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The Importance of Good Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

by | Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 3:51PM | Published on Jul 24, 2014 | Health and Wellness

Anyone who’s been in recovery knows that early-sobriety can feel like a barrage of constant suggestions and comments on what you’re doing, what you could be doing, and what you should be doing. It’s overwhelming. However, today we’ll discuss the importance of good nutrition in addiction recovery. 

Nutrition is often overlooked in early-recovery. For someone whose primary focus is recovery from addiction, the value of diet can’t be underestimated.

The Impact of Nutrition on Your Health

Leading a healthy lifestyle starts with following the guidelines of good nutrition. Physical activity and diet can do more than help someone maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet can help people reduce their risk of chronic diseases, promote overall health, and even reduce cravings. 

Unhealthy nutrition habits are the culprit of many chronic diseases in the nation. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, osteoporosis, and even death are all connected to improper diet and unhealthy habits. 

How Nutrition and Drug Addiction Recovery Connect

Generally, most people in recovery experience cravings, lots of them. Sugar, chocolate, and other treats are one way to stave off cravings. While candy and sweet treats undoubtedly help with cravings, they aren’t the healthiest option. 

Beyond building healthy lifestyle habits, the connection between nutrition and addiction recovery is more complicated. How we feel is connected to what we eat, whether we realize it or not. When you’re under stress or in a bad mood, your body craves high fat, sugar, and salt. 

While we think these are merely cravings, there’s a chemical connection. Research suggests that the food-emotions link comes from the bacteria in our gut. Close to 95% of your body’s serotonin lives in your gastrointestinal tract.

Serotonin helps your body regulate appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain. Drugs and alcohol can deplete serotonin levels, whereas foods such as almonds, avocados, and chicken can boost serotonin to maintain a healthy balance. 

All of this comes to prove the importance of good nutrition in addiction recovery. Not to mention the connection with mental illness. Beyond that helping with cravings, a healthy diet can impact our feelings and emotions, helping people stay positive in long-term sobriety. 

The Benefits of Good Nutrition

The Benefits of Good Nutrition

Following a healthy diet can have instant benefits that most people don’t recognize. When someone tries to pursue a new and healthy diet, their bodies will start to notice the difference within a few days. Everything from fewer crampings and stomach issues, to improved mental health state, can be possible through proper nutrition. 

Reduce Risk of Disease

Diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension are the leading causes of death in the United States. All of these chronic conditions can develop when someone follows unhealthy eating habits. A balanced diet can reduce someone’s chances of developing these diseases, lower blood pressure, and more.

Maintain Healthy Energy Levels

Refined sugars and fatty foods lead to sugar or energy crashes. Instead of struggling with sugar spikes, following a healthy diet helps people maintain energy throughout the day. Additionally, avoiding sugary treats and unhealthy foods can help people focus better and feel better. As a result of understanding the importance of good nutrition, your overall health will improve.

Boost the Immune System

Good nutrition affects more than bodyweight. When people eat healthily, their immune system improves. Various studies show how obesity can weaken someone’s immune system, making them prone to getting sick from infections. Healthy habits can help boost the immune system and guard them off from flu, viruses, and other conditions. 

How to Incorporate Good Nutrition Into Your Recovery Plan

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, good nutrition is all about consuming more healthy foods, limiting sodium and saturated fats, and staying away from added sugars. 

The five main guidelines include:

  • Following healthy eating patterns
  • Focusing on nutrient-dense foods
  • Limiting calories from added sugars and saturated fats
  • Shifting to healthier foods and beverages

Most Americans don’t meet the daily requirement for most vitamins and minerals through their diets. To improve your diet and get the right nutrients you need to stay healthy, start developing healthy eating patterns by:

  • Eating a variety of veggies including dark greens, red and orange, legumes, and starchy vegetables
  • Incorporating more whole fruits
  • Adding more whole grains
  • Choosing fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Blending a variety of proteins including seafood, lean meats, poultry, soy products, nuts, and seeds
  • Choosing oils from canola, corn, olive, peanut, and sunflower
  • Maintaining sugars and saturated fats under 10 percent of daily calories consumption

Following these guidelines can help you start building a healthier lifestyle and proper nutrition habits to benefit your substance abuse recovery progress.

Finding Long-term Sobriety 

The key to finding success in long-term sobriety is maintaining healthy habits and engaging in your addiction treatment. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our aftercare programs go beyond support group meetings. We believe in building life skills that encourage recovering addicts to find health. Our treatment facilities include building life skills such as grocery shopping, understanding the importance of good nutrition, meal-prep solutions, and more. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorders, don’t hesitate to call. Recovery isn’t a one-way street or a cookie-cutter journey everyone should follow. We practice comprehensive and personalized approaches to recovery that involve every aspect of someone’s lifestyle, including their diet.

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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