In the world of recovery, not a whole lot of people emphasize the value of having a healthy diet. For many of us, our addiction was usually filled with either fast food, candy, ramen noodles, or just plain old not eating. Now that we are sober, and our bodies are running on things other than booze and drugs, it’s time we take a good hard look at the phrase, “you are what you eat.”
The major causes of death in which nutrition is included are:
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- nutritional anemias
The most common health disorders associated with substance and alcoholism are:
- Brain damage and stroke
- Cardiovascular issues
- Kidney damage
- Immune system damage
- Heart Palpitations
It doesn’t take the naked eye to determine that substance abuse and unhealthy eating destroy the body in similar ways. Granted, substance abuse can just take a dangerous toll a lot faster. The point here is that if we want to avoid being the old people in the rooms that are literally falling apart at the seems, we need to take care of ourselves now.
The Bottom Line
For A LOT of people, giving up one thing can often lead to another, and when we know damn well that we can’t go back to drugs and alcohol, a lot of people turn to the other equally as addictive, but more societally approved, caffeine, nicotine, and sugar, to satisfy the itch.
Why do you think there are always coffee and cookies at meetings?!
I’m not saying anybody needs to go keto or vegan or whatever else. What I AM saying, is that having a healthy diet in sobriety is something that will not only make you feel better physically, but it will also improve your mental state, your emotional state, and hey, maybe even that spiritual state!
Where to Start
First of all, I want you to know, that I love sugar, and carbs, and cheese, and all of the things. I will never stop loving those things. However, I just had to cut back on them a little bit. In order to start a healthy diet, one of the worst ways to do it so that it will actually stick is to just stop eating everything you love all at one time.
Here is the thing, we literally become just as addicted to sugar and carbs as we do to other things, and suddenly stopping sugar out of the blue can actually send us into almost a withdrawal state. Research has shown that phasing it out over a few days actually works better for most people, like tapering.
That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of these things forever! Research also shows that allowing yourself a night to “go ham” on some chicken and waffles or steak and potatoes or poutine will actually help you to keep your routine going. This is where a healthy diet and sobriety differ.
With our sobriety, we can’t “just have one night of fun”, but with snacks, be my guest!
What To Add, What to Subtract
Many people get daunted by diet change because they assume they have to change everything completely, but again, research shows that small changes here or there can actually lead to a lot of benefits.
If you want to know what to start letting go of, start here:
- Soda and Energy Drinks – A bummer for some, and an impossible task for others. But there is so much sugar and preservatives and, well, crap, in these drinks, it’d be better to drink nothing at all. Instead of your mandatory energy drink in the morning, try:
- Matcha drinks
- La Croix
- Caffeinated teas
- Ready Made Foods – I hate to say it, but that box of pizza rolls or the hot pocket that are so convenient, are going to destroy your energy later in the day. The processed cheese and meats and bread are going to spike your blood sugar, which equals an insulin explosion, which equals a complete crash in energy. Try switching to something else that you can take on the go like:
- Meat and cheese roll-ups (like your own homemade lunchable!)
- Apples and peanut butter
- Fast Food – It’s greasy, it’s delicious, it usually satisfies every craving you are having. But the feeling afterward, you know the one, where you feel like you need to wash your face and your hands and your life? Yeah, that one, you feel like that for a reason. Every once in a while its alright to splurge on a little chick fil a, but multiple stops at the drive through every week are going to crush your soul, and your wallet. I hate to say it, but home cooking your own meals at home has been PROVEN to not only be healthier but to be cheaper too.
If you are craving some healthy options to bring into your diet, try:
- Healthy Snacks – nuts, fruits, raw veggies, peanut butter, sure, even a little ranch on your veggies. All of these things are portable, can fit into a purse or backpack or briefcase, and will help ward off the craving to order Chinese takeout for lunch at work.
- Snacking Often – Research also proves that people who snack throughout the day (not on potato chips and candy bars) have an easier time maintaining their overall eating goals. It also keeps the metabolism going steady all day, and prevents energy spikes and crashes.
- Healthy Meats – Cutting down on red meats and eating more lean options like chicken, turkey, and fish are also great ways to boost protein intake without clogging the arteries. Plus, for the most part, turkey and chicken are way more flexible in different dishes than red meats.
Some other ways to help stick to your goals is to always go grocery shopping with a list and a budget. Also, research shows that getting ample sleep helps to ward off stress levels, which have been proven to have a direct link to overeating.
Another thing, sticking to a regular eating schedule makes sticking to healthy nutrition a lot easier too. People who only eat one meal a day tend to eat big, and pack in the carbs. This is because the body is literally starving for nutrients, so we usually tend to give it high fat and high carbs when we are in that state. By the end of the meal, we are so full of garbage that we get tired, like little puppies needing an “after snack nap”.
Long story short, having a healthy diet leads to a healthy body, and mind, and everything else. It can become a lifestyle, but it is literally proven that people who take the time to feed themselves well are overall happier and more relaxed people. Healthy diets have even been proven to help reduce the symptoms of mental disorders!
If you are addicted to drugs or know someone who is, do not hesitate to reach out for help. The disease of addiction is one that can be treated and managed. You or your loved one do not need to live in pain any longer. With the help of the experienced staff at our DELRAY BEACH IOP, recovery is possible.