How Your Diet Affects Addiction Recovery

December 19, 2022

Written By: Lynn C. Santella MSN, RN, CNOR

Overcoming the use of drugs or alcohol is a wholly transformative experience. To do so, however, an individual will have to make a myriad of changes to their daily life. This includes adopting new coping strategies to overcome the continued emotional effects of addiction and prevalent urges and cravings. It also requires additional lifestyle changes, such as learning how to properly nourish the mind and body. Diet and nutrition are powerful tools for healing and overall addiction recovery. Embracing a dedicated, educated approach to your diet can have many advantages for an individual’s continued success in their journey to a healthier, sober life.

The Effects of Addiction on Diet

There is no question that addiction affects a person’s entire life and lifestyle. Substance use impairs physical and mental health, which, in turn, affects an individual’s behaviors, mentality, and mood. Those struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can have their entire routines upended, which interferes with various factors such as their hygiene and diet. Skipping meals, having inconsistent mealtimes, or eschewing healthy eating habits for less nutritious options can be all too common. 

Low nutrition combined with the continued negative effects of drugs and alcohol can combine to have highly destructive effects on an individual’s health. Recovery is an effort in healing the whole self, with a healthy diet being necessary to repair the damage that occurred to the body as a result of addiction.

Diet and Physical Health

Tending to physical health is essential for an effective recovery. Substance use can cause long-lasting damage to various organs of the body and other elements of an individual’s physical health. Healing from this damage takes a lot of energy. Supplying the body with proper vitamins and nutrients can provide the necessary resources to begin the healing process. Likewise, avoiding sugars or fatty foods – that may otherwise negatively impact a person’s recovery efforts – can do wonders for an individual’s lasting health and well-being.

An effective diet can also provide an individual with the energy and nutrients to engage in other self-care activities. By helping an individual engage in a more active lifestyle, they can further improve their physical health while effectively engaging in personalized therapeutic outlets and opportunities.

Your Mental Health and Diet are Connected

Poor diet also affects mental health. Unhealthy diets or skipped meals can further compromise a person’s resilience to overcome stress and increase feelings of anxiety or fatigue. A well-rounded diet can help to address feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, and more for a healthy mental state throughout any stage of the addiction recovery process.

Nutrition can also provide the necessary focus and mental energy to effectively engage in dedicated therapeutic outlets. This can help an individual get more involved in dedicated therapeutic programs while also ensuring that an individual is mentally prepared for the social components of an effective recovery.

Using Diet as Structure in Addiction Recovery

While the physical and emotional benefits of a healthy diet are instrumental for an effective recovery and newfound sober lifestyle, it also provides additional benefits. Where addiction can compromise regular mealtimes and even lead to malnutrition, utilizing established, consistent meals can have several advantages. Regularly scheduled meals can add a degree of structure to daily life. Doing so can also create a feeling of consistency throughout the day and make it easier to manage any stresses that may manifest.

Eating regular meals throughout the day also ensures that a person can effectively measure their dietary intake. Inconsistent meals can lead to an individual not being fully aware of what they are eating at any point in time, often coupled with an increase in unhealthy snacking. Being able to monitor meals and ensure they are healthy and sufficient can help each individual continue to benefit from effective dieting throughout any stage of recovery.

Keeping Diet in Focus

Snacking can have several adverse effects on top of compromising one’s addiction recovery. It can also cause an individual to be less hungry come their established mealtimes, slowly altering this important schedule. Eating before bed can also affect regular sleep routines, especially when an individual is eating snacks with high levels of sugar or caffeine.

Caffeine is exceptionally dangerous. This is because it affects the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to diarrhea. It can also affect an individual’s mental health by increasing feelings of anxiety or panic while compromising a regular night’s sleep. This can lead to unnecessary stress that affects the ability to tend to personal responsibilities, especially if a person is exhausted from sleeping difficulties.

Dedicated addiction recovery programs are necessary for understanding and effectively implementing healthy diet routines. It can be difficult to make such important changes to an individual’s daily routine. Professionals can help each individual navigate the challenges of addiction recovery while educating and providing the necessary nutrients to each individual throughout the recovery process. Recovery is a pursuit of a healthier, happier life, and one’s diet is integral to continued success and relapse prevention throughout a person’s sobriety.

Embracing a healthy diet is essential for your recovery efforts. We at Buena Vista Recovery understand and champion healing the whole self. This includes addressing your needs in processing urges and cravings alongside addressing your physical and emotional health. Your time with us is personalized at each stage of recovery, from detox and residential care to ongoing intensive outpatient programs, all dedicated to helping you make the healthy, sober transformations necessary for a healthy, fulfilling life. We are committed to helping you not only embrace practices that heal the whole self but also maintain these transformations for a sober future. For more information on how we can provide healthy dieting options throughout your recovery, call (480) 741-9414.