Diet and nutrition play an important role when you’re recovering from an addiction. Substance abuse takes an enormous toll on the body, because your body has to work overtime trying to defend itself against the overload of toxins it’s receiving.
Once you’re in recovery, your body is then simultaneously going through withdrawals as well as having to repair and heal itself from the different toxins it absorbed during the active addiction.
Learning how to care for, nourish and even heal our bodies with the foods we eat isn’t something many of us learn growing up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn now.
Nutrition and substance abuse
Nutritional balance is always important, but it’s critically so when your body is detoxing and healing from substance abuse. Different addictions harm your body in different ways, and the negative effects of substance abuse will continue to work in your system until fully recovered.
Some of these effects include:
- Inhibiting your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, vitamins, minerals
- Negatively impacting the body’s organs’ health and digestive functionality
- Suppressing your appetite, therefore stressing your hormones
- Intensifying cravings for unhealthy foods, which results in vitamin deficiencies or can even go so far as to create additional illnesses
Most of us have a few unhealthy foods or sweets that we enjoy on an occasional basis, and that won’t have any severe impact on your body. But when you’re struggling with substance abuse, even when you’re in recovery, you might find yourself indulging significantly greater amounts of unhealthy foods and on a much more frequent basis which does, in fact, harm your body.
Importance of nutrition during recovery
Your body has gone through a lot after undergoing substance abuse. In addition, it’s going to be strained from the challenges that naturally come with recovering, so one of the greatest things you can do is to fuel it and its healing efforts through the foods you eat.
Here are five of the best foods to eat during recovery.
Salmon contains an amino acid known as tyrosine, which is vital to helping your brain to function properly. Even if you were actively eating tyrosine-full foods while struggling with substance abuse, drugs and alcohol prevent your body from being able to absorb and process it, making it essential to prioritize these foods during recovery.
In addition to being good for your brain health, tyrosine promotes mental clarity and organizational skills, greater motivation and a stronger overall sense of well-being and positivity.
Tofu is known for being an easily digestible, protein-packed food, which makes it an excellent go-to food during recovery. It’s especially beneficial for your healing because of its natural ability to assist in the recuperation of your liver.
Most types of protein will help your liver function, but unlike animal protein, tofu doesn’t have any fat that your liver would have to work extra hard to break down, making it an ideal protein for a liver that has been overtaxed.
Try to get organic tofu if available, because non-organic tofu is genetically modified, meaning it tends to be full of unhealthy faux-fillers, as well as often being bleached for aesthetic purposes.
3. Probiotic-rich foods
When your body undergoes substance abuse, the majority of its vitamins and minerals have been stripped, and these deficiencies leave it particularly vulnerable to illnesses and immune disorders. One of the most powerful foods that will simultaneously heal and fuel your body during its recovery are probiotic-rich foods.
Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and even kimchi (the spicy, Korean version of sauerkraut) are four of the most probiotic-dense foods that will help your body recover.
4. Whole grains
Whole grains and other fiber-rich foods will help heal and strengthen your digestive tract and contribute to the overall restoration of vitamins in your body, much like probiotics do.
Certain brands are misleading in their claims of being full of whole grains, though, so be sure to check the ingredient list. For instance, a brand advertising whole-grain waffles might seem like a great choice, but in reality, instead of truly being a whole-grain food, it’s mostly composed of filler ingredients like corn and white flour, and only the last ingredient is a whole grain.
Some of the best whole grains to look for are brown rice, barley, buckwheat, quinoa and oats.
5. Nutrient-dense vegetables
Vegetables are chock full of vitamins and minerals, and since they don’t consist of any fat, dairy, or meat, they’re one of the cleanest, most nutrient-dense options for helping your body recover.
Opt for vegetables that are darker in color, as lighter ones, such as iceberg lettuce, are composed primarily of water and have very little nutritional value. Some examples of these nutrient-dense vegetables are beets, carrots, spinach, broccoli and collard greens.
Reach out for additional support
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the concept of nutrition and you aren’t sure how to proceed from here, consider reaching out to our team here at Real Recovery.
While the journey to sobriety can be challenging, it isn’t one you have to travel alone, and having the assistance of a skilled, trustworthy counselor or clinician can make all the difference in the world for your recovery.