Nutrition In Drug & Alcohol Treatment

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Believe it or not, when it comes to treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse, it’s important to incorporate nutritional counseling and guidance. Often, those who are suffering from addiction have difficulty focusing on caring for themselves because substance use takes over their lives.

Often, people who abuse alcohol or drugs spend more time thinking about their next opportunity to use these substances. The area of self-care often goes lacking because substance use consumes the mind of those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

When this happens, people who are dealing with addiction may stop eating enough or may not eat healthy foods anymore. They may not engage in exercise and might begin to experience unhealthy sleeping patterns. 

Physical health usually suffers at the hands of addiction. Thankfully, however, professional addiction rehabilitation programs like ours here at Northbound Treatment Services can help people to become healthy, emotionally, mentally, and physically!

The Negative Effects of Harmful Diets

Many people do not realize just how negatively a harmful and unhealthy diet can affect the human body. Not only do unhealthy eating habits cause physical health problems, but they can also negatively impact one’s mental and emotional state. 

Food has the ability to change your mood and feelings. It has the ability to affect your body and overall health. No doubt, you have heard how certain “junk” foods can cause unhealthy weight gain, cholesterol problems, and blood pressure issues. 

Unhealthy foods can create more problems than many people realize. And, if you are recovering from substance abuse, your diet can make the process either better or worse. Eating unhealthy food items can have many negative effects.

Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health, Addiction, and Poor Nutrition

Some individuals who are suffering from substance abuse also have mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These mental health disorders affect the brain and have an impact on peoples’ emotions and cognitive processes.

The foods a person eats can have an impact on the way his or her brain operates. So, if a person who has co-occurring disorders consumes unhealthy food and practices poor nutrition, it’s likely that the effects of his or her diet will be negative. These foods will likely have an unpleasant effect on the individual’s brain, making the recovery process even more difficult.

Unhealthy Foods and Emotional Health

Just as some foods can boost energy levels, some food items can cause a lack of energy. This can lead to feelings of fatigue and an overall lack of motivation. It may even result in an increase in symptoms of depression.

Sometimes, individuals who engage in unhealthy and poor eating habits feel guilty or ashamed because of their food choices. This can result in emotional relapse and, eventually, a physical addiction relapse. 

How Healthy Eating Helps in Recovery

Nutrition definitely plays a big role in recovery. Eating well combined with regular exercise encourages physical health and can help to make the recovery process much more enjoyable. While a person is suffering from addiction, it’s hard for him or her to focus on personal care and self-maintenance. This often results in a completely unhealthy body that is prone to illness, sleep deprivation, malnutrition, and many more health problems. 

This is why it’s so important for individuals to develop healthy habits during their time in addiction rehabilitation. Substance abuse rehab programs should be equipped with the tools and resources that help people to cultivate these habits. Nutrition information and education can definitely help in this area.

Eating well can help to rebuild cognitive abilities, facilitate muscle strengthening, and improve brain functionality. All of these things are often negatively affected by continuous substance abuse. Excessive drinking and drug use can cause issues with these areas of a person’s life, so, eating healthy and helpful foods can reverse those problems!

Recovery is about rebuilding the parts of life that have been torn down by addiction. This includes eating habits.

Foods to Eat and Avoid While Recovering From Addiction

Healthy eating is important for people in every stage of life. It’s important for everyone to make healthy food choices. But, for those who are in recovery and working to end substance abuse, nutritional guidance and counseling can be critical to creating a successful recovery journey.

If you are in rehab for addiction or you’re trying to learn more about how to best care for yourself after treatment is over, it may be helpful to have a deeper understanding of the foods that can be helpful or hurtful.

Of course, foods that are best for some people may not be the best options for you, depending on your own health needs. It’s important to keep in mind any food allergies or preferences you may have. You can speak to a clinical professional in your life to discuss the right meal plans and food choices for you. 

Although the following lists aren’t “rules” or strict lists that you have to live by, they are suggestions and ideas that you can use in order to become healthier and take better care of yourself, physically speaking.

Eat These Foods

Some of the food items that may prove to be helpful for you as you work to take good care of your body throughout your recovery inculde the following:

Salmon: High in nutrients, contains omega-3, protein, and Vitamin D

Carrots: Contain Vitamin K, fiber, and antioxidants

Almonds: Contains Vitamin E, antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium

Chicken breast: Source of protein, low in fat

Apples: Contain Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants

Bananas: Source of fiber, Vitamin B6, and potassium

Oranges: Contain Vitamin C and fiber

Legumes: Beans such as kidney beans and lentils contain fiber and a variety of vitamins

Oats: High in fiber

Kale: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and fiber

Not These Foods

In most cases, it’s best to stay away from extremely sugary foods. It is also best to cut back on food items that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats. Also, caffeine can cause sleep problems and, for some people, can increase nervousness or anxiety. For some individuals, it can even cause an increase in symptoms of depression. So, it may be best to cut back on caffeinated beverages.

Finally, since you are in recovery, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol in order to avoid relapse.

Explaining the Healthy Foods List

Most likely, you noticed that many of the food items on the list of healthy foods contain fiber, antioxidants, and various vitamins. But, perhaps you’re unsure of why these ingredients are important and how they can help you. Here is a little more information about these components.

Fiber can help regulate digestion and maintain regularity in bowel movement. These are some bodily processes that often suffer because of substance abuse. So, incorporating more fiber in your diet will help to improve these processes. Fiber can also help to stabilize sugar levels.

Vitamins are helpful for a number of reasons. For example, Vitamin C can help to improve dental and gum health. It can also aid in bodily tissue health and in the wound healing process.

Vitamin K is thought to help maintain healthy bones and it also helps to keep the blood healthy. Tocopherol (Vitamin E) helps the body to develop red blood cells. Vitamin B6 also helps in the forming of red blood cells. In addition to this, B6 helps with brain functionality.

In many cases, you can get these vitamins and fiber from the foods you eat. There are some vitamins that might be difficult to get from your meals, such as Vitamin D, which is usually produced as a result of exposure to sunlight. (Outdoor activities and exercise can help you to get the amount of Vitamin D that you need!)

Learn More About How Northbound Treatment Services Can Help

If you are dealing with substance abuse and need help breaking free from the bondage of addiction, there is no need to continue fighting alone. Here at Northbound Treatment Services, we are dedicated to helping each of our clients find freedom from addiction. Our mission is to make the recovery journey comfortable and successful for those who come to us for help.

We understand that recovery is not just about ending alcohol or drug use. It’s also about establishing a healthy lifestyle. Recovery is the process of developing healthy and positive habits.

Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) are helpful in establishing positive thought processes and encouraging mental health. Group therapy can help people to build support systems and develop lasting friendships with people who understand the challenges of recovery. This helps in the area of social health. 

Physical health is also important and treatment should also focus on improving peoples’ physical conditions. Through exercise therapy and holistic approaches such as yoga, individuals can become more physically involved in their recovery. 

Nutritional counseling can also help people to become more physically healthy throughout their recovery journey. By eating well and taking care of your body, you will find that your emotional and mental health will also improve!

Here at Northbound Treatment Services, we offer treatment and therapy that can help each of our clients to both become and remain free from addiction. To learn more about how we can help you find your way to a healthier and addiction-free life, just contact us today by calling (866) 511-2458!


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