You Are What You Eat: The Role of Nutrition in Addiction Recovery

nutrition-addiction-recoveryIn life, and especially in recovery, you are what you eat. When a person is dealing with substance abuse, it permeates every part of their life. Relationships, work and health don’t matter. If unhealthy eating and exercise habits can have a negative impact on a seemingly healthy person, just imagine what they do to someone who is also abusing drugs or alcohol.

When a person is active in addiction, they usually aren’t concerned about eating balanced meals and living a healthy lifestyle. Even when a person is in recovery and wants to restore their health and vitality, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to reverse the physical side effects of addiction.

Overcoming Addiction From the Inside Out

Many people who enter treatment aren’t just dealing with overcoming substance use disorder–there are also health issues related to substance use that need to be addressed. They might have unhealthy gut bacteria and a weakened immune system. Nutritional deficiencies may be causing low energy, a loss of muscle tone, poor sleeping habits or skin conditions.

But a diet that is rich in fresh, healthy foods can help heal the body from the inside out, boosting endorphin levels, improving mental clarity, reducing cravings and building strength. And treatment that incorporates nutrition education and cooking classes is even better.

Boston Medical Center has long offered cooking classes for a range of illnesses and conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, for patients, staff and visitors. They recently launched a program for people in recovery from substance use disorder.

“If they’ve spent years doing drugs, they haven’t been taking care of their bodies and their bodies are depleted,” Tracey Burg, registered dietitian and chef at Boston Medical Center, said in an interview with Food Management. “Food can restore the body to where it once was and it can be a big help in the recovery process.”

Eating Your Way Into Recovery

At BRC Recovery, our nutrition and life skills classes emphasize the importance of fueling your body on the best ingredients. A diet that’s rich in whole grains and fresh produce can help restore your health and make you feel more balanced, while one that’s high in sugar can leave you feeling low.

Many people in recovery turn to sugary foods because they affect the same parts of the brain as drugs. This can cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall rapidly, and could eventually lead to relapse.

By providing education on healthy nutrition habits, we equip our clients with the life skills necessary to succeed in recovery and maintain independence in life after treatment. We treat the whole person because we know that it offers a stronger chance of lasting recovery. For more information about our Life Skills Program, contact a BRC Recovery Specialist at 1-866-905-4550.