The role of nutrition in addiction recovery is incredible. Our body responds to chemical balances that fluctuate over time. What we eat directly impacts how we feel, how much stress we experience, depression, and more. This is why, from the early days in rehab, patients start following an addiction recovery diet that fosters balancing. Here are some nutrition tips for addicts in recovery that can help prevent relapse and foster a healthier lifestyle.
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1. Get the Right Vitamins
Most recovering addicts struggle with vitamin deficiencies. Working with a holistic treatment team is critical to address these imbalances early on in the recovery process. For example, most recovering addicts are deficient in B vitamins, vitamin C and E, calcium, niacin, and magnesium.
Studies show that vitamin B12 injections can prevent relapse and help reverse vitamin deficiencies. Optimal levels of vitamins also reduce depression, fatigue, and other common side effects of addiction.
2. Food Journals Can Help Prevent Relapse
The role food plays in our mental health is too significant to ignore. The type of foods we ingest can affect how we feel. A food journal can give people an insight into how they’re eating and how it affects their moods. Keeping a food journal can help you identify triggers that make you choose unhealthy foods, pinpoint which foods cause adverse effects, and gives you an understanding of your diet as a whole.
A food journal is usually recommended for those who have trouble practicing mindful eating. However, it can help anyone who’s in their recovery journey. The more we understand the potential triggers around us, the better we can prepare ourselves for managing those triggers.
3. Plan Smaller Meals Throughout the Day
A big misconception about a healthy diet is that it only includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, recovering addicts do best when eating smaller meals throughout the day. Cravings for sugary sweets or even drugs often happen because our metabolism keeps fluctuating throughout the day. Only eating three large meals a day causes sugar spikes in our body that also create fluctuations in our mood and energy levels.
So, one way to prevent this from happening is by incorporating healthy snacks in between meals. Also, eating smaller meals overall can help maintain metabolism at a steady line. When we do this, we manage hunger and blood sugar levels better to prevent those spikes that can cause cravings.
4. Detox from Unhealthy Foods
Continuing the previous point about sugars, it’s vital to detox our bodies from harmful and toxic food ingredients. While it might take time and it will be challenging, recovering addicts are encouraged to eliminate sugar, additives, cut down on caffeine, and start eating fresh food rather than processed foods. It can be challenging at first, but detoxifying from these foods can help you maintain more stable blood sugar levels and prevent cravings overall.
In many cases detoxing patients realize that while the cravings for sugar and processed foods were high, the actual act of eating those substances didn’t bring them any sense of satisfaction and merely made them feel guilty. It’s a similar feeling to relapsing after rehab, so if you’re taking this huge step to take control of your well-being, it can be an excellent way to start practicing your relapse prevention skills.
5. Add Antioxidants and Probiotics
Last but not least, you got to take care of your gut. Our gut bacteria are responsible for virtually everything we do. Researchers continue to study the connection between gut health and mental health. In fact, some researchers believe they’ve found a link between gut health and addiction. Ensuring we create a balanced environment for our gut bacteria is critical for long-term recovery, overall health, and improved mental health.
Incorporating foods rich in probiotics or taking probiotic supplements can help restore the gut balance and repopulate your gut with good bacteria. The best way to do this is via the consumption of prebiotic and probiotic yogurts, which contain live bacteria, as well as the food that those bacteria need.
You should also increase your intake of antioxidants. Antioxidants eliminate disease-causing free radicals from your body, strengthening your immune system, reducing the risk of illness, and generally making you feel healthier.
At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, nutritional coaching is a significant component of our treatment programs. Our holistic staff is always sharing nutrition tips for addicts in recovery with our community online and in-person. We know that addiction is a complex disease that requires a comprehensive and holistic approach to get treated fully.