Kreed Kleinkopf
July 9, 2019

Can Eating Healthy Food Assist Drug Addiction Recovery?

If you or a loved one is currently struggling with addiction, please understand that you are not alone. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there are over 21.7 million people in the United States who currently need treatment for an issue concerning addiction or substance abuse. Many people who experience a problem with drugs or alcohol will not realize the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Living and eating healthy should play an important role in their recovery from addiction. Typically, when someone has abused drugs or alcohol over a long period of time, substance abuse has taken its toll on their physical and mental health. Through recovery from an addiction, a lot of emotional and mental growth is necessary to rewire the brain, helping to cure the symptoms of the addiction. The patient’s physical health should be a major concern as well. Developing healthy eating habits can help ease some of the early withdrawal symptoms. This will also provide a basis for total body, mind, and spiritual health.

For most people who have struggled with alcoholism or drug abuse, the disease of addiction has created other habits, besides just substance abuse. They will have likely developed some severe nutritional deficiencies as a result of their addiction. For someone who has abused alcohol, the client has usually replaced the calorie intake of food with calories from alcoholic beverages. Some who have developed an addiction to stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine may have skipped entire days of eating food altogether.

Focusing on eating healthy, nutritious foods early on in the initial detox phase of the recovery process is important not only to the physical well-being of the patient but also to the mental health of the individual as well. Replacing the use of illicit drugs or other substances with eating healthy meals, on a regular schedule, will help the person in recovery to develop new habits. This is the beginning of a whole new life, as these habits will play a major role in their successful recovery from addiction.

Food has a profound influence on the way the brain functions. As someone who has studied nutrition, we can assure you that eating unhealthy foods can cause a multitude of health problems. Some chemicals found in fast food can actually have addictive properties in themselves. It is fairly common for us to discover that many people who enter a drug rehabilitation program, sadly cannot remember the last home-cooked meal they ate. Most of these patients will admit that they would simply eat McDonald’s or Taco Bell every single day, that is if they even ate food at all. This is essentially malnutrition and it can have a profound, lasting effect on the mind and on the body.

What healthy foods should I eat while in an addiction treatment program?

A healthy diet in recovery will take into account the levels of serotonin and try to balance them through eating nutritious foods. Serotonin is a hormone produced in the brain that regulates mood and helps the body relax. There are many types of foods to consider as part of a healthy diet for recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. A healthy diet for someone in recovery should include the following:

  • Foods high in carbohydrates. Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils are high in complex carbohydrates and B-vitamins. Broccoli and whole grains are also recommended.
  • Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, yams, turnips and parsnips.
  • Foods high in carbs like pasta, bread, barley, wheat, and rye.
  • Fruits and antioxidants like beets, avocados, blueberries, and citrus will help the body naturally detox.
  • Nuts and seeds like almonds, pine nuts, and macadamia nuts will help the body detox in a natural way.



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