I’m thrilled to share a blog post from Cassidy Webb. Cassidy has recovered from addictions to drugs and alcohol and has struggled with depression for many years. Now Cassidy is enjoying a new life in recovery and is passionate to spread awareness around the disease of addiction. Cassidy writes for health website: http://healthcommkey.org/. Here Cassidy talks about the importance of nutrition in early recovery.
If you are anything like I was when I first got sober, you’re craving sugar, carbs, and more sugar. No wonder – for those of us who suffer from addiction, many of us placed our drugs or alcohol as a top priority above our health. In early recovery, your brain is starting to adapt to life without the use of mood and mind-altering substances. Many people experience a shortage of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin when they get sober, and sugar does a pretty good job at acting as a quick fix. However, if you get into the habit of eating sugary, processed foods in early recovery, you are prone to weight gain and other health problems down the line.
Part of getting sober is beginning to appropriately care for your mind and body, and this includes eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
How Addiction Disrupts Nutrition
Many people who suffer from addiction will neglect their health by ignoring their dietary needs. Rather than seeing food as fuel, they rely on their drug of choice to make them feel good. This can lead to severe malnutrition and the development of serious health conditions.
Alcohol abuse, for example, can lead to high caloric intake. The problem with this is that the calories consumed through alcohol hold no nutritional value as they don’t provide the macronutrients or micronutrients that the body needs to thrive. This can cause gastrointestinal problems as well as an increased chance of developing heart disease and various forms of cancer.
Opioid abuse, on the other hand, can lead to a slowed digestive system and frequent constipation. In addition, opioid withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can lead to a lack of nutrients and imbalance of electrolytes.
Aside from physical health problems due to the lack of a nutritious diet, an addict’s mental health will suffer as well. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions experienced by those who suffer from addiction. Symptoms of depression may rear their ugly head in early sobriety when the drugs are removed. However, eating a nutritious diet can help mitigate many symptoms of depression.
Benefits of a Healthy Diet in Sobriety
While counseling and therapy are important during early recovery, it is equally important to learn about how living a healthy lifestyle can benefit sobriety. It can be difficult for a malnourished brain to learn and comprehend new information, so nutrition should come first.
A nutritious diet in early recovery can help individuals meet a variety of goals:
- Ease withdrawal symptoms
- Heal and nourish the body after substance abuse
- Help stabilise mood and regulate stress
- Reduce cravings for drugs or alcohol
- Encourage self-care and healthy lifestyle habits
- Avoid weight gain that is so common for recovering addicts and alcoholics
Continuing to eat a nutritious diet will carry benefits from early sobriety to long term recovery. Eating an excess of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates causes blood sugar to jump between highs and lows, which may give you an immediate energy boost but will be followed by fatigue and irritability. When this happens, you will be more prone to experiencing mood swings.
People in recovery who understand how to effectively manage and stabilize their moods are less susceptible to relapse than those who do not. Try thinking of food as fuel that allows your body to function and your moods to stabilize. This will help you make more educated decisions regarding the foods you put into your body.
Some foods that will boost your mood include:
- Low-fat Greek yogurt
- Egg yolks
- Lean beef
- Brussels sprouts
The protein, fibre, and vitamins contained in these foods will help slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, increase serotonin, and decrease mood swings. These foods are good for both mental and physical health.
A Recipe for Maintaining Sobriety
Figuring out which foods have a positive effect on your mood will help you become more aware of your body and mental health. It will become something you can easily manage while living your new life in sobriety.
Remember – life is all about balance, so don’t feel bad if you treat yourself to a little ice cream every now and again. Without abusing substances and putting toxic chemicals in your body, this is an opportunity to treat your body and brain with love and care – and that means eating foods that will boost your mood and help you manage symptoms of mental health in sobriety.
Cassidy is an avid writer who works with JourneyPure to help spread awareness around the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is helping other addicts and alcoholics recover by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.