Foods Your Body Needs in Recovery
If you’re in recovery, it’s easy to justify a second cupcake by telling yourself at least it’s not heroin.
Or it’s easy to think that eating green vegetables isn’t important when you’re trying so hard to not have a drink of gin.
It’s understandable why many people turn to food to fill a void left by an abused substance. Putting harmful substances like drugs or alcohol in your body is obviously destructive, but neglecting to put healthy substances in our bodies is also destructive.
When we talk about recovery, we aren’t just talking about addiction to a substance—we are talking about the coping mechanisms and crutches in life that we turn to. If we replace a drug of choice with an unhealthy dependence on food, then we aren’t truly fixing the underlying emotional and psychological problems that led to the addiction in the first place.
Foods to Avoid in Recovery
Experts recommend that you avoid the following while in recovery:
- Fried food
- High sugar food
- Processed food with a lot of preservatives
- Food high in salt
As you can see, the list of foods to avoid is similar whether you are in recovery or not. But in recovery, it is extra important to be in tip-top shape. Foods that are high in sugar, salt, or unhealthy fat can make you feel tired, irritable, or fatigued. For the person in recovery, these negative emotions can be triggers that lead back to relapse and addiction.
View food as armor and a shield. A person in battle needs armor and a shield far more than a person who isn’t fighting. If you are in recovery, you are in a battle. Don’t you want as much protection as you can get? Healthy food can help you be stable, strong, and ready for whatever comes your way.
Nutrients Your Body May Be Lacking Due to Addiction
Depending on your drug of choice, substances might have depleted your supply of specific nutrients. Plus, many people who use substances spend their energy and money on getting a quick fix, instead of eating nutritious food. If you are in recovery, your body may be crying out for certain nutrients.
- B vitamins: important for nervous system, hormone production, and a healthy immune system.
- Vitamin A: helps to build cells and helps vision
- Fiber: aids digestion and regulates blood sugar
- Calcium: needed for healthy bones and teeth
- Vitamin E: helps repair cells
- Magnesium: supports heart
- Potassium: needed for circulation
Food to Eat in Recovery
To make sure your body is replenishing on vital nutrients, here is a list of some foods that you’ll want to eat more of if you’re in recovery:
- Leafy greens: They help repair cell damage and are a fantastic source of vitamins, folic acid, fiber, and carotenoids
- Protein: Lean protein is the best choice. Eat lots of chicken, fish, turkey, nuts, and beans.
- Whole-grain food: Substitute white rice with quinoa, potatoes with sweet potatoes, white bread with whole-wheat bread.
- Healthy fat: Get Omega fatty acids in your diet with avocado, eggs, fish, and healthy oils.
- Fluids: Drink lots of water hydrated.
Look at the above list as an opportunity to expand your diet and eat more delicious food! Healthy food can and should be fun. For more tips on what foods to eat in recovery and how to meal plan, check out Twin Lakes Recovery Center’s post about nutrition and recovery.
Change Your Mindset About Dieting
Like every part of recovery, the aim is to care for yourself. Don’t view cutting down on simple carbs as a rule you must follow all the time. Don’t shame yourself if you mess up every once in a while.
View eating healthy as a way to love yourself. You deserve to eat nutritious food that makes you feel good and gives you energy. Giving your body foods with vitamins and protein is a way to encourage you in recovery, not add to the list of dos and don’ts.
Remember, as you try and eat healthily, go easy on yourself. If you gave up heroin four months ago, maybe this isn’t the time to completely cut out sugar from your diet. You cannot change all of your unhealthy habits into healthy habits overnight. It’s best to prioritize what changes to make first.
If you struggle with addiction and need to prioritize getting sober right now, Victory can help. At Victory Addiction Recovery Center, our physicians and licensed counselors believe in a holistic approach to recovery—meaning that they treat the body as well as the mind. If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, Victory can help you build a foundation for wellness.
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