Addiction is a disease of the mind, but it also significantly impacts your overall physical health. Opioids like prescription painkillers and heroin can lead to malnutrition because your main priority is addiction, not a healthy diet. Your drug use can make it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients and can trigger digestive problems.
Furthermore, a lack of a healthy diet mixed with drug use means you don’t get the vital amino acids, vitamins and minerals your body needs, affecting your physical health and mood. And if that all wasn’t enough, your addiction can lead to issues with your blood sugar levels, triggering a flight or fight reaction that contributes to depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
The old adages “you are what you eat” and “garbage in; garbage out” have staying power for a reason. What you eat (and don’t eat) is important—especially so during opioid addiction recovery.
What Not to Eat During Addiction Recovery
When your primary focus is scoring your next high, you tend to care less about everything else—including what you eat. You can pick up some pretty bad dietary habits in this state. Then, in recovery, some of these bad foods can interact with your brain’s happy and feel-good centers similarly to opioids. This can make recovery more difficult and may lead to higher rates of relapse.
Some foods to avoid in addiction recovery include:
Refined sugar. Low blood sugar is a common problem among people struggling with addiction and those in the early stages of recovery. Refined sugars go by many names—too many to list here!—but you’ll want to keep an eye out for these. They can be a quick, easy fix to counteract the negative feelings and effects of low blood sugar, but ultimately, they deprive your body of essential vitamins and minerals. Refined sugar has no nutritional value and may even reduce the effectiveness of painkillers, which can contribute to cycles of increasing abuse of the drug.
White flour. It’s highly processed, and your body treats it like processed sugar.
Caffeine. Too much caffeine can weaken your immune system, cause low blood pressure and reduce calcium levels, putting you at risk for osteoporosis. It also stimulates the adrenal glands and can lead to exhaustion by altering your body’s natural order.
Anything with additives and preservatives. Additives and preservatives are used to artificially extend freshness of products like chips, cereals, cookies, meats, fast food and soft drinks, which can disrupt digestion. They make your liver work harder and may even lead to cancer and heart disease.
The Best Recovery Foods to Keep You on Track
You may have heard people talk about superfoods. These are packed with vitamins and minerals that improve multiple areas of nutritional health. Some examples are:
- Sweet potatoes
Keep in mind the five recommended food groups when planning meals:
- Whole grains
- Some other important points to consider:
- Fresh, raw foods provide natural enzymes.
- Saturated and unsaturated fats (oils like coconut, olive, butter, avocado and sesame) can help you feel fuller longer, and they help keep your blood sugar in check.
- Combat apathy and low energy levels with foods that contain tyrosine (bananas, whole grains, soy beans).
Nutrition is Important During Addiction Recovery
Changing your diet can help you bounce back from problems developed during opioid addiction. During the first year of recovery, your body’s nutritional needs are at an even higher level. Healthy foods like the ones mentioned above can help correct chemical imbalances in the brain.
Breaking old habits and returning to a healthy diet can be challenging when you’re also trying to overcome addiction. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment at a reliable addiction treatment center, so a team of experts can get you on a proper treatment plan, help improve your nutrition and guide you toward lasting recovery.
Experience a Personalized, Holistic Approach to Recovery
Fitness and nutrition are great ways to supplement a recovery program, but they are not a solution on their own. You need a comprehensive program that speaks to all the mental and physical aspects of addiction.
At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we work with each client to develop a treatment plan that works for the individual. We do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. Some people addicted to opioids may struggle with co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety. Our team is equipped to handle dual diagnosis situations to provide the help you need.
Contact one of our addiction specialists today and learn how you can begin your journey towards recovery.