Addiction recovery is nuanced and multifaceted. There’s no one-size fits all approach, and many individuals benefit from a combination of medical and holistic interventions.
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best holistic steps people facing addiction can take to support their recovery. Here are some dietary focal points to start with, and how they support overcoming addiction.
How a Healthy Diet Supports Recovery
When struggling with addiction, neglecting your diet and consuming unhealthy foods is common. This neglect can lead to several physical and mental health issues, making the journey to recovery even more challenging. A healthy diet can help you overcome these issues, providing the necessary nutrients to heal your body and mind.
GateHouse Treatment Centers, a nationally recognized group of experts in drug rehabilitation, says that a healthy diet during your detox or sober journey is essential to the healing process. Certain foods can help regulate your blood sugar and offset feelings of anxiety, stress, and emotional dysregulation that could trigger a relapse.
Eating protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and legumes can help provide the necessary nutrients to heal your body and mind. These foods contain amino acids, often called the “building blocks of life.” They play a vital role in repairing and building tissues that may have been damaged by substance abuse.
Consuming protein-rich foods can also help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the temptation to reach for unhealthy snacks or sugary foods. This feature can be especially helpful when dealing with cravings during recovery. Eating protein-rich foods can also help stabilize your blood sugar levels, reducing mood swings and promoting physical exercise goals to support your recovery further.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential nutrients that your body needs to function correctly. They can help strengthen your immune system, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation caused by substance abuse.
Eating “the rainbow” of fruits and vegetables can help you overcome cravings and improve your overall physical health. Different colors of fruit and vegetables typically offer unique vitamins and nutrients. The more diverse your produce choices, the better your health will become.
Many people in recovery face significant financial burdens. Purchasing local produce can help offset these costs. Eating frozen fruit and vegetables can also provide a continuous source of nutrients while minimizing costs and spoilage risk. There’s a common misconception that frozen produce is subpar. However, studies show that many frozen fruit and vegetables contain more nutrients as they’re frozen at peak freshness.
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread are packed with fiber and nutrients. They can help regulate your blood sugar levels, providing sustained energy throughout the day.
Whole grains can also help you feel fuller for longer, reducing the temptation to reach for unhealthy snacks. Some grains, like quinoa, also contain protein, allowing you to hit two birds with one stone.
Last but certainly not least is water. Staying hydrated is crucial for your physical and mental health. Drinking enough water — ideally at least two liters per day — can help improve digestion, reduce headaches, and flush toxins out of your body. It can also help reduce cravings and promote a more positive overall well-being.
Dietary changes take time to implement. Taking a habit-based approach, implementing small changes over time, is the best way to create sustainable change without additional stress during recovery.