Importance of Nutritional Education During Addiction Recovery

Importance of Nutritional Education During Addiction Recovery

Addiction and then recovery is not at a fun thing to go through. People as young as 12 now require substance usage to treat different ailments and illnesses in the United States. As if this wasn’t sad  enough, the opioid epidemic that came around from the early 2000s has worsened over the years.

As much as eight different states out of three distinct regions of the US are reporting a 25% increase in Emergency Department visits. The reason for these visits? Opioid Overdoses. These are direct estimates from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The Process Works if You Do

There are sober living facilities in California as well as licensed treatment facilities in California that help people overcome their addiction. They are playing their part in treating people. But the real question is, are the people coming in for treatment playing their part?

One way that they can play an increased role in overcoming their addictions and remaining sober is to get proper nutrition while recovering from their addiction. Once they get involved with their diet and concentrate on getting proper nutrition, it will help them combat the unhealthy coping mechanisms that caused their addiction in the first place.

The Munchies

Many addicted individuals trying to let go of their past are just trying to get over the crisis that they are facing and getting used to the fact that they have to refrain from the addictive substances that they were consuming.

But this kind of behavior can lead to something worse: Binge Eating Disorders. This type of addiction may be a deeper addiction to get out of. There’s a saying that after consuming certain drugs, like marijuana, one gets the munchies. The munchies are cravings for food that a juvenile adult would usually crave, like candy, chips, juices, sodas, ice cream, jelly beans, peanut butter, Nutella and more.

Getting used to sobriety is difficult and the mind will start to amplify the existing nutrition-less behaviors. What would happen without proper nutrition is that the dopamine (feel good hormone) releases will start to happen with junk foods instead of drugs which could lead to a slew of different problems from diabetes to obesity to kidney problems, heart and cardiovascular diseases and more.

That would make matters worse for the individual trying to stay sober. That underlying cause for the addiction would still remain but the coping strategy would shift from narcotics, prescription medication, opiates, alcohol, tobacco and similar substances to unhealthy junk foods.

To prevent these unhealthy munching episodes from developing into full blown binge eating disorders, which are already a mental disease on their own, you need to fix the problem at the source. That’s where proper nutrition steps in.

What Does Proper Nutrition Have to Do for People Overcoming Addiction

Healthy diets are there for your mental and physical health. The saying, you are what you eat rings true in such a situation.

A diet like this emphasizes that you eat whole grains and fiber that helps you feel full and fruit, vegetables, meat and nuts, to help you regain that vitality (minerals, vitamins and other healthy elements) that will help you become mentally and physically better able to cope with addictions and stay sober more consistently.

You’ll get the number of calories you need without the guilt of over-consuming your share of foods.

Physical Health

Your physical health can be benefitted to a great degree when you have a nutritional diet that is fulfilling for your body. A study done in 2013 examined the effects of Mediterranean diets on one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. The Mediterranean diets with extra virgin olive oil or nuts actually reduced the effects of cardiovascular diseases to a great extent.

Mediterranean diets have also been known for improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation in the body, and regulate blood pressure levels better. Fruits and vegetables in your diet, especially when you are overcoming addiction, will allow you to have greater cancer protection and support your immune systems. Some foods are also known to reverse the onset of certain kinds of cancer like prostate cancer.

When you eat a balanced diet with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, doing healthy snacking at regular intervals, it gives you greater energy to carry on with your daily activities. It can also help you overcome sleep disorders that come about with addiction and help you maintain a healthy weight as well.

Mental Health

With a healthy diet, your thoughts can also improve, believe it or not. If you take the right nutritional meals, you will stop when you are full and your blood sugar and energy levels will be regulated.

This obviously has physical benefits, but it has benefits for your mood as well. It can help you think more clearly and break free of a cluttered mind.

Protein rich foods like low fat yogurt and lean meats can help you control blood sugar and foods rich in fiber like oatmeal and lentils can also help you with regulating blood sugar.

A study in 2015 showed that when you allowed gut bacteria levels to improve, it significantly improved your behavior, brain development and kept the occurrence of mental disorders and problems like anxiety, major depressive disorders and more, in check.

Again, fruits like berries and cruciferous vegetables and some healthy drinks like kefir and miso soup will do the trick here. This is especially beneficial if you’re trying to recover from substance addictions and alcohol abuse.

Social Health

When you are eating a nutritious diet, you will feel better physically and emotionally. You’ll be able to enjoy interacting with people and participate more in social scenarios and activities. People who eat healthier, when in holistic drug rehab, will generally be more friendly and approachable than those not eating very healthily.

Coffee and alcohol can really make one anxious in social situations so cutting out the use of these potential triggering substances, will help you interact better with people. Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated will also help you with social interactions as will the use of herbal tea.

Participate in Your Recovery Process: Get Involved

What better way to get involved than to get proactively involved with your addiction recovery.

Cooking your own food can be a great therapeutic endeavor for someone suffering from substance addiction. IT can give you some of the life skills that are part and parcel of cooking. Cooking classes can help you if you are participating in them and getting involved with the process of recovering from your past.

Here are the benefits you will get from participating in cooking classes with people like yourself.

Better Diet Habits

When you participate, you get to learn about new foods and how they are healthy. You become more conscious about what you eat and how it fulfills your appetite. Nutrition is necessary for health and overall wellbeing, mental and physical.

Feeling Independent

No longer do you feel the need to go to fast food outlets to get your food, and not know what you are eating. You will have that feeling of being in control of what you’re putting inside your body. With this new knowledge you’ll start to learn about what you are eating and be motivated and independent in other areas of your life other than food.

Exhibiting Greater Confidence

When you join cooking groups with a mindset of getting new skills, and adopting healthier habits, the experiences you make there will allow you to feel more confident in your abilities. You’ll be interacting with more people, boosting your communication skills, as well as learning how different ingredients are used to make a nutritious meal.

Adopting healthier habits will give you a confidence boost that you can use for other areas of your life. You’ll like the way you look and feel, contributing to your confidence.

Practicing Grit and Relief from Stress

Addictions are difficult to overcome, granted. But when you are learning to cook as a coping strategy for your addiction, you’ll be letting go of that pent-up tension through cooking, instead of self-harm through alcohol and substance abuse.

And you will be able to build a greater level of work ethic and grit because sticking to cooking recipes requires work for greater periods of time. It’s going to be complex and that’s where your new-found grit will help you out.

Recovery Process

In addictions, you lose out on a lot of life skills that others have developed before you. But that’s what’s so beautiful about it, it’s not late to develop those skills. You may have not had great communication with your family and friends but cooking in groups can help you better your communication skills.

The work ethic and grit that you lost as a result of your addiction can be regained alongside your health. Cooking groups are great sources of knowledge and are far greater than just about learning to cook great food. They’re really about regaining what you lost during your addiction: a purpose. That’s the reason it helps you become sober and stay sober.