How Does Nutrition Impact Addiction Recovery?

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Long-term substance abuse of either drugs or alcohol puts a remarkable amount of stress on the mind and body. Not only that, but people who struggle with substance use disorders are more likely to make poor choices when it comes to nutrition, which adds to that stress.

Substance use disorders can significantly interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients from food. In fact, excessive alcohol use often causes two types of malnutrition: primary and secondary. Primary malnutrition happens when alcohol replaces other nutrients in your diet, and you begin to eat less as a result. Secondary malnutrition happens when a person is getting enough nutrients, but the alcohol is interfering with their ability to absorb them from the intestine.

Nutrition and addiction recovery are intimately linked, as proper nutrition can help both your brain and body heal from chronic substance abuse and increase your odds of getting sober and staying sober.

Nutrition and addiction recovery

You may be tempted to indulge in junk food while you’re recovering from addiction, but this can hinder your recovery process and make it more difficult for you to avoid a relapse. Balanced meals that include complex carbohydrates can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Making sure to eat a well-balanced diet will help you recover from addiction faster and lower your risk of relapse. Stay on track with your recovery with these nutritional guidelines:

  • Caffeine
    Lower your caffeine intake, as it can cause dehydration and suppress your appetite.
  • Complex carbs
    Eat more complex carbs like vegetables, whole grains and legumes to boost energy, speed up metabolism and preserve muscle mass.
  • Exercise
    Boost mood, improve body image, increase energy levels, alleviate cravings and reduce your risk of relapse with daily low-impact exercise.
  • Fiber
    Feel fuller longer and alleviate cravings when you fill your plate with beans, broccoli, avocados, berries, apples and whole grains.
  • Processed foods
    Avoid processed foods. They lack nutritional value and are often high in trans fats, which have been linked to higher rates of mood swings, memory loss and depression.
  • Protein
    Eating protein like eggs, almonds, chicken breast and cottage cheese at every meal can help build muscles weakened by malnutrition.
  • Small meals
    Eating 5-6 smaller meals at even intervals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar levels high and decrease the craving for unhealthy snacks between meals.
  • Sugar
    It is common to crave sugar in recovery because it can be addictive and trigger the brain’s reward system.
  • Vitamins
    Talk to one of the skilled specialists at Miramar Recovery Center to find out which vitamins and supplements are right for you.
  • Water
    Dehydration is common among those in recovery, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water during and between meals.

Here are a few additional benefits of eating a well-balanced diet during recovery:

  • Repairs damage to organs and tissues
  • Improves immune response
  • Increases energy
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces risk of relapse due to fatigue or depressed mood

Miramar Recovery Center offers safe, effective treatment for substance use disorders. As part of inpatient therapy, you will receive healthy food education and guidance from a registered dietitian so you can learn how to eat well and stay on track with your recovery. Call 949-691-5036 to learn more about our integrative treatment services.


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