Nutrition is often overlooked in the addiction recovery process. But it’s important to recognize, as drug and alcohol use takes a massive toll on your physical and mental health. By understanding what vitamins and nutrients you’re deficient in and incorporating them into your everyday diet, you can boost your recovery and have the energy to get through your days.
When you start a treatment program at Awakenings Treatment Center, we don’t waste time talking about nutrition. As an outpatient dual diagnosis rehab in California, we talk about nutrition and how to prepare well-balanced meals at home. We may also suggest that you schedule an appointment with a doctor or nutritionist to discuss your diet.
Here’s everything you need to know about nutrition and addiction.
How Drugs and Alcohol Affect the Body
Drugs and alcohol affect every part of the body. They deteriorate health by weakening the immune system, creating ulcers and disrupting normal heart rhythms. These substances can also affect the way your brain regulates neurotransmitters, causing paranoia, depression, hallucinations, memory loss and impaired judgement. In fact, 1 in 4 deaths is attributed to alcohol, tobacco or other illicit substances.
Not to mention, when you abuse drugs and alcohol, you’re not going to focus on eating healthy. Drug or alcohol addiction takes over and forces you to think only about getting your next high. Even when you enter addiction treatment in Agoura, nutrition tends to take a back seat because of the demands of day-to-day sobriety.
However, eating well should hold an important place in the recovery process as it helps the body repair the damage done by drug or alcohol abuse. Eating the right foods can also help you restore any vitamin deficiencies you may have and provide you with the stamina you need to face recovery.
Addiction is Linked to Poor Nutrition
Research shows that most people who abuse drugs or alcohol also have poor nutrition. There are several reasons for this. First, people with substance use disorders may not recognize the importance of eating healthy, something that’s more common in people with lower socioeconomic statuses.
Second, drug and alcohol use causes negative lifestyle changes like poor diet and irregular eating. These harmful habits are hard to break. People with addictions tend to eat less fruits and vegetables than the general public and crave more sweets and high-fat foods.
Lastly, the continued use of drugs and alcohol affects the stores of vitamins and minerals in your body. This is why we see lower levels of the following vitamins and nutrients in people with addictions:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin A
- Pantothenic acid
Being deficient in any of these nutrients can lead to depression, confusion, skin issues, anemia and hair loss. You’ll want to restore your levels so that the recovery process is easier. If you’re tired and have mood problems, it’s a lot harder to stay sober.
How to Start a Healthy Recovery Diet
Revamping your diet can be a challenge, especially when you’re trying to achieve and maintain sobriety. So, start small and give yourself time to adjust to the changes. In time, you’ll feel better and see the results from eating healthy.
Here are some tips for starting a recovery diet:
- Take a multivitamin. Taking a multivitamin is an easy way to build up nutrients and prevent deficiencies. Talk to your doctor for recommendations on the best multivitamin to add to your diet.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating more fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to get more vitamins and minerals. Cook vegetarian meals and cut up healthy snacks so that you’re more likely to eat well.
- Focus on color. Rather than eating the same fruits and vegetables, switch things up. You’ll get a lot more nutrients this way – and you might even find some new foods you like!
- Try something new each week. Aside from focusing on color, also work on trying a new fruit or vegetable each week (or a new recipe). Go to a farmer’s market so that you have a wider range of foods to try.
- Exercise daily. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Exercising is a healthy habit that will boost your mood, improve your energy levels and encourage you to eat healthier.
Eating healthy is important for people in recovery. It will leave you feeling better, help you avoid vitamin deficiencies and reduce your relapse risk. Contact Awakenings Treatment Center to learn more about our whole-body approach to treating substance use disorders.