One of the common aftereffects of living with a substance use disorder is being left with diminished health. Chronic use of a substance can leave you with nutritional deficiencies, causing you to feel depleted and weak. Because of this, restoring health and wellness in recovery will rely heavily on maintaining a nutritious diet. To learn more about the benefits of healthy eating in recovery, read on!
What’s the importance of diet in recovery?
We’ve all heard the maxim, “You are what you eat.” We understand that what we put into our bodies can have a significant impact on our energy, mental health, and general health. This is not just speculation, as there is a large body of research that supports the impact of diet on all aspects of health.
Consider these reasons why a healthy diet is important in recovery:
- Restores health: Adopting a healthy diet helps to repair the damage done to tissues and organs during active substance use, and as a result, this helps improve the immune system.
- Improves mental health: Consuming healthy foods helps improve the mind-body connection. Studies show that a nutritious diet influences the mood state, resulting in lower rates of depression and anxiety.
- Improves brain functioning: Nutritious food choices lead to improved brain health, which improves cognitive functioning and memory.
What are some tips for healthy eating in recovery?
When recovering from a substance use disorder, your food choices can directly impact the healing process. Examples of dietary choices that will benefit recovery include:
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These include fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, tuna and mackerel. Also, chia seeds, olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans, eggs, brussels sprouts, spinach and broccoli.
- Nuts and legumes. These include raw nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, as well as legumes like red beans and lentils.
- Whole grains. Whole grain foods include oats, brown rice, quinoa, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat bread and pasta, couscous and bulgur.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables. Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, carrots, cucumber, and fresh fruits, such as oranges, apples, grapefruit, kiwi, and berries.
- Dietary supplements may also play a role in improving health in recovery. Ask your doctor about folic acid, thiamine, amino acid supplements, vitamin B12 and B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C.
How can you establish healthy lifestyle habits in recovery?
When you set new healthy lifestyle goals in recovery, this can have a protective effect against relapse. Making a fitness plan helps you focus on achieving these goals, which distracts you from thoughts of substance use. So, not only are you slowly improving your health, but you are also protecting your recovery.
To optimize health in recovery, focus on these three areas:
- Diet: Refer to the list of food items above, and restrict as much as possible highly processed foods, refined sugars, seed oils and caffeine. Also, stay hydrated during the day by drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily.
- Exercise: Regular exercise is the best way to improve physical and mental health. Pick a couple of physical activities that you enjoy and will stick with. Set some realistic fitness goals and challenge yourself to achieve them.
- Sleep: Without adequate sleep, we cannot achieve optimal functioning. Prioritize getting quality sleep by keeping a regular sleep schedule. Be sure to avoid caffeine late in the day, and put the smartphone and laptop away an hour before bed.
The combination of a healthy diet, regular exercise and quality sleep will enhance your overall well-being in recovery, which ultimately offers protection against relapse. Embrace a whole new way of life, free of substances and full of vitality.