Want to learn more about why a good diet is a critical component of recovery?

While nutrition and a healthy diet are important to everybody, they are especially critical to the healing and relapse prevention efforts of those recovering from addictions. Several important concepts to keep in mind:

1. Addictions deplete the body and brain of essential nutrients.
2. You can reverse this process by following a well-balanced diet.
3. Certain foods make you more prone to urges, cravings and potential relapse.
4. Proper diet can reduce urges and cravings, decrease post-acute withdrawal symptoms, and promote physiological and psychological healing.

Malnutrition is a common problem in those suffering from addiction because they don’t eat at all, or don’t eat nutritionally-appropriate meals. Alcohol and opiates, in particular, compromise the digestive system in ways that deprive the body the ability to process and absorb nutrients. The result is often disease, brain function decline, and body organ and tissue damage. How, then, to undo this process?

First of all, resist the natural cravings you have for sugar, fat and salt. These cravings are especially pronounced in the recovering person. Therefore, you’re especially vulnerable to the ill-effects of processed sugars and unhealthy fats. Why? Because these foods offer an immediate dopamine response (reward and motivation), as well as stimulate production of the body’s natural opioids (sense of well-being, pleasure), such as endorphins. That’s right, sugar and fat actually trigger the same addictive brain pathways that drugs and alcohol do!

Obviously, if your diet is filled with fatty foods and sweets, you’re not only feeding drug/alcohol cravings, you’re failing to re-nourish your body and brain. And how do we re-nourish?

By getting the processed foods and sugars out of our diets, and replacing them with fresh, healthy choices such as: Fruits, vegetables, berries, melons, avocado, leafy greens, legumes, lean (or lean-cut) meats, dairy, fish, soy, beans, seeds, cereals, grains and nuts.

Depending upon our busy schedules, we may find it difficult to consistently prepare the kinds of meals our bodies need for maximum health and recovery potential. While I advocate planning ahead, including prepping several days’ meals in advance, that might not always be feasible.

In that case, there are some very good supplement products on the market, that help bridge the gap and keep you focused on not only eating well, but eating right!

For more information on how to use nutrition and exercise to aid in addiction recovery and relapse prevention, please read Rebalancing the Addictive Mind: Beating Addiction with Exercise and Nutrition. Available on Amazon.com