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‘You are what you eat.’ Many of us have heard this statement throughout our lives. The funny thing is, there’s a surprising amount of truth to these words. What we eat affects our health throughout our lives.
This truth is, especially, the case for recovering drug and alcohol addicts. People suffering from addiction deal with more than the effects of the drugs. Heavy drug and alcohol use can affect eating habits and nutrition. Addicts might:
— Abuse drugs that suppress their appetites.
— Become so involved in their drug use that they forget to eat.
— Eat junk food instead of healthy, nutritious food.
— Not be able to afford to buy food (or healthy food) because they’re spending all their money on drugs.
It’s not surprising, then, that some addicts (and recovering addicts) suffer from malnutrition. Some rehab centers employ nutritional counselors that teach former addicts how to eat well to regain their strength. However, one might wonder what happens after a person leaves rehab. Recovery can be a lifelong process that goes hand in hand with healthy eating.
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Eating well during addiction recovery can aid an addict in maintaining the strength they’ve regained in rehab. It’s a shame for a person to go through the work of rehab programs, only to become weak because they eat a ton of junk food. Sadly, this is a common phenomenon.
It turns out that some people recovering from alcohol abuse are also dependent on sugar. There is some debate about whether sugar is an addictive substance, but researcher, Jeffrey L. Fortuna, contends that many people who abuse drugs and alcohol have a preference for sweet foods. He notes that studies have shown that when these people consume sweet foods, their brains react similarly to if they had used drugs or alcohol.
Consuming large amounts of sugar isn’t the best solution for those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse (for anyone). But there are steps former addicts can take to improve their diet and maintain their sobriety. Even if you aren’t recovering from an addiction, many of these steps promote healthy nutrition and exercise.
To eat healthier, a former addict could consider finding help at Rehab centers, which have nutritional counselors — as do many hospitals. Enlisting the services of professionals such as dietitians, nutritionists, family doctors, (etc.) can help a person learn to how to eat more nutritiously. If a person’s received addiction treatment at rehab, why shouldn’t they seek help for nutritional needs?
Utilizing online resources is also a great idea, and can provide a wealth of useful information on nutrition and exercise. The internet also contains harmful information, so one must be careful about which sites they trust; be wary of sites that make grand promises. Instead, consider searching for healthy recipes on Pinterest or online food magazines.
Moreover, there are many fantastic blogs that discuss the role of nutrition and exercise for a sober lifestyle. Other blogs and pages provide awesome health tips. Online reviews and recipes can also give a person ideas about what might work — and what won’t work when creating an improved health plan.
Eating more vegetables is essential to improving one’s diet. Nutritional diets aren’t only about avoiding unhealthy food, but adding foods that enhance a person’s general health. Eating more vegetables provides the body with several significant vitamins and minerals.
As well, vegetables can fill a person up without adding a lot of calories or fat to your diet. If you’re a person who hates vegetables, you might want to reconsider. More restaurants are encompassing varied types of vegetables and preparing them in unique and tasty ways that might appeal to more people when eating out.
Also, adding more protein to your diet is vital. A person doesn’t have to go on the Atkins diet or eat a side of beef to incorporate more protein. Eating a few nuts or some Greek yogurt can prevent a person from becoming ravenously hungry and making questionable food choices later in the day.
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Also, if a person exercises they’re taking vital steps to improving their health. One also might be more inclined to eat healthier while exercising, since they won’t want to undo their improved physical appearance and sense of well-being caused by increased exercise. Physical activity also releases chemicals into the brain called endorphins.
Endorphins can create positive feelings and prevent stress and depression. Stress and depression both contribute to drug addiction and eating disorders. As a consequence, exercise can prevent addictions and eating issues from returning or occurring in the first place.
Taking small steps is key to improving one’s overall health. If a person can’t change their entire diet and exercise routine, there are small things one can do such as not ordering soft drinks and not choosing french fries as a side dish at a restaurant.
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Moreover, people shouldn’t beat themselves up for not eating healthfully all of the time. Most of us eat birthday cake now and then, and sometimes binge on junk food. These behaviors happen, but dwelling on them does nothing. We’re all human and no one expects those around them to be perfect. Likewise, a person shouldn’t expect themselves to have perfect eating habits every day.
Finding ways to eat healthier and exercise is not difficult; although, implementing these habits can be trickier. This fact is, especially, true if people had poor diets and (or) were suffering from substance abuse.
However, former addicts and all people can consider incorporating a few of these steps into their diets little by little. Creating a healthy diet and exercise plan that works for overtime, is key. In general, those who focus on eating healthier diets and on increasing their physical activity, maintain their sobriety; they improve their health as a whole.
Benefits of vegetables: Better Health Channel, Victoria State Government, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/fruit-and-vegetables
Exercise, endorphins, and addiction: “Exercise and Depression,” WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression
Sugar, drugs, and alcohol: Jeffrey L. Fortuna, “Sweet Preference, Sugar Addiction and the Familial History of Alcohol Dependence: Shared Neural Pathways and Genes,” posted on PubMed.gov, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20648910
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