How to Create a Healthy Addiction Recovery Diet
- Kate Pindera
- 14 Sep 2021
Hippocrates, the Greek who founded Western medicine, famously said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”
The majority of evidence-based treatment plans for substance use disorders acknowledge the pivotal role of nutrition in speeding up the healing process of physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
In this blog, we’ll talk about how substance abuse can mess up your eating habits, the benefits of nutrition in rehab, and which superfoods to include in your addiction recovery diet.
How Substance Use Disorder Affects Nutrition
Addiction dramatically affects a person’s eating habits, which influences the kind of nutrition made available to the body. Most illicit substances suppress the appetite. So consumed by their drug or alcohol addiction, some people don’t bother looking for nutritious foods and make poor diet choices, often living off of junk or processed foods.
Following a diverse addiction recovery diet can gradually but significantly reverse and repair the damaging effects of substance abuse. Ideally, it’s best to consult with a doctor and work with a licensed nutritionist if you want to develop a sophisticated meal plan to address your unique dietary needs.
Aside from lifestyle and current state of health, health experts will consider the specific substance of abuse as each one causes a different type of nutritional deficiency.
Here are some examples.
- Alcohol Addiction – Alcohol abuse is linked to vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin A, vitamin B2, and folic acid. People struggling with alcoholism are often diagnosed with liver damage, digestive problems, and cognitive impairment.
- Opiate Addiction – Individuals who are addicted to heroin and morphine experience frequent constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders.
- Addiction to Stimulants – Cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs, make abusers go without sleep or any food for several days, resulting in severe malnutrition, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances.
- Marijuana or cannabis addiction – Unlike most substances that make you lose your appetite, marijuana comes with an after effect colloquially referred to as “the munchies,” which makes you intensely hungry and crave high-calorie foods loaded with fats and sugars that lead to weight gain.
5 Superfoods an Addiction Recovery Diet Should Have
Start making positive changes in your overall health by introducing these superfoods into your addiction recovery diet.
Salmon is an oily type of fish that is rich in protein. It is loaded with essential omega-3 fatty acids, which support cardiovascular health. It’s an abundant source of the amino acid tyrosine, a precursor in dopamine production.
Dopamine is the happy hormone linked with pleasurable sensations, concentration, alertness, learning, mood, and motivation. Individuals newly recovering from substance abuse disorder often have suboptimal levels of dopamine, leaving them lethargic, melancholy, and craving for substances. Their body’s natural production of dopamine may also be out of whack as a result of obtaining large quantities of dopamine from abusing drugs or alcohol for a long time.
Hence, incorporating salmon and other high-protein superfoods like poultry and nuts into your addiction recovery diet can help restore the body’s healthy dopamine levels gradually. Eat salmon fresh as sushi or sashimi. Whether baked, pan-seared, pan-fried, or grilled, salmon is delicious.
If you are a non-meat eater, tofu is a plant-based superfood packed with protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s also an unbelievably healthy source of valuable minerals and nutrients, including iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1.
Tofu is well-touted for its tremendous benefits in repairing liver damage, making it an invaluable part of any addiction recovery diet. A study published in the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology shows that soy-based food, such as tofu, may significantly help alleviate symptoms of fatty liver disease.
The beauty of tofu is that it’s very versatile and can be used in any recipe as a plant-based meat alternative. Make tofu scramble, vegan poke bowl, and stir-fry.
Beyond being an abundant source of fibre and antioxidants, bananas also have mood-enhancing benefits due to their tryptophan content, an essential ingredient in the formation of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a pivotal role in managing moods, emotions, appetite, and digestion. It’s also an essential precursor for melatonin, responsible for the body’s natural circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycles.
Bananas are perfect for anyone in an addiction recovery diet program. They’re high in fibre, so they make you feel full for longer. They’re sweet but won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar. Add them to smoothies, bake them into bread, or eat them as is.
People in recovery may have compromised gut health and gastrointestinal system. A study published in the journal PNAS discovered that alcohol addiction is associated with an imbalance in the gut flora. Researchers noted that 26 of 60 alcoholics suffered from leaky gut syndrome and a low count of beneficial intestinal bacteria, specifically Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
As a nutritional remedy, experts recommend including fermented foods that are high in probiotic content. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from salted, pickled vegetables like cabbage, radish, and carrots. It’s usually enjoyed as a banchan or side dish paired with steamed rice. Nevertheless, you can get creative, too, by eating it with eggs, turning it into fritters, or pasta sauce.
Other fermented foods rich in probiotic content include sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, and homemade yogurt.
5. Dark Green Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables, including kale, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli, are fantastic sources of antioxidants that help fight inflammation and oxidative stress from free radicals due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. These vegetables are also great for detoxification and improving overall liver health.
Sample Addiction Recovery Diet Plan
- Pre-workout: A smoothie with bananas, spinach, frozen strawberries and berries, almonds, Greek yogurt, and unsweetened almond milk.
- Post-workout: A slice of toast with cream cheese or peanut butter with a cup of coffee.
- A handful of almond nuts or an apple.
- A glass of water
- Grilled chicken sandwich with a side of fresh garden salad
- A glass of water with a squeeze of lemon
- Oatmeal cookies
- A glass of water or non-caffeinated tea
- Baked salmon with steamed rice (or quinoa) and vegetables
- Kimchi as a side dish
- A glass of sparkling water
Learn About the Addiction Recovery Diet That’s Right For You
At Freedom From Addiction, we recognize the importance of nutrition and healthy lifestyle changes in successful addiction recovery. Aside from top-notch addiction specialists, our highly qualified team includes nutrition experts and a world-class chef dedicated to developing a personalized addiction recovery diet for each patient.
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