The Importance of Diet in Addiction Recovery

Posted on :  September 11th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

When it comes to a successful recovery, people focus on a variety of things but often ignore the importance of nutrition. Eating a healthy diet is essential while going through a treatment program. It not only helps with drug withdrawal symptoms, it also aids psychological recovery and sets up healthy habits for life.

Why diet matters in addiction recovery

You’ve heard the old saying “you are what you eat.” That matters more than ever while undergoing rehab. Being clean and sober also relies upon eating clean, healthy foods. Doing so addresses nutritional deficiencies, eases withdrawal symptoms, supports mental recovery and promotes lifestyle changes.

Addicts are notorious for having poor diets. They often rely on their substance of choice instead of food for sustenance.

Being trapped in a cycle of addiction also leads to vitamin, mineral and other nutritional deficiencies. Drugs and alcohol can interfere with the body’s absorption of nutrients. Alcoholics, for example suffer from calcium deficiencies, which can lead to osteoporosis, muscle spasms and even memory loss. A healthy diet in recovery is essential to help replace such deficiencies and losses.

Aiding withdrawal and recovery

In addition to addressing nutritional deficiencies, a healthy diet also combats withdrawal symptoms. Foods rich in B vitamins, for instance, can help ease the stress and nervous tension associated with detoxing from opioids. Calcium and magnesium rich foods aid muscle twitches and cramps, while vitamin E helps repair skin damage from drug injection sites.

Drug and alcohol cravings also lessen when the body is given nutritional support. Healthy foods help sustain energy levels, leaving the body less likely to seek drugs in order to function.

A proper diet also facilitates recovery by strengthening the mind. Eating healthy reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as mood swings. Regular nutritious meals keep blood sugar levels stable, which helps with those psychological ups and downs. A successful recovery requires a good deal of mental strength, and a good diet can support that.

There is no underestimating the healing power of good nutrition. As Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician said, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine by thy food.”

Supporting a lifetime of healthy habits

Adopting a wholesome diet is a lifestyle change that supports other healthy habits, often for life.

Opting for nutritious foods leads to a sense of control that can impact other areas of a person’s existence. Making healthy food choices gives one a sense of pride that boosts self-esteem. Eventually, this feeling takes hold and influences other life choices. It can lead to many positive new developments such as starting an exercise program, taking classes, or seeking a better job.

A healthy diet, as part of an addiction recovery program, can empower an individual to make that all-important shift from addiction to achievement.

Diet dos and don’ts in recovery

Here are some dos and don’ts when trying to follow a healthy diet during recovery:

  • Do eat organic foods as much as possible.
  • Do drink plenty of filtered water.
  • Do eat complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole-grain breads, beans and starchy vegetables.
  • Do eat lycopene-rich foods, like tomatoes, to help mop up toxic drug residue in the body.
  • Do eat foods containing good fats like avocados, salmon and walnuts.
  • Do indulge in dark chocolate now and then. It’s rich in minerals and boosts mood.
  • Don’t eat junk food or processed food. An occasional treat is fine.
  • Don’t drink beverages with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
  • Don’t eat too many sugars or simple, refined carbohydrates like cakes, cookies and white bread. Avoid them as much as possible.
  • Don’t eat foods with trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils if possible.
  • Don’t expect to make dietary changes overnight. It’s a journey.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, contact Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.