eating healthy in recovery from drugs

The Importance of Healthy Eating When Newly Sober

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

If you are newly sober, your number one focus is to maintain your recovery. You obviously recognize the importance of continuing your 12-step program and working with your sponsor and utilizing the life and coping skills you learned while in treatment. You also realize the importance of rebuilding your relationships with family, friends and other loved that were torn apart as the result of your substance abuse. Most importantly, you realize the devastating effects of substance abuse on your body and mind. To help you fully heal, it is important to eat healthy when you are newly sober.

Proper Nutrition in Early Recovery is Important for Long-Term Success

When you are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, the focus on proper nutrition in early sobriety can get lost in the shuffle. Oftentimes there is a belief among newly recovering addicts that indulging in junk food, sweets and other unhealthy foods in acceptable, especially when they have bigger beasts to slay in their recovery. While this attitude is completely understandable given the trials and tribulations they have endured, poor nutritional habits during early recovery hinders the recovery process. Additionally, not engaging in healthy eating habit when newly sober can contribute to relapse.

Years of addiction can take and extreme toll on one’s body. The following are examples of the negative impacts of addiction:

  • Drug and alcohol addiction disrupts the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine which help you feel good about yourself. Additionally, substances prevent your body from absorbing vital nutrients that naturally help maintain feelings of well-being.
  • Drug and alcohol addiction compromises your immune system. Chronic and severe malnutrition disrupts your body’s natural defenses. Having an immune system that isn’t functioning properly dramatically increases the risk for developing serious diseases such as breast, liver, lung, or colon cancer.
  • Drug and alcohol addiction is especially hard on the liver. The combination of chronic drug abuse and poor nutrition severely limits the liver’s ability to filter out the toxins that accumulate in one’s body when they are abusing substances. The combination of these factors will cause the liver to swell and increases the chances of the development of liver cancer.

When you think about it, recovering from substance abuse is about changing maladaptive patterns of behavior and developing a lifestyle that is healthy and balanced. The negative effects that substances have on the body may not be completely reversible, but learning healthy eating habits when newly sober will go a long way in building a body and mind that is stronger, healthier and happier.

The Benefits of Healthy Eating in Early Recovery


Engaging in healthy eating habits when newly sober 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. Proper nutrition habits in early recovery also plays an important role in the regulation and enhancement of mood. Making healthy dietary changes can alter brain chemistry and structure which influences behavior. By learning how to create a balanced and healthy eating regimen, crucial neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin can be restored to balance in the brain and it can help regulate and enhance mood.

Like utilizing life and coping skills, utilizing proper nutrition early 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. Additionally, proper nutrition in early recovery minimizes feelings of hunger. Oftentimes in early recovery, those newly sober can misinterpret hunger as a drug craving and fall face-first into relapse. This potentially disastrous mistake can be corrected by eating smart and eating balanced meals.

How Do I Start Eating Healthy If I Am New in Recovery?

If you are looking to learn ways to eat healthy while in early recovery, seeking professional help is highly recommended. An increasing number of drug and alcohol treatment facilities are incorporating nutritional therapy as a part of their treatment programming. Run by experienced nutritionists, they will be able to help you create a well-balanced diet with your unique body chemistry in mind. You can also contact a nutrition specialist at your local hospital or healthcare provider.

There are a few things that you can do right away to start eating healthy right away in your recovery. First, work to eliminate sugars and other processed foods from your diet and incorporate whole foods. Additionally, you want to increase the amount of protein in your meals and you also want to space out your meals throughout the day. Instead of eating three times a day, try and eat several smaller meals throughout the day and if you need to snack choose fruits, vegetables or nuts. Eating several smaller meals in a day will help you keep your energy levels more consistent.

Another way you can eat healthy during early recovery is to incorporate more anti-oxidant rich foods into your diet. Antioxidants play a huge role in boosting your immune system by protecting cells from free radical damage that can lead to cancer and other illnesses. Fruits and vegetables are rich with these vital nutrients, making them a good choice for rebuilding a strong immune system during your recovery.

Nutrition is Important To Your Recovery!

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 compliment 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.

Meet Our Team
Meet Our Team

From our certified therapists and nurses to our emotional support animal "Cooper", our entire team is dedicated to the health and success of our clients throughout our program and beyond.

Help Is Available. Speak With Someone Today.

Our admission team is available to help 24/7.
Skip to content