Towards the beginning of November, we wrote about the importance of staying physically active during addiction treatment and thereafter. The fitness of one’s body plays a significant role in bolstering mental health. So, it will probably be of little surprise to read that what you eat should be something worth considering for anyone in addiction recovery.
Individuals battling alcohol and substance use disorder are known to put physical and nutritional health at the bottom of the priorities list. When all of one’s energy is directed toward fueling the fires of their disease, it is nearly impossible to maintain a well-balanced diet. When such people present to addiction treatment centers or transitional living environments, few understand how to eat right. Moreover, many fail to grasp how eating healthy foods can improve their mood and thus strengthen their ability to stay on track.
While everyone learns about the five recommended food groups (i.e., fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy) at a young age, most lose sight of the value of a well-balanced diet as they age. It isn’t just addicts and alcoholics who eat processed or “fast-foods,” but those hoping to heal from the effects of prolonged drug and alcohol use have perhaps the most to gain from making dietary changes. How you eat impacts how you feel; and, your mood can either deter or be the catalyst for a relapse.
Eating Healthy In Addiction Recovery
The internet is laden with valuable information about making healthy adaptations to one’s diet. Several experts in the field of addiction have laid out foods to avoid and which ones to welcome. Two things to keep in mind: adopting a healthy diet is a process, and obsessing over your diet is not beneficial.
In treatment, individuals learn that nothing changes if nothing changes. Such people also learn that the only thing that has to change in recovery is—everything. Still, moving away from unhealthy food to those rich in nutrients isn’t going to happen overnight. Making small changes, incrementally, will make the transition to healthier foods much less painful. People in recovery can also benefit from discussing their diet with a nutritionist. Those residing in treatment or sober living homes can even talk about eating healthy with their counselors or support group.
Unhealthy eating, after all, is synonymous with people in early recovery. Continuing to eat the way you were when using drugs and alcohol can deleteriously affect your recovery. Making the transition from processed to whole foods will aid you in your recovery; when combined with exercise, a sound diet will translate to a healthier mind. Whole foods are chock-full of essential amino acids and antioxidants.
One addiction expert points out that whole foods contain the amino acid Tyrosine; during digestion, tyrosine-rich foods convert to dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter). People in early recovery are known to have low levels of dopamine in the brains, which can cause depressive symptoms and in turn, cravings for drugs and alcohol. If eating healthy boosts dopamine levels and stabilizes one’s mood, it means that the behavior can help prevent relapse.
Orange County Addiction Services
If you require addiction treatment or sober living, then you have come to the right place! At Pacific Shores, we offer a full continuum of care that includes holistic relapse prevention and therapies. Please contact us to learn more about our programs and to begin a journey of healing and recovery.