Remember, in early recovery, your body cannot tell the difference between drug/alcohol cravings and food cravings!
Follow the following tips for success:
- Eat regularly. Do not skip breakfast or any other meal.
- Have five or six small meals per day. Example: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner.
- Manage your cravings for sweets with fresh fruits such as apples, grapes, bananas, berries.
- Manage your cravings for fat with foods such as nuts, avocado, olives, dairy, salmon.
- Use the 3-2-1 rule of thumb to guide your dietary choices in early recovery. That means about half of your calories come from carbohydrates, one-third from protein and one-sixth from fat. With more consistency (time) in both recovery and as a healthy eater, you may wish to alter the ratios of carbs and protein.
- Eat until no longer hungry, not until full.
- Eat meals with others if possible. Eating while reading or watching TV makes us tend to over-eat.
- Have plenty of healthy foods available as snacks. These can be fruit, vegetables, protein bars, yogurt, etc.
- Plan your meals and grocery shop when you’re NOT hungry. Make a list and stick to the list. Avoid the impulse-items!
- Make sure you get plenty of vegetables, beans, lean meats, fresh fruit, dairy, grains, nuts/seeds and fiber in your diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Keep caffeine intake to one or two cups of coffee per day.
- Clean and prep food. Refrigerate. Fresh meals and snacks ready in a jiffy!
In my early recovery, I did not follow this advice. I didn’t know any better. And it hardly seemed important compared to all my other problems. Sadly, not only did I prolong the emotional roller-coaster, sleeplessness, cravings and overall struggle of early recovery, I gained 40 pounds.
Remember, the reason we crave candy and fatty foods is because they trigger the same addictive pathways in our brain that drugs and alcohol do! We have the benefit of knowing this now.
And to those who would state that it’s just too much to start a slow, measured approach to changing their diet, I say this, “Stopping drinking and drugging seemed like ‘too much’, too. Yet you’ve done it. So why not give yourself every advantage you can to feel better faster and get the totality of your life back on track?”
A recovery lifestyle is about more than surviving and white-knuckling it. It’s about thriving and reaching new heights – not just “getting back to where I used to be.”
Bring the best body and mind you can for the journey!