Food doesn’t get nearly the credit it should when it comes to health and well-being. Not unlike drugs, food impacts the body’s health in significant ways whether we notice it or not. In effect, the wide variety of foods you eat every day are drugs in their own right, making you healthier or weakening your body and making you sick. This is especially the case when you’re in recovery from alcohol addiction. The foods you eat while in recovery from alcohol addiction can actually affect your ability to handle and maintain a sober lifestyle.
Nutrition for Addiction Recovery – A Rebuilding Process
Alcohol addiction takes a tremendous toll on your body, weakening the immune system, warping brain function, and compromising the body’s ability to extract nutrients from food. For these reasons, your nutrition needs are at their highest during your first year of recovery. Knowing which foods to eat while in recovery from alcohol addiction (and which foods not to eat) can go a long way towards supporting your efforts to live a sober lifestyle.
Best Food To Eat When Recovering From Alcohol Addiction
High Fiber Foods
Fiber-based foods feed the “good” bacteria in your gut so they play a critical role in supporting gut health. Your digestive tract requires a healthy population of “good” bacteria to properly extract nutrients from food. The body’s gut-brain connection, which directly affects mood and mental acuity, also relies on a healthy level of good gut bacteria. Alcoholism does considerable damage to the digestive tract so a diet high in fiber is just what’s needed to repair and rebuild.
Here are a few high fiber foods to eat while in recovery from alcohol addiction:
- Legumes, which includes black beans, lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans
- Whole grains
Foods Rich in B-Complex Vitamins
Nutrition for addiction recovery should attempt to replenish the nutrients most depleted by alcohol addiction. B vitamin deficiencies can be expected for people struggling with or recovering from alcohol addiction. Part of the reason for this has to do with the poor eating habits that come with alcoholism. Another reason has to do with the damage done to your body’s ability to metabolize food nutrients. Symptoms of vitamin B deficiencies include:
- Problems concentrating
- Memory problems
Including foods rich in vitamin B in your daily diet can help improve cognitive and emotional functioning. When it comes to enhancing your ability to incorporate the principles of alcohol rehab into your daily life, mental, and emotional well-being matters. Yet another example of how drug addiction recovery and nutrition go hand-in-hand.
Consider adding as many of these foods as possible to your daily diet:
- Poultry, fish, and red meat
- Dark, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli
- Dairy products, such as milk and cheese
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains, including barley and brown rice
Your immune system does a lot more than just protect you from germs and viruses. It helps regulate the hormones that affect your mood, your mental health, and even your behavior. As much as 80 percent of this system resides in your digestive tract. This means you can boost your immune system health by eating right. Fermented foods are the “superfoods” when it comes to gut-immune system health.
Here are a few to consider adding to your diet:
- Pickled vegetables
- Tempeh (a soybean-based, meat substitute)
Lots of Protein
Alcohol’s effects in the brain cause considerable cell damage, which can make people in recovery that much more susceptible to relapse. For these reasons, drug addiction recovery and nutrition experts emphasize the need for protein in your daily diet. Proteins are the materials your body uses to repair cells and make new ones.
Quality sources of protein include:
- Full-fat yogurts
- Grass-fed and pastured meats
- Wild-caught fish
Foods to Avoid
Sugar and Caffeine
Your body naturally converts alcohol to sugar so an alcohol addiction wreaks havoc on the body’s sugar levels. Now that you’re in recovery, your body craves sugar since alcohol is no longer available. Unfortunately, eating too much sugar in recovery sets you up for a sugar crash, which can easily lead to depression. From there, it’s only a hop, skip and jump before alcohol cravings start to surface.
Caffeine also tends to spike the body’s sugar levels, triggering the crash-depression cycle. While it may seem like that cup of coffee is filling the gap that alcohol left, too much coffee can actually sabotage your recovery efforts.
After relying on alcohol to save the day for so many months or years, it can be hard to believe that the foods you eat can make a real difference in your quality of life. Apparently, Hippocrates’ advice was right on the money: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The best foods to eat while in recovery from alcohol addiction can actually help you stay the course in recovery.
Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.