What’s the link between nutrition and recovery?
Surprisingly, it’s significant. The food we consume powers our organs, giving each individual cell the ability to do its job. A lack of nutrition causes these cells to be sluggish and to break down over time. They can’t do their job, and we feel it as a result. During recovery, it’s quite common for nutrition to play a significant role in not only your success but also in the way you feel throughout the process.
Understanding this link may help you to give your body more of the tools it needs to flourish through recovery and for the rest of your life.
Why Nutrition Matters: Your Body Isn’t Getting It
During the recovery process from drugs and alcohol, proper nutrition plays an essential role in your overall well-being and, potentially, in how well you can stay on the path. A healthy diet can contribute to your recovery efforts in a number of ways.
An addicted body struggles with malnourishment. Many times, this is simply because those who are seeking out drugs and alcohol are much less likely to eat well. Some choose to use funds to purchase drugs rather than food. And, a person suffering from mental illness as well as a psychological dependency on substances isn’t thinking about eating a healthy diet.
Secondly, the addiction itself does damage to your body. MedlinePlus reports that alcohol damages organs such as the liver and heart and can leave a person facing significant malnutrition. Opiates commonly cause vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, allowing a person to lose any nutrients they do take in. Marijuana, on the other hand, encourages binge eating, often leading to an unhealthy diet that leaves individuals overweight.
How Does Poor Nutrition Happen?
There are many ways poor nutrition occurs in those with addiction. These include:
- Not eating enough because of cravings for the abused substance.
- Some drugs, such as marijuana, often create cravings for sweets and refined sugars, leading to fast weight gain.
- Vomiting and nausea occur, causing a loss of nutrients.
- Foods eaten tend to be empty-nutrient foods, such as fast foods.
These poor eating habits can lead to rapid and unexplained weight loss or gain.
What Does Your Body Need During Recovery?
Anyone facing the path towards recovery needs to find ways to support their body’s unique needs during this time. In detox and beyond, the body is facing an incredible changing storm. It must battle the cravings and the dependency while also working to heal. Proper nutrition is a crucial component of this healing. An addicted body loses a variety of nutrients, including:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B6
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin K
Individuals who have nutritional deficiencies often struggle with wounds that are slow to heal. They have trouble gaining weight through muscle mass building, and they struggle with liver and kidney complications. Some have immune system deficiencies. Others face insomnia and anxiety. Each of these additional symptoms and side effects of addiction can be helped, to some level, with improved diet.
One option often presented to individuals struggling with weight loss is the use of supplements. Individuals need a high-quality multivitamin with mineral supplementation. Often, it is best to leave this specific formulation to a doctor or a treatment center. However, supplements only offer some support.
A diet that has improved amounts of nutrient-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, healthy grains, and low-fat meats is a good place to start. It’s important that those on the path towards recovery work closely with their treatment team to ensure they are receiving the very best customization in meal planning and dietary needs.
Tips for Managing Nutritional Loss and the Recovery Process
Working with a treatment center that offers nutritional support is important. There, individuals get customized support and meals balanced to meet their body’s needs during the recovery process. At home, individuals can consider these tips:
- Eat nutrient-rich foods more often and empty-calorie foods, like those with significant sugar, less often.
- Eat whole foods more often and processed foods less often.
- A balanced diet rich in lean protein, fiber, and healthy fats can help to encourage healing and muscle-building in the body.
- Reduce caffeine consumption overall. It can worsen symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety.
- Talk about food addictions, which can develop as a result of binge eating during addictions.
- Detox is especially worrisome because of the significant depletion of nutrients. Work closely with medical professionals to restore health during and immediately after detox.
The key here is to recognize the importance of nutrition during recovery. Every person’s needs are unique but finding support is possible.
Treatment Recovery Programs Offer Support Along the Way
There is help available for those who are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. And, when you work with the team at Ranch at Dove Tree, you gain insight into whole-body health, including the important role that nutrition plays. Our treatment centers offer nutritional meal plans and guidance to help you on this journey. It starts with a strong detox recovery program and spans the rest of your stay with us.
Drug Use and Your Health. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Health Consequences of Drug Misuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Research Review of Health Promotion Programs for People with Serious Mental Illness. SAMHSA.