Drugs and alcohol interfere with the way your body is supposed to operate, wreaking havoc on your health. The intense, all-encompassing cravings of addiction further makes it harder to concentrate on meeting your needs and taking care of yourself, as substance use gets in the way of eating a healthy meal.
Recovery can be a very important time to learn how to take care of yourself, and form new habits of looking after your health. An important part of this is healthy eating, and choosing foods that best support your overall health and support your recovery. Here are some food choices that can be especially important in improving your health and mood, and give your recovery a great boast.
Your gut may have taken a beating in your addiction, but the good news is that the digestive tract has a very high cell turnover rate, and so can heal itself very efficiently. The best way to support this digestive healing is by consuming fiber and complex carbohydrates. Beans are also a strong source of protein, an essential part of restoring your energy levels and therefore improving your mood.
The high stress and chemical imbalance of substance abuse means that you need even more protein than normal. Fatty meats also contain large amounts of protein, but the higher saturated fat content will place increased stress on the digestive tract, and take more work to digest. Beans are also a strong source of amino acids, one of the most important ways the body is able to repair and restore what has been lost or damaged.
2. Filtered water
Even after your substance use has discontinued, there will be toxins and other unhealthy chemicals left behind in your body. The body will be working extra hard to expel these toxins, through urine, sweat, and breath. This in turn will decrease the amount of fluids in your body, which can increase your vulnerability to dehydration. For that reason, increasing your consumption of water is a very important way to make sure you stay healthy in withdrawal. Drink several glasses of water throughout the day, especially before and after exercise, and alongside food. If you experience any vomiting or diarrhea, be especially vigilant about replacing the lost fluid content.
3. Raw and fresh fruits and vegetables
Drugs and alcohol deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals, and so it is important to do whatever you can to eat high levels of foods that will do the best job of restoring healthy eating habits. Fruits and vegetables are the most efficient source of these essential vitamins, and so it is recommended that you eat at least five servings of these a day. Cooking and processing can deplete these foods of some of their nutritional value, so eating the foods raw and direct will give you the maximum benefits.
Snacking on carrots, celery, or fruit will have the added benefit of limiting your intake of processed sugar. It may be tempting to eat a lot of sweets as a source of comfort in the midst of early recovery, but these empty calories can lead to decreased energy, hormonal imbalance, and anxiety, and can easily simply become a new dependence. The more complex calories found in fruits and vegetables provide a more stable source of energy.
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a good further source of protein, as well as a positive source of fatty oils that help to maintain and repair cell membranes, making a big difference in how your body functions and improving your mood. Having a mixture of nuts by your side also encourages regular snacking, an essential part of eating in early recovery. Failing to eat at regular intervals can reduce blood sugar, and increase your anxiety and cravings. For that reason, many nutritionists recommend people in early recovery, at least two snack a day, alongside three meals. Nuts can be an especially good quick snack, that can allow you to go about your day taking care of yourself and your health.
5. Herbal tea and decaffeinated coffee
Caffeine is a drug with powerful impacts on the nervous system, and can easily become a substitute addiction that gets in the way of true recovery. In addition to creating its own tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms, caffeine can increase your level of stress and anxiety and make it harder to concentrate. It also has a dehydrating effect, further hampering your ability to get rid of toxins and still have enough fluids to function. For this reason, it can be very helpful to think about eliminating or reducing your level of caffeine intake, and looking for caffeine-free substitutes.