Recovery Takes Guts: Good Nutrition for Addiction Recovery
Addiction is a health crisis. Physical health, mental health, societal health—you name it, addiction harms it.
But what about nutritional health?
People experiencing addiction are less likely to engage in the self-care it takes to maintain a healthy diet. And while nutrition may seem relatively minor next to all of the other problems confronting people with addiction, poor nutrition can have serious health ramifications.
In addiction recovery, taking back your gut is an important step toward overall health.
Drugs and grub. Dietary and immune system deficiencies are only a few of the casualties of addiction. Each class of drugs has its own unique effects on your body both because of the substance itself and the unhealthy lifestyle that can come along with it. The end result is a body depleted of vitamins, electrolytes, and other key ingredients in helping your body to thrive.
Depending on the damage done to your system, you might need to make significant changes to the way that you eat in recovery just to reach physical equilibrium.
You are what you eat. Additionally, there are clear long term physical effects of poor nutrition in people with a history of substance abuse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Wellness Initiative, people who are suffering from mental and/or substance use disorders often die decades earlier than the general population due to preventable and treatable medical conditions.
With conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity as prime offenders, changing what you eat can make a huge impact. Addiction already takes a toll on quality of life; don’t let addiction take years off your life.
Your brain on food. Research in the new field of nutritional psychiatry shows that poor nutrition can have a significant impact on mood, as well, with foods like refined sugars and processed foods even leading to depression. With the prevalence of co-occurring disorders in the addiction recovery community, changing your diet to cut out low quality foods could put you in a better state of mind to keep your sobriety.
Where do I start? Learn how to incorporate good eating choices into the positive changes you are already making to your health. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and Choose My Plate are government initiatives that help you to make good choices in healthy eating for you and for your budget.
MedlinePlus also makes a number of additional suggestions specific to addiction recovery, including sticking to regular mealtimes, getting more vitamins and minerals (in your food intake and in dietary supplements), eating nutritious meals and snacks, and reducing caffeine intake.
Think of all you have already done to take back your health. Making these small changes to your diet will ensure you get the most from your recovery.
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