The path to good health starts with a balanced diet. This is something we’ve all become familiar with since learning about the food pyramid in our school days. Yet when people think of the steps towards recovery, the prospect of maintaining a balanced diet is the furthest thing from their minds. The reality is that a proper diet can help those on the road to recovery stay focused on achieving their goals.
It may come as no surprise that those struggling with addiction tend to have very poor diets. During their battle with substance abuse, an addicted person will often neglect their nutrition, a stable eating schedule, and healthy food becoming less important than fueling their addiction. Addicts will often fall into the habit of failing to eat, eating cheap foods lacking nutrients, or binge eating after coming down from a high. Weight gain or extreme weight loss is often the side effects of such poorly managed diets along with:
- Cognitive impairment
- Muscle degeneration
- Heart rate inconsistencies
- Weakened immune system
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Electrolyte imbalances
While these side effects can seem overwhelming to manage, they stress the importance of regulating the body’s nutrition.
As we’ve outlined, it’s important for a person combating addiction to strengthen their malnourished body by reintroducing a healthy diet. But the question becomes, where to start? Those who have been abusing alcohol may find that their bodies have become deprived of important vitamins, particularly thiamine which helps with brain, heart, liver, and kidney function. Adding vitamin-rich foods such as dairy products, fruits, peanuts, and plenty of vegetables can help your body function normally.
Opioids can slow down the body’s functions and make people feel sluggish due to a lack of energy. This drug also slows digestion and metabolism, which has the side effect of chronic constipation. A healthy amount of carbohydrates from foods such as whole grains, potatoes, nuts, and beans can help to regulate the blood sugar levels and ease foggy, sluggish feelings. In addition to getting energy from carbs, taking a healthy amount of fiber can help improve digestion. Fiber not only regulates blood sugar and lowers cholesterol, it can also help food move through the digestive system. Oats, nuts, beans, and brown rice are a few examples of foods rich in fiber that can help regulate your digestion.
Those who have been struggling with stimulants such as cocaine, methamphetamines, and crystal meth, are prone to dramatic weight loss. Not only is it likely that they will go for days without eating or sleeping, but those taking stimulants are likely to develop eating disorders such as anorexia. Adding protein and healthy fat to an unbalanced diet can help increase hormones and boost mood. Chicken, eggs, beans, and nuts are great sources of protein while healthy fat can be found in fish, dairy, seeds, and nuts.
Staying hydrated is also key to good health as water protects internal body parts, lubricates joints, and aids the body in putting all those vitamins to use. Dehydration can cause irritability, dizziness, and even fever, so if you’re not a person eager to drink glass after glass of water, you can get hydrated through watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, or low-sugar sports drinks.
The type of food you eat plays an important role in how your body functions as well as your mental state. When breaking from the grips of addiction, keeping your body nourished while withdrawing can go a long way toward maintaining your overall health. Remember to stay hydrated, take vitamins, and maintain a balanced eating schedule with nutrient-rich foods.