Eating a healthy diet helps with addiction recovery by allowing the mind and body to work better and heal faster. It helps maintain recovery by supporting the mind and the body to function, therefore, maintaining a healthy diet is important during addiction recovery.
Eating healthy helps with addiction recovery in many ways such as steadying the mood, improving focus, increasing one’s energy, and better resisting cravings for addictive substances. Deficiencies in nutrients can make addiction recovery more difficult by making one more vulnerable to depression, distraction, fatigue, and substance cravings.
Substance use disorder can make one more vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies for behavioural and biological reasons. However, eating healthy can help with maintain a healthy balance of nutrients and improve one’s odds of successfully recovering and maintaining it long term.
What Does it Mean to Eat Healthy?
The mind and the body use nutrients and energy all the time, so healthy eating requires a number of nutrients and energy from foods that we eat every day. Eating healthy essentially means getting the right nutrients one needs to function well, but not in an excessive way that could harm someone’s body. Eating healthy also means getting enough calories that are needed to perform healthy physical activity and maintain a healthy body weight, but not so much that it would cause a gain on unhealthy amount of body fat.
There are two main categories of nutrients, macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. Macro-nutrients are basic building blocks and energy sources for the body. They ought to be consumed in large amounts. Micro-nutrients have a special function in the body, one needs them in small amounts.
Micro-nutrients – there are three kinds of macro-nutrients, protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Protein is used for building and repairing the cells in the body. It is important for muscle and connective tissue, but important for producing hormones and neurotransmitters. Proteins are composed of amino acids.
Fat is a proffered energy source, but important for the nervous system, building cell membranes, and producing hormones. There are some fats that the body needs, but unable to produce, there are known as essential fatty acids.
Carbohydrates are an optional energy source. Appropriate carbohydrate intake depends on one’s physical activity levels and genetics. Excessive carbohydrate intake can disrupt one’s metabolism and cause a gain on unhealthy body fat, which could lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Certain macro-nutrients can harm someone and make the recovery even harder.
Carbohydrates: sugars – too much sugars can cause one to have unstable energy levels and lower willpower.
Fat: ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 – high ratio of omega-6 compared to omega-3 can increase systemic inflammation, which contributes to chronic conditions such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease.
Protein – some drugs can cause damage to the kidney. If one has kidney problems, there is evidence that excessive consumption of protein can make it worse.
Micro-nutrients – there are two main groups of micro-nutrients vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are organic molecules and minerals are chemical elements. Each vitamin and mineral have a special role in the body and are required in small amounts for the body to function well. Our bodies cannot produce vitamins and minerals.
Substance Use Disorders and Eating Healthy
Addictive substances can make healthy habits hard in many ways. They can also reduce the chances for an individual to get enough nutrients despite a healthy diet. Addictive substances can interfere with eating healthy and cause nutrient deficiencies by:
Reducing one’s appetite – when the appetite is reduced, it means consuming less food and might lead to not consuming enough nutrients for the body to function properly.
Increasing cravings for unhealthy foods – when one craves and eats lots of unhealthy foods, it can be hard to get all the nutrients that the body needs to function properly.
Reducing nutrients in the body – some addictive substances can cause the body to use up nutrients in much larger quantities than normal or even destroy them. When this happens, the body is not getting enough nutrients in order to function.
Reduces the motivation to eat healthy – staying motivated to eat healthy requires a belief that eating healthy will produce a positive outcome. It requires confidence that it will be successful and positive for the body. Addiction can make this hard.
Addiction Recovery and Healthy Eating
There are many factors that are important for addiction recovery and maintaining it. These factors are positively affected by eating healthy and negatively affected by nutrient deficiencies.
Mood and confidence – a positive outlook and confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges makes it easier to accomplish hard tasks. Healthy eating can help maintain a stable and positive mood. On the other hand, nutrient deficiencies can make one more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
Focus and awareness – healthy eating can improve one’s ability to focus and maintain awareness. On the other hand, nutrient deficiencies can make more vulnerable distractions.
Motivation – healthy eating can help maintain high levels of motivation. On the other hand, nutrient deficiencies can cause one to experience more ups and downs that jeopardize one’s success.
Ability to resist – eating healthy can make one’s cravings for addictive substances and behaviours less intense. It can make one’s will power stronger to resistant drugs. On the other hand, nutrient deficiencies can make one’s cravings more intense and weaken one’s will power.
Eating healthy is challenging for anyone and to succeed one needs a clear plan for how to start.
Here are some pointers on how to start a healthy diet:
Eat whole, fresh, and unprocessed foods
Avoid fast foods
Avoid refined sugars
Consume unrefined and unprocessed sugars
Eat a variety of foods
Eat meat that is grass-fed, organic, and naturally raised
Eat fish that is wild-caught or organic
Use grass-fed butter
Eat more vegetables with every meal
Eat dark and leafy greens
Eat raw vegetables
Avoid processed vegetable oils
Consume nuts and seeds
Each individual has different nutritional needs for many reasons. A nutritionist can help anyone design a personalized plan that meets their own needs and develop a deeper understanding of unique nutritional requirements.
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