Nutrition is an important part of a healthy recovery. Eating a well-balanced diet helps prevent relapse and restores neurotransmitters in the brain. The right foods will also provide you with the energy needed to get through your days.
Knowing how to eat sensibly doesn’t come overnight. While you were using drugs, you probably sought out foods that provided instant gratification such as sweets and processed meals. Swapping out convenience foods for nutrient-rich options takes diligence, but you must start somewhere.
During intensive outpatient drug treatment in Phoenix, you’ll learn some of the basics of healthy eating. Continuing these sensible habits requires practice, but it does get easier. Let’s talk about the best foods to focus on in early recovery and an example of a sample meal plan.
Diet and Nutritional Guidelines in Early Recovery
Small changes eventually lead to big changes. Here is what we recommend focusing on in early recovery.
- Eat more complex carbs. Complex carbs provide sustainable energy. Foods high in complex carbs include oatmeal, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, brown rice and whole grain breads.
- Eat more protein and fiber. High-protein foods help repair and build muscle tissue that may have been lost while you were using drugs. Foods rich in protein keep you feeling fuller longer, decreasing cravings.
- Take vitamins and supplements. Talk with your doctor first, but it’s likely that your body is deficient in certain nutrients. Common vitamins used in drug rehab in Phoenix are Vitamins A and C, B-complex vitamins and zinc.
- Eat small meals. To keep your blood sugar levels stable and avoid unhealthy snacking, eat small meals throughout the day. Usually, six small meals are ideal – breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks.
- Reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine can be addictive plus cause dehydration. Reduce your intake of caffeine. Try a warm cup of tea instead!
- Drink water. Dehydration can trigger cravings and make you feel fatigued. It’s recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
- Limit sugar. Too much sugar is bad for the body. It puts stress on the liver, increases cholesterol and triglycerides and raises the risk for cancer. The less you eat it, the less you will crave it.
- Avoid processed foods. They may be easy, but fast foods and processed meals are unhealthy and contain few nutrients.
Sample Meal Plan for Recovering Addicts
Here is an example of what a healthy meal plan looks like. You will eat meals similar to this in alcohol rehab in Phoenix. Find the food combinations that work for you – there are many delicious options to choose from!
- Breakfast. Jumpstart your day with something high in protein, such as Greek yogurt mixed with fruit or an omelet topped with cheese and fresh veggies.
- Snack. Opt for complex carbs to keep you feeling full such as whole-grain toast, whole-grain crackers or oatmeal.
- Lunch. Eat high-protein foods to sustain energy levels. Great picks include salads topped with veggies and grilled chicken, soups made with beans or stir fries with fish and vegetables.
- Snack. A light snack with vegetables and hummus or cottage cheese and fruit provide a pick-me-up in the late afternoon.
- Dinner. Include foods from each food group, such as a lean meat, a scoop of brown rice and a side of vegetables.
Learning to eat a well-balanced diet will come easier over time. Follow the tips above and focus on eating six small meals to prevent drops in energy. If you’re still struggling to adopt a healthy eating plan, talk to a nutrition counselor for support.
Geffen has been in the field for over 20 years, and has worked in every facet of substance abuse treatment. Using his own personal experience in recovery and the education he has learned while in the field, Geffen can relate and connect with clients in a way that promotes recovery, self love and the desire for clients to achieve the best for themselves. Geffen is licensed in Arizona as a substance abuse counselor and has an IC&RC certification, as well as a life coaching certification.