The effects of alcohol and drug abuse are devastating to the human body. During your recovery from an alcohol or drug addiction, you must address your diet. The right foods are essential for the body’s regeneration and maintenance of health.
When you abuse alcohol and drugs, you may:
- Consume less food (except with marijuana)
- Choose foods that are less nutritious and skip meals
- Increase the speed at which your body uses up energy
- Lose nutrients through vomiting and diarrhea
- Damage your gut so that it cannot absorb the nutrients in food properly
The way the brain works is influenced by what we eat. You may experience irritability and anxiety if your body does not produce enough brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) or if the chemicals are out of balance. Food aversions, anxiety, and insomnia are all possible side effects. As a result of these issues, people may become paranoid, weary, unhappy, or sad.
What and How to Eat During Recovery
It would help if you consumed a diet that will aid your recovery by balancing serotonin (a hormone that helps one relax) in your brain. This diet includes carbohydrate-rich foods like legumes (beans, lentils, peas), root vegetables (potatoes and carrots), pasta, and bread. These items, combined with protein in your meals, will maintain you at your peak performance.
B-complex vitamin deficiencies (thiamine, folate or folic acid, B12) and low levels of other B vitamins and vitamin C are common with alcoholism. Chronic alcohol intake also causes the body to lose minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and calcium. The exception is iron, which is rarely low because alcohol destroys the stomach lining, which increases iron absorption.
Your nutritional needs are higher than average for the first year after you stop using alcohol or drugs. You must ensure that you give your body nutritious foods daily. Even if you consume a healthy diet while abusing drugs or alcohol, you will have fewer nutrients available to meet your body’s demands, as the detoxification process will utilize many of those nutrients.
Alcohol-related malnutrition manifests itself in a variety of ways. You may get very weary and have a weakened immune system in the short term, making you more prone to illnesses. Dental issues, digestive issues (diarrhea, constipation, gas), skin diseases, and changes in the way foods taste are other symptoms. There is a danger of brain damage, nerve damage, liver illness, heart and pancreas difficulties, and certain types of cancer with long-term alcohol consumption. During the healing process, these issues must be identified and treated, ideally by a team of health care specialists.
Because your body may not be used to digesting food properly, you should introduce meals cautiously in the early phases of detoxification and recovery. Starting with small and frequent meals is one approach. Some people may begin to gain weight. If you are concerned about your weight or eating habits, you may require professional assistance.
A Diet for Recovery
Consuming certain foods or beverages should not be used as a coping mechanism. While sugar and caffeine can generate highs and lows, these low-nutrient items can make it challenging to eat enough healthy foods while also affecting your mood and appetite. During recovery, your daily diet should include:
- Complex carbs (50-55% of total calories consumed) including grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Two to three cups of calcium-rich dairy products or other calcium-rich foods (calcium-fortified beverages, tofu, kale)
- Moderate protein (15- 20% of calories) such as two to four ounces of meat or fish twice a day or another high-protein food such as tofu
- Fats (30% of calories) including canola, olive, flaxseed, and fish oils
Recovery Nutrition Tips
Try healthy fast-food options like salads, turkey burgers, or smoothies if you don’t like to cook, and do the following:
- Eat a variety of foods from all food groups (fruits/vegetables, grains, dairy, and meat or alternatives)
- Eat high-fiber foods like bran and oat cereals and muffins, legumes, fruits, and vegetables
- Eat breakfast and avoid skipping other meals
- Reduce your caffeine intake to less than two cups of coffee, tea, or soda each day
- Consume sugar and sweets in moderation
- Take multivitamins (ask your health care practitioner about the options)
- Drink plenty of water
In addition to these things, you should also engage in some physical activity each day and learn new techniques for dealing with stress and anxiety. Consult a counselor or nutritionist if you need help during your recovery. To understand more about the kind of nutrition your body needs, ask your doctor.
Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial during the recovery process. People recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction need to eat well to provide an adequate amount of nutrition to their bodies. The proper diet is critical to achieving nutritional equilibrium to restore the damage that addiction causes to the body. While it is often overlooked, nutrition can play a vital role in helping to restore health to the mind and body of a person in treatment and during the early stages of recovery.
By contacting the DetoxNearMe.com, you will be able to find a treatment center near you that fits your needs and can address your underlying problems for long-term recovery success. If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol or substance use disorder, now is the time to seek help. Visit us at the Detox Directory to learn about all of the opportunities that are available for you.