The Importance of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

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Have you ever seen a healthy looking addict?

The majority of addicts who come to our treatment centers are far from healthy. Many eat irregularly, and when they do eat, they choose quick and easy foods such as fast food or processed meals. The fact is that most addicts are not thinking about sitting down to a healthy meal that is abundant in leafy greens and lean proteins. They have already checked out of caring for their bodies, so filling it with healthy foods is no longer a priority.

Why Addiction Causes Malnutrition

When abusing drugs and alcohol, these substances give the addict a sense of fullness, so they are likely to skip meals or eat very little. In addition, drugs and alcohol interfere with the body’s ability to properly absorb and break down nutrients and expel toxins. This leads to malnutrition, as well as a host of other health problems, such as damaged tissues and organs and gastrointestinal disorders.

Additionally, the life of an addict is not healthy. They don’t follow regular regimens when it comes to sleeping or exercising, and this makes it difficult to make healthy choices in all aspects of life. The cycle of abuse makes them worn down and susceptible to illness, depression and malnutrition.

The Desire to Eat Healthy Comes with Time

Good nutrition is about loving the body and wanting to take care of it, so before an addict can start eating healthy again, they must learn to love themselves and have the desire to improve their health and well being. Without this underlying motivation, there won’t be much drive to choose green tea over soda or broiled fish over a fast food cheeseburger.

With this in mind, some addicts aren’t ready to start eating healthy at the start of their recovery. They are struggling to give up their addiction and discontinue self medication, and they may not be ready to give up satiating foods, too.

How Nutritional IV Therapy Helps

At The River Source, we encourage good nutritional habits from the start, as we want to begin building up the body and giving it essential vitamins and nutrients that it needs to flourish. When the body is strong, it is better suited to go through recovery.

However, our nutritionists understand that recovery is a journey, and everyone takes steps at their own pace. That is why we firmly believe in the power of Nutritional IV Therapy that is given to our clients as part of our standard treatment program, commonly during the detoxification process. Nutritional IV Therapy fills the body with vital nutrients and works hand in hand with Dry Sauna Detox, which rids the body of harmful toxins.

With this therapy, our clients can reap the benefits of a healthy body without needing to modify their eating habits – at least yet. We hope that as their time in treatment continues, they learn to incorporate wholesome habits like eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising and giving up nicotine.

How Addiction and a Lack of Nutrients Affect the Body

Many of our clients wonder why it’s so important to eat healthy in the first place. Will a nutritious diet really have an impact on their recovery? Absolutely. Here’s why.

  • Addiction blocks the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. By implementing healthy lifestyle changes, the body produces more of these chemicals, and feelings of well-being are increased naturally.
  • Addiction damages the immune system. This causes the addict to be tired, run down and likely to get sick more often, feelings that interfere with a healthy recovery. The right foods fuel the immune system and provide energy.
  • Addiction damages tissues, organs and the gastrointestinal system. In order to rebuild these systems, proper nutrition is necessary.
  • It’s possible for recovering addicts to confuse the feeling of hunger with a drug craving, making them more likely to struggle with temptation. Eating high-protein meals and snacks will curb hunger cravings.
  • A poor diet results in a deficiency in amino acids, folic acid and other B-complex vitamins. Smart food choices replenish these nutrients.
  • Research shows that when people are healthy, they are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • Balanced nutrition improves the mood, which curbs cravings and mood swings.

Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Recovery

It’s difficult for anyone to change their eating habits entirely in a few short weeks, so it’s important to be realistic about nutritional goals in the early stages of recovery. Working with a nutritional counselor can be helpful in setting attainable goals each week. Here are some of the most basic yet effective nutrition tips for recovering addicts.

  • Stick to decaf products. Caffeine that is found in soda, tea and other drinks is stimulating and can cause mood fluctuations that initiate cravings.
  • Avoid sugary foods and refined carbs. These, too, causes mood swings and make it harder to select the right food choices. Plus, refined carbs have no nutrients.
  • Eat antioxidant rich foods (fresh fruits and vegetables) and high-protein foods (lean meat, fish, beans, poultry). Fiber is also important since it will help rebuild the digestive system.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day and incorporate snacks so that the body does not feel too hungry. High-protein snacks like nuts, cheese or yogurt are smart picks.
  • Keep the body hydrated with water, as dehydration is common during the initial days of recovery.

Contact The River Source at 1-888-687-7332 to learn more about our nutritional approach toward treating addiction.