nutrition for addicts

Why Nutrition and Sobriety Go Together

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

You are what you eat. It’s the oldest one in the book, right? What about this one: “Your addiction recovery depends on what you eat.” Certainly, this is a bold statement, but in many ways is absolutely defensible. The reality for many, especially in early recovery, is that nutrition is the last thing on their mind. However, what we eat matters. It has a whole-person effect. Your body, your brain, your mood, and so much more are impacted, And all of these things contribute to the overall health of your recovery. So, it might not have been your first priority in the past, but it’s time to make a change.

Why is nutrition important in addiction recovery?

One could delve deeply for many days into the powerful aspects of nutrition in recovery, but here is the most important point: Addiction has damaged your body.

They say that alcoholics often drink at least one of their meals a day. While drinking large amounts of alcohol might stave off some hunger (or make you forget you were hungry in the first place), the calories are empty ones. Not to mention the damage that has occurred to your liver. We are reminded, “The body moves through four stages of liver damage as alcoholism progresses: fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and encephalopathy or coma.” Alcoholics will often find that they are lacking in many nutrients as well as deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin C, and thiamine.

Similarly, drug users often find themselves lacking important nutrients and vitamins simply because they are more concerned with getting high, or figuring out the next move to getting them closer to a fix, than eating regular meals, let alone healthy ones.

Through long periods of neglect to their diet, an addict’s overall appearance takes a hit as well. Bloodshot eyes? Sickly complexion? Rotting teeth? Good nutrition is the way to get back to good health. Engaging in healthy eating habits in sobriety is an essential part of the recovery process. First and foremost, great nutrition helps recovering addicts feel and look better because nutrients give the body healthy energy, helps in the building and repairing of vital organ tissue, and it strengthens the immune system.

Malnutrition and Its Effects

Ultimately addicts are in danger of malnutrition. Here are some of the symptoms.

  • Bloated abdomen
  • Bone loss
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney damage
  • Longer healing times for wounds
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle loss
  • Poor liver function
  • Problems with fertility
  • Stomach/digestive problems
  • Swollen or bleeding gums

Deeper Issues

However, the issue moves beyond the damage happening to your body. Like many topics related to addiction, the nutrition conversation is a psychological one as well as being physical. It is part of a holistic understanding of addiction and the road to recovery. Good nutrients help build your body’s tissue and keep your organs healthy. However, the right foods can boost your mood and influence your behavior.

Like all life and coping skills, proper nutrition in recovery allows those who are newly sober to feel better in both mind and body. Because the mind and body are receiving beneficial nutrients, it also helps minimize the chances of relapse since the body is in harmony with itself.

What should recovering addicts eat?

Refined carbohydrates
Processed foods

Antioxidant-rich foods
Healthy fats

When you are choosing a drug treatment facility, the one that you ultimately choose needs to feature a quality and well-rounded nutritional therapy program in addition to other essential services. First Steps Recovery offers all clients effective nutritional therapy programs that provide a perfect complement to traditional and other holistic therapy options. Experienced dietitians will help you create a balanced and healthy diet that will restore your physical health and help you feel energetic and confident. If you would like to know more about our nutritional therapy programs, call First Steps Recovery toll-free right now: 1-844-489-0836.

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