Addiction treatment is often thought of as recovery for the mind, and frequently, nutrition during addiction treatment is an afterthought. For loved ones supporting a family member in recovery or those exploring Dana Point rehabs as a treatment option, it’s important to understand the effects addiction has on the body and how proper nutrition can help reverse those detrimental results.
Self-care is often lost in the eyes of those suffering from alcohol and drug abuse. So, when someone suffering from addiction takes the step into rehabilitation, it’s common to disregard proper nutrition as it hasn’t been a priority for some time. In addition, treatment at some Dana Point rehabs may be as short as 30 days, and while amazing work can be accomplished in that time, it leaves little room to concentrate on nutrition when sobriety is the main goal.
However, studies have found that when nutrition during addiction treatment is placed as the main concern, patients regain their health more quickly. They also have sharper mental focus and rely less on a substance replacement, such as caffeine, nicotine, or sugar.
How Addiction Affects Health
To understand why balanced nutrition is critical in addiction treatment, we must first understand what the reliance on drugs and alcohol can do to the human body. Alcohol and drug addiction can quickly cause malnutrition as it blocks the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
The body is deprived of different, necessary nutrients based on the substance being used. Those addicted to opiates tend to show deficiencies in calcium, vitamins D and B6, and iron, while those addicted to cocaine generally have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Alcoholics often show more deficiency than other substance abuse victims as alcohol causes the body to expel larger quantities of nutrition.
The symptoms of malnutrition also vary by case. A loss of essential minerals and vitamins can cause weakness, anxiety, anemia, insomnia, weight loss, immune system challenges, slow wound healing and more.
David Wiss, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Los Angeles-based Nutrition in Recovery, says individuals in recovery often desire immediate satisfaction, which lends their food choices to sugar-loaded options, refined carbohydrates, or foods high in fat and salt content. While vitamin supplements can be helpful for recovery addicts, true nutrition comes from real foods and helping the patient make the right meal choices each day.
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Nutrition During Addiction Treatment
Skilled doctors and recovery specialists in Dana Point rehabs understand that a detailed nutrition plan is necessary for an addict to experience long-term recovery. Nutrition cannot be a by-product of addiction treatment; it is a necessary step in the recovery process beginning on day one.
While an individualized diet plan is needed for each individual in recovery, there are good guidelines to follow when it comes to the best foods for addiction treatment.
- Eliminate artificial ingredients: Processed foods are high in artificial ingredients, which can hinder liver repair. The fewer, the better.
- Healthy fats: Foods high in healthy fats, like olive oil, salmon, flaxseed oil, and nuts, support the body in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.
- Increase fiber: Healing of the gastrointestinal system can occur more rapidly with a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Increase protein: Behaviors of those suffering from addiction can eliminate neurotransmitters. A diet high in protein, specifically that of fish, can help restore the endogenous chemicals to the brain.
- Limited caffeine: Early sobriety is often accompanied by anxiety and insomnia. A diet high in caffeine can worsen those effects.
- Low sugar: Stabilizing blood sugar levels will help reduce signs of depression, anxiety and mood swings. By eliminating foods with added sugar, addicts can avoid intense highs and lows of addiction recovery.
- Reduce carbohydrates: Whole grains are a healthy replacement for refined carbs.
A well-balanced diet is just as important for individuals who suffer from addiction as regularly consuming food. Addiction recovery should include a nutrition plan that allows patients to eat every 2 to 4 hours. It’s important for the body and mind to be balanced throughout the day. Mood swings and a blood sugar imbalance can be avoided when a patient avoids hunger and extreme fullness.
Benefits of Proper Nutrition in Addiction Treatment
While some Dana Point rehabs don’t place a major emphasis on nutrition during addiction treatment, the highly-skilled and supportive team at Ocean Hills Recovery knows that each patient needs to receive the education and life skills necessary to eat properly once they leave our treatment center.
Building a life that doesn’t revolve around alcohol, drugs or food is our goal. Recovering addicts need to eat from each major food group and understand that creating those meals at home is a key element to continued sobriety. Choosing fresh, whole foods boosts their nutrition and will help them feel better throughout the entire recovery process. Anyone who wishes to learn more about addiction treatment at Ocean Hills Recovery and our take on nutrition’s role in recovery is invited to contact our team today.