Introducing healthy eating during an addiction treatment program is not an easy task. Recovering addicts are going through so many changes, they often aren’t open to starting a new diet plan. However, as we all know, addicts cannot continue eating the same foods they’ve been relying on. Their bodies are likely depleted, malnourished and possibly even damaged. Healthy eating should be a priority.
Why Nutrition is Important
Sometimes, families feel that it’s too much to ask their loved one to give up the foods they enjoy while getting sober. However, giving recovering addicts full access to chips, cookies and crackers can be dangerous. High fat, salty and sweet foods are easy to binge on. The brain doesn’t heal on these types of foods, putting a recovering addict at a higher risk for relapse.
We’re not suggesting that all “comfort foods” should be eliminated. We realize that it’s enjoyable to have a handful of chips or a couple of cookies after dinner. The key is to keep these foods in moderation and start introducing nutritious options such as nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Recovering addicts may also benefit from a multivitamin that can help them restore their body. However, please be aware that vitamins do not replace the need to eat healthy foods.
Sample Meal Plan
To help recovering addicts and their families, we like to put together sample meal plans. This makes it easier to visualize the types of meals that can be served in the home. It’s easier than you think – and your loved one will learn to enjoy these foods! In fact, this may be an opportunity for everyone in the family to get healthier!
Always focus on well-rounded meals that include plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and protein. Your loved one should get most of their antioxidants, vitamins and minerals from food.
Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with mixed berries, Greek yogurt, flaxseed and almond milk.
Morning snack: Whole grain slice of toast with almond butter and hard boiled egg.
Lunch: Plate of raw veggies topped with grilled chicken and a side of bean soup.
Afternoon snack: Piece of fresh fruit, string cheese or a handful of nuts.
Dinner: Quinoa, salmon, cooked vegetable and green salad.
Snack: Bowl of frozen sherbet topped with pine nuts.
The key is not to rush anything in early recovery. It will take time to adjust to all the changes, including eating healthy. Focus on what can be eaten, not the foods that can’t. Eating the right foods should never feel like a punishment. Instead, it should be a complementary part of a healthy and satisfying recovery process.