Recovery is all about stopping substance use, right? Actually, recovery is about healing holistically—mind, body, and soul—not simply abstaining from substances. Within our recovery, we will address all aspects of our being, and learn new tools and habits to become healthy overall. Physical health is an important aspect, but as we remove harmful substances from our intake, we also need to compensate for the substance use with habits like eating nutritiously. So, how can we feed our recovery?
There are so many facets to our recovery from substance use. The actual physical recovery can be very difficult, with detoxification being only the first part of that process. We must heal from the abuse our bodies took, not only from the substances themselves but also from the behaviors that accompanied our substance use.
These behaviors may have included not only poor sleep habits and risky behaviors but also a lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits. All of these behaviors take their toll on our bodies, but eating habits, in particular, require changes for us to heal. Recovering physically is not only about healing from the substances we put into our bodies, but also the things our bodies did not receive.
Deficiencies in Nutrients
Whether from poor eating habits or due to the substances not allowing our bodies to absorb the nutrients that we did ingest, most of us are lacking in nutrients after substance use. Certainly, we can take vitamins and other supplements to help us restore our health, however, the best way to achieve balance again in our bodies is to eat a nutrient-rich diet.
Our bodies usually absorb nutrients best when they are in the foods we eat, although sometimes supplements are necessary in order to achieve the desired levels of a nutrient. While a nutritious diet is important to our overall health in recovery, there are deficiencies that are specific to certain substances.
For instance, those who drink alcohol may be low in vitamin A, vitamin C, and thiamine. Adding omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to their diet can help reverse the effects of certain liver conditions. Our individual health may be very different from others’ health, though, so it is important to seek individual help when it comes to our diet. Seeking the help of experienced medical professionals to overcome certain deficiencies is an important part of our recovery.
Potential Health Problems
Substance use can create many potential health problems, increasing exponentially according to the specific substances we used and the length of time we have used them. There are substance-specific health issues such as liver disease, gastrointestinal troubles, depression, and anxiety. Less commonly discussed health issues include sleep dysfunction, weight loss or weight gain, and malnutrition.
All of these conditions can be helped by changes in diet. Even in instances of weight gain, we need to consume enough calories to help our bodies heal. It is important to avoid diets with low calories or fasting during recovery because of the risks to physical health as well as the risks of developing a food-related addiction. Eating the proper foods can help us heal as well as prevent new health issues.
Why Nutrition Is So Important
What we put into our bodies after substance use carries more importance than previously. Just as we are learning to be vigilant against cravings and heal our thinking and emotions, we must also be vigilant in our diet. Healing can only occur when we have adequately given our bodies the nutrients they need to heal.
Many health issues require changes in something we put in our bodies. Diabetes, for example, requires that we carefully monitor our insulin levels and eat a specific diet to maintain health. We give our body extra electrolytes and fluids after having a stomach bug, so why wouldn’t we pay close attention to what we give our bodies after substance use?
Why Healthy Eating Helps Us
Healthy eating can help our bodies heal, but it also helps our minds to heal as well. When we take the time and effort to eat healthy foods, we are telling our minds and our bodies that we are worth it. Healthy eating is a form of self-care, which demonstrates love for ourselves. As we heal physically with good nutrition, we also heal mentally.
Eating nutritiously also improves how we feel physically. An appropriate amount of calories helps us work through the physical and mental aspects of recovery, and gives us the needed energy to begin exercising, for example. Eating certain foods can help our brain function, which helps us feel better, too. Healthy eating is like an investment in the future.
Feeding Our Recovery
Treating substance use should not only focus on the substances we are trying to remove from our bodies. It is also important to pay close attention to what we are putting into our bodies. What we eat is an investment in our health, not only today but also for our future. We can help our bodies heal from deficiencies and health problems, and we can become stronger mentally and physically as we feed our recovery.
How can you feed your recovery? Call AToN Center at (888) 813-5928 to let us help you. We focus on nutrition from the garden to the table and help you learn to eat both nutritiously and deliciously. Learn to feed your recovery with us.