There’s no specific diet that’s best for alcoholics and addicts in recovery. But the optimal eating regimen for people trying to kick their alcohol and drug habits do share some common elements with many of the eating plans that perform well on U.S News’ annual Best Diets rankings. An optimal plan emphasizes protein from fish, poultry and lean meat, fresh vegetables and fruit, legumes and whole-grain breads and cereals.
Maintaining good eating habits helps people in early recovery stay away from drugs and alcohol. Here are five nutrition tips from experts:
1. Establish a healthy diet routine.
Women in early recovery to develop a foundation of good eating for alcohol and drug abuse cases haven’t been practicing good nutrition for sure. Addicts are focused on getting their next high. Most of them consuming alcohol excessively don’t feel hungry because they’re putting a lot of fluids in their body. They’re not thinking about what to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They need to build up their physical defenses, their whole foundation of health. The importance of healthy nutrition in recovery can’t be overstated. They should try to not only eat healthy foods, but to get in the habit of eating at regular times and make that a part of their daily routine.Women with alcohol and drugs abuse struggle with depression, particularly when they’re trying to stop drinking according to Clare Waismann, a certified addiction treatment counselor at the Waismann Institute, which runs an opioid treatment center in Anaheim Hills, California. A balanced healthy diet can help mitigate these mood swings, which helps protect their sobriety. Newly sober people should try to not only eat healthy foods, but to get in the habit of eating at regular times and make that part of their daily routine.
2. Avoid Sugar.
People trying to kick their alcoholism and drug addiction often battle another habit detrimental to their health: consuming too much sugar. The body converts alcohol to sugar, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. When alcoholics quit drinking, their blood sugar levels drop, and they develop sugar cravings. “Their bodies perceive they need more sugar, and they start looking for ways to spike their blood sugar levels. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is crucial for alcoholics and addicts in early recovery, because dramatic fluctuations could make people feel anxious or depressed and more likely to relapse. Many drug addicts also grapple with sugar cravings. Sugar has a similar effect on the brain’s levels of dopamine – a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers – as drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse causes a surge in dopamine levels, which activates feelings of pleasure. At New Directions for Women, a 30-bed addiction treatment center for women in Costa Mesa, California, the menu features lots of fresh vegetables, fish and whole grains – but no refined sugar, says Rebecca Flood, chief executive officer of the facility. “We don’t want sugar creating elevated levels of dopamine,” Flood says. “Sugar is like a drug.”
3. Be careful with caffeine.
People in early recovery should limit their caffeine intake to one cup of coffee daily. Caffeine again can spike sugar levels, she says. For people in early recovery, caffeine can be highly attractive, because they get a ‘hit’ but are still sober. There is a blood sugar crash on the other side of the caffeine. And when people in early recovery crash, they are susceptible to reaching for their drink or drug of choice.
4. Opt for easily digestible foods.
Drug addicts, particularly opioid abusers, often suffer from gastrointestinal distress, says Aimee Noel, clinical director at Sober College, a substance abuse rehabilitation facility for young adults with treatment centers in San Diego and Woodland Hills, California. Opioid abusers suffer from constipation, and when they stop using drugs, they may suffer from diarrhea and nausea. Easily digestible foods, such as oatmeal and rice and offerings high in fiber, like vegetables and fruits, are good for substance abusers who have gastrointestinal problems.
5. Get your vitamins and minerals.
Alcoholics are often malnourished because of their poor eating habits, which result in many excessive drinkers obtaining an unhealthy amount of their calories from alcoholic beverage. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fresh vegetables, including green leafy ones, avocados, nuts, fresh fish, poultry and lean meat can help people in recovery get the vitamins and minerals they need. Some people may also need vitamin and mineral supplements. The most common dietary deficiencies in alcoholics are vitamin B6, thiamine and folic acid. These vital nutrients aid in red blood-cell production and nutrient absorption. During detoxification, or the immediate period following alcohol withdrawal, a doctor should monitor these levels and decide if supplementation is necessary to preserve healthy bodily function.
Healing & Recovery from addiction is a life-long process.