate them entirely) making eating well an essential part of the recovery process.
Heal the Body and Mind With Good Nutrition
Nutritionists working at a drug rehab center recommend a diet rich in whole grains and protein for those in recovery. High quality proteins supply the amino acids necessary for neurotransmitter healing to take place. The diet that is properly balanced should also include fresh fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Supplements such as Omega 3, Vitamin B and Vitamin D are recommended to restore a body subjected to long-term dietary neglect.
Hunger is a craving not unlike the need to use drugs or alcohol, so it is recommended that people enrolled in a recovery program eat several small meals during the day rather than two larger ones. Each meal should contain 10 to 15 grams of protein, beginning with breakfast eaten within a half hour of arising.
The development of nutritional guidelines is important for anyone recovering from addiction. Healthy snacks are an important part of good nutrition too, and a handful of nuts can help stave off cravings that may tempt an addict to return to substance abuse.