The foods you eat can affect your mood. Anything you put in your body will affect it, and someone with a previous addiction should know this well. They know the substances they use affect their mental and physical health. However, when in recovery, those with a substance addiction may want to splurge on sweets and junk foods to keep them going.
Proper nutrition is vital for anyone, and those recovering from an addiction are no exception. People often enter rehab with little to no knowledge about the foods they should be consuming to help them through the recovery process. Eating the right foods can significantly help them as they overcome the obstacles ahead of them.
Substance abuse affects basic wellness. Substance abuse affects basic wellness. Alcohol can prohibit the body from absorbing nutrients, and opiates can affect digestive health. Stimulants cause suppression in appetite. Instead of fighting two dragons — the addiction and nutrition — those in recovery should focus on slaying the habit by eating well.
A diverse and well-balanced diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and grains is excellent for recovery. Certain foods are especially beneficial for someone getting over their addiction.
Here are 11 healthy foods to heal the body during addiction recovery.
Although water isn’t food per se, it’s still one of the most essential things a recovering person can put in their body. Humans need a certain level of hydration to function properly. Women need about 91 ounces, and men need about 125 ounces per day. Drinking water helps flush out toxins leftover from substances, and it aids in healing and digestion. The kidneys function better, and the recoverer will have more energy.
Yogurt is one of the best foods for nutrition and recovery. Plain, sugar-free Greek yogurt is one of the healthiest options, but all versions contain probiotics. If someone is recovering from alcohol or opiates, they need help with their digestive and gastrointestinal systems. These substances disrupt the natural process, which is why addicts may have diarrhea or constipation. The probiotics in yogurt can help normalize the digestive tract.
Like yogurt, blueberries can help regulate the digestive and immune systems. They’re full of antioxidants — more than most other fruits and vegetables. Toxins affect various bodily systems when a substance enters the body, wreaking havoc. Eating blueberries can boost the immune system to clear them away.
4. Whole Grain Pasta
One of the best things about whole grain pasta is that it is full of fiber and minerals. Other whole-grain items are great for addiction recovery, too, like oatmeal, bread, and cereals. Fiber helps clear out the digestive system, just like yogurt. Adding whole grains and fiber into an addict’s diet can help their overall digestive health, which likely suffered during the substance abuse.
Tofu is made from soy and is in many Asian dishes as a replacement for meats. It’s a low-calorie and low-fat protein that can help the liver recover from the damage caused by drugs and alcohol. It boosts gut health, and since it’s so soft, it’s easy to digest. Any protein is great for liver function, but with tofu, the liver won’t produce bile. Since there’s no fat, it allows for a slow and steady healing process.
Bananas are full of potassium and tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that isn’t processed very well when someone is using alcohol and drugs. This amino acid is essential for forming serotonin, which is the chemical that helps promote proper sleep and relaxation. Eating bananas will help recovering addicts with their overall mood and sleep schedule, essential for healing.
Fish is an excellent protein source for a general diet, but it helps those in recovery because it contains tyrosine and L-glutamine. Tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine, which is the “feel-good” hormone. These levels will be low during early recovery, so to boost motivation and energy, substance abusers should eat fish. L-glutamine is present in fish as well. It’s an amino acid that helps reduce sugar cravings and is excellent for the immune system.
Cheese is an excellent high-protein snack that can help recovering addicts as they journey toward sobriety. It can help ease cravings when the desire for a certain substance hits. Cheese also contains tyrosine, just like fish, which can aid digestion and dopamine levels.
Another antioxidant-rich food is artichokes. Anything packed with antioxidants helps the immune system rebuild after any damage from the addiction. They help speed up the cleansing process as the addict’s body detoxes and goes through withdrawal. Artichokes are also low in fat, rich in fiber, have tons of vitamins and minerals, and help regulate blood pressure.
10. Leafy Greens
Everyone should incorporate leafy greens into their diets. They are full of L-glutamine, just like fish. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, parsley, and kale help boost L-glutamine levels. Eating these foods in their purest state, so more natural elements can get into the body, helps with recovery. Besides that, they are high in fiber and low in calories, and they can reduce obesity risk, heart disease, and mental decline.
11. Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are full of the neurotransmitter GABA, the gamma-aminobutyric acid that functions as the primary inhibitor for the nervous system. It affects how people experience things like fear, stress, and anxiety. It can help slow down or block nerve signals that reduce anxiety, something people going through recovery may face. Eating cherry tomatoes can ease any withdrawal discomforts.
Where to Begin?
Healthy eating habits are important for everyone, and it’s even more essential during recovery. Someone struggling with addiction may be malnourished and not have the proper skills to know what to put in their bodies. It’s all about a change of mindset.
The recoverer should start small. These changes happen over time. Cutting out junk foods or adding a leafy green to the diet are great starts. Additionally, drinking water every day and choosing foods in their most natural form are the best ways to restore lost nutrients and get rid of additional toxins.
Besides healthy eating, someone recovering should exercise to boost endorphins and help treatment. They don’t have to go to the gym every day, but a short walk or some light weight training can boost their mood and motivation to continue their recovery journey. Plus, keeping a log of what they do every day can help them see their progress and stay on track.
Eating Healthy During Recovery
Proper nutrition is a leading factor in a recovering addict’s success. With the right foods and mindset, someone on the sobriety track can be more motivated to continue their journey.