Tips for Gaining Weight in Healthy Ways if You’re Recovering From an Addiction or Other Condition

Tips for Gaining Weight in Healthy Ways if You’re Recovering From an Addiction or Other Condition

Diseases, disorders, addictions, and countless other health conditions can cause significant and drastic weight loss in individuals, often unintentionally. If you are currently in recovery from a substance use disorder you may be looking to gain weight in a healthy way. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

The Link Between Addiction and Nutrition

The link between addiction and nutrition is serious, and can ultimately mean the difference between living a full and healthy life or struggling with chronic issues, disorders, and malnutrition for years to come. Individuals who develop serious and life-threatening substance use disorders (SUDs) may be less motivated to eat properly — or cannot afford to — and ensure that they are consuming nutritious foods each day.

One of the most common links between addiction and nutrition is the depletion and the overall malfunctioning of neurotransmitters, or chemicals in the brain responsible for transmitting, receiving, and remembering information. Other nutrition risks that come along with serious and severe addictions include:

Without seeking proper care from drug and alcohol rehab facilities, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy weight and nutritional intake each day. One focus of a rehabilitation center should be to help the client work toward sobriety while restoring their health through proper nutrition. 

The Dangers of Malnutrition and Extreme Weight Loss

Extreme weight loss can lead to long-term adverse effects on the mind and body. Paired with life-threatening addiction, it can lead to an increased potential of overdose, seizures, coma, or death. When an individual does not consume the proper level of nutrients over an extended period of time, the body may begin to break down in various areas, depending on what nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are lacking.

By not providing your body with the proper nutrition it needs to sustain itself and to thrive, you run the risk of developing the following issues:

Why Does Addiction Cause Malnutrition and Weight Loss?

In some cases, addiction may lead to weight gain, especially when an addiction involves substances that increase overall appetites. However, other substances such as opioids, alcohol, as well as some prescription medications, may work to suppress appetites. The individual becomes consumed with the substance they are using, and the result is they are less likely to take note of their overall daily nutritional needs.

Additionally, as an individual becomes increasingly dependent on a substance, they are much more likely to avoid eating foods or drinking beverages to hold onto their high, or to achieve a stronger high. (Basically, think of how a person will feel the effects of a glass of wine more intensely on an empty stomach.). Those who struggle with addictions to opioids as well as prescription medications are much more likely to struggle with extreme weight loss due to a loss of appetite.

Tips for Gaining Weight in Healthy Ways During Recovery

Facing and overcoming your substance or alcohol use disorder does not have to feel daunting or impossible. It’s not exactly an easy thing to overcome, but with the proper treatment, a solid support system, and a thorough understanding of the nutrients that your body requires, it can be managed. Knowing how to implement a healthy diet into your recovery plan is a way for you to optimize your overall health, focus, and motivation as you work towards a life of sobriety.

The Importance of Journaling Your Experience

During the recovery process, you may be required to keep a journal to monitor your overall physical, emotional, and mental states. Keeping a diary is a great way to note both accomplishments and things that may still need some work. A food log is also a great way to keep track of your nutritional progress and to learn more about your daily intake, as well as affects you may be feeling as a result of your choices. Track your food intake as well as vitamins and minerals that you are taking or consuming each day. Document your moods and emotions at the beginning and end of each day to find a diet that works best for you as you work through your recovery program.

Get Educated

Spend time researching the basics and fundamentals of nutrition and how vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients affect your body. Learn about caloric values and how fat, protein, and carbohydrates help your body and brain. The more educated and informed you are about nutrition, the easier it will be to choose foods that are suitable for strength, energy, mood, and health while you work towards gaining weight in a healthy and thoughtful manner.

Eat Regularly

Even if you do not find that you have an appetite upon waking up each day, it is important to eat regularly, even if you do so with small meals or snacks to start. Eating regular meals and healthy snacks between meals can help your body’s metabolism to work properly. Some healthy snacks to keep in mind while you are working towards gaining weight healthily may include:

Associate Eating With Positive Emotions and Feelings

For anyone who is struggling to gain weight, it is important to associate the act and process of eating with positive emotions and feelings for optimal results. When you view food as nutritional and beneficial to your body and to your body’s overall recovery process, you are much more likely to remain motivated and focused on reaching your goals. If you are looking for a way to feel more positively about eating healthier and putting on weight, educate yourself about the importance of nutrition and how you can extend your lifespan by simply watching what you eat and ensuring you eat enough.

Share Your Progress

As you begin to learn more about the benefits of good nutrition and make progress in your recovery, share your journey with your current support system or even those who are with you during your treatment program. Sharing the strides you have made toward your own good health and receiving positive affirmations can help you to stay focused and optimistic about attaining your goals and gaining weight at a healthy pace.

When you better learn the links between substance use disorders and malnutrition, it can become much easier to understand why you may have struggled to put on weight or to maintain a healthy weight in the past. Even though you may be in the process of recovery, it is possible to begin taking the appropriate and necessary steps to provide your body with the nutrition it craves and needs. 

Sources – Substance Abuse and Nutrition – Substance use recover and diet – Nutrition During Recovery – The importance of nutrition in aiding recovery from substance use disorders – Nutrition in Addiction Recovery – Problems caused by being underweight