Addiction Recovery: Nutrition and Exercise

Exercise during recovery

Recovering from addiction involves eliminating toxins from the body and re-establishing physical and mental wellbeing. Addicts need more just detox: eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly are key elements in maintaining good health during recovery.

Here at Arizona Addiction Recovery Center, we offer our patients quality nutritional services to further assist their bodies in the healing process. Once a client completes detox successfully, we assign them a nutrition counselor who evaluates them for nutritional deficiencies. The counselor then creates a plan to meet the dietary needs of the specific patient.

We also have recreational therapists to help our clients stay physically fit. The exercises are simple and easy, yet effective. We avoid any activity that may strain the body, which is already working hard to recover from the damage caused by substance abuse.

Why Good Nutrition is Important in Recovery

Nutrition during recoveryApart from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, patients in recovery also have to deal with the physical discomforts associated with poor nutrition. These vary, and can range from mild to severe.

Generally, addicts in recovery experience dry skin, hair loss, acne, fatigue, dehydration, dizziness, diarrhea, and vomiting among other symptoms. More severe symptoms that may develop include seizures, heart attacks, and strokes.

Addicts tend to be more susceptible to illnesses because they have lost a substantial amount of vital nutrients. This is because their need to get high is greater than their desire to stay healthy.

Alcoholics, for example, are deficient in many essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fats that the body needs to function properly. This is why many alcoholics appear emaciated and frail.

Poor nutrition also affects mental health. This is a problem because addiction in itself exacerbates mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, dementia, and bipolar disorder to name a few. A healthy diet is very important in helping repair and restore the mental damage caused by addiction.

What Foods Addicts Should and Should Not Eat

Every recovering addict should eat a diet that contains sufficient amounts of vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains should be part of every recovering addict’s diet.

It is just as important to eliminate any foods that have no nutritional value, such as sugary drinks and fast foods. If you’re in recovery and you’re craving sugar (which happens often), consider replacing it with natural sweeteners like honey, coconut sugar, or blackstrap molasses.

Honey, for instance, is a good alternative because it contains powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that protect the body against diseases.

Recovering addicts should also minimize the amount of caffeine they consume. Caffeine does have some health benefits, as it is found in medications used for treating headaches, migraines, and drowsiness. However, too much caffeine can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), sleep disorders, and can increase anxiety and stress. This is why addicts are advised to limit their intake or avoid caffeine altogether as some of its effects can trigger relapse.

Benefits of Good Nutrition

For a recovering addict, good nutrition does wonders in healing the body and mind. In our addiction treatments, we offer nutrition programs designed to ensure that each addict gets all the foods they need in order to:

  • Repair damaged tissues and organs
  • Improve the immune system
  • Increase the body’s energy levels
  • Improve mood and general well-being

The less stressful, moody, tired, or depressed a recovering addict feels, the less likely they are to relapse.

Nutritional guideline for recovering addicts

Once our patients graduate from our addiction treatment program, we offer continue to offer nutritional counseling. This is to help them learn how to create healthy meal plans on their own, and what to include and exclude in their daily diet. Here are some tips we offer recovering addicts for staying on track and minimizing their chances of a relapse:

  • Eat plenty of complex carbs such as white potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, cereals, and whole grains.
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in vitamins (fruits and vegetables)
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise helps improve mood, increase energy levels, promotes self-confidence, and reduces alcohol and drug cravings.
  • Reduce caffeine: Consuming too much caffeine can cause certain problems such as dehydration and stress. It can also suppress your appetite.
  • Reduce sugar intake: Recovering addicts tend to crave sugar, but consuming it can cause a number of problems including unhealthy weight gain.
  • Drink lots of water. Recovering addicts are often dehydrated and should drink plenty of water every day.
  • Avoid unhealthy processed foods
  • Eat regularly: Avoid missing meals to keep your blood glucose levels high.

Adding good nutrition and regular exercise to your recovery regimen will only improve your chances of maintaining long-term sobriety. Remember: recovery can be difficult and challenging, but AARC offers our patients long-term support for as long as they need it. Call us today.