A Healthy Mind and Body with Nutrition Education Programs

Addiction can affect multiple areas of life, even one’s nutrition. Many individuals in active addiction tend to neglect self-care, including the nourishment of their bodies. Since treatment is not solely about refraining from using drugs or alcohol, it must incorporate healing in all areas in life. Nutrition education programs give recovering individuals the tools that they need to relearn the importance of proper nutrition and implement healthy eating throughout recovery.

How Addiction Affects the Body

Those that have been struggling with addiction may be malnourished for two reasons: either they have neglected to give their body the nourishment it needs or drugs and alcohol have taken a negative toll on their body. Different drugs affect the body in different ways. For example, those that take opiates are often recorded as having a deficiency in iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium. While those that struggle with alcohol commonly are tested to show vitamin B deficiencies. Additionally, cocaine users will often lack enough omega-3 fatty acids. These deficiencies can lead to a multitude of physical and emotional side effects. Thankfully, with the implementation of nutrition education programs, those recovering from alcohol or drug addiction can allow their bodies to recover and also learn useful healthy and nutritional lifestyle choices.  

Healthy Eating and Choices

Making bad nutritional choices throughout active addiction will cause a person’s body to not function at its optimal level. Proper nutrition gives the body the equipment it needs to heal itself and make new cells. Additionally, it provides the body with the tools it needs to regulate moods and mental health. Eating right and making healthy choices is good for everyone, but especially those healing from drug or alcohol addiction in recovery. Often times, those in recovery will replace their drug of choice for a new acceptable addiction. This could be sugar or processed food that provide no nourishment for the body. Instead of reaching for sugary foods, implementing a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and good proteins will get the recovering body up to par again.

Techniques Nutrition Education Programs Teach

Many treatment facilities offer nutrition education programs to help recovering individuals learn how to make healthy eating choices for long-term recovery. Some of the tips taught during nutrition education programs include:

  • Eating less sugar- Sugar raises blood sugar levels and can result in agitating side effects like irritability, anxiety, and depression.
  • Carbohydrates- Try staying away from foods high in carbs, but choose grainy foods instead. Carbs turn into glucose, or sugar, when digested.
  • Protein- Choose a diet high in proteins which help the functionality of neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Good Fats- Instead of trans fats, choose good fats in your diet. Fat should account for around 10% of your diet. Healthy fats are found in fish, nuts, and avocados.
  • Processed Foods- Although they may be an easier decision, stay away from processed and packaged foods as much as possible. Artificial components do not give your liver the nutrients it needs to heal itself and clean your blood of harmful toxins.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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