Everyone has heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” In the case of substance use, a person trying to detox has been consuming what is, in effect, poison. That makes nutrition even more important to addiction recovery.
This article explores the connection between good nutrition and addiction recovery. How does proper nutrition help an addicted person recover? What are some nutritional guidelines to follow? How does nutrition play a part in total well being?
Addiction Recovery Requires Improved Nutrition
Good nutrition in addiction recovery is simply a necessity. Today’s Dietitian suggests that nutrition may be overlooked as part of substance use treatment, but its importance cannot be discounted. They suggest:
“Nutrition therapy for substance abuse is complex, as the nutritional risks vary depending on the substance of choice and negative conditions for successful treatment are common, including poor support, co-occurring mental health disorders, or poverty.”
Because addiction negatively affects the body, proper nutrition and hydration will provide the additional support that allows the body to recover faster from the toxins that have circulated and caused such physical and mental harm. People with substance use disorders often fail to eat at all, let alone eat foods that heal the body. Stimulants suppress appetite, while other drugs cause cravings for sugar or other unhealthy snacks, which cause weight gain.
Addiction recovery that emphasizes nutrition can help the body in the following ways:
- Good food can help the body repair itself from the damage brought on by the substance misuse.
- It can help stabilize and regulate mood by leveling out the lows and highs that can lead to substance abuse.
- Proper nutrition can even help reduce cravings for alcohol and drugs.
- It can help pave the way for diagnosis of underlying co-occurring mental disorders.
- It can encourage and teach people to take better care of themselves.
Part of the process of using nutrition in addiction recovery includes diagnosing a diet designed specifically to treat any nutritional deficiencies correlated with substance use. This is an individualized process that is vital to a speedy detox and recovery. According to Today’s Dietitian, some of the caloric intakes should likely include:
- Carbohydrates can help with the production of serotonin, which can improve and stabilize mood and curb cravings.
- Foods high in amino acids, like proteins, have been proven to reduce craving, anger and aggression.
- Reducing bad dietary fats can also reduce inflammation and directly influence mood in positive ways.
- An omega-3 fatty acid may help with depression and improve brain function.
- Vitamins such as B6 and B12 can reduce anxiety and depression, poor attention and altered sleep patterns.
Today’s Dietitian also suggests that getting the proper amount of fluid intake is just as crucial to addiction recovery. Plenty of fresh water and limiting caffeine intake is highly recommended during the recovery process.
Washington State addiction treatment resources offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient services for people recovering from substance use disorders. This can include nutrition counseling and consultation with dietary teams to supplement traditional treatment plans. To find out more about our residential treatment facility, contact us today!