While nutrition should always be top of mind for your recovery, March is a great month to put an even greater focus on the foods you’re eating. It’s National Nutrition Month, which was launched in 1973 by members of the American Dietetic Association (now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) to educate the public about the importance of nutrition.
Good nutrition is important for everyone — and it’s even more important for people recovering from a substance use disorder. For one, the right foods can help repair physical damage from alcohol or drug abuse. Eating healthy can also boost your immunity, balance your energy and your emotions, and keep cravings at bay.
Making Healthy Eating a Habit
A big part of staying sober is establishing a new lifestyle with healthy routines and fulfilling activities. Here’s a few suggestions to help you make healthy eating a habit that can work for you and your recovery:
- Establish an eating routine. It’s important to get into the habit of eating nutrient-packed meals at regular intervals. This should include breakfast, lunch, dinner and one or two healthful snacks per day to keep energy levels stable and prevent cravings.
- Avoid sugar. Consuming too much sugar can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to feeling anxious or depressed. What’s more, people in recovery often grapple with sugar cravings; sugar produces high surges of the “feel good” chemical dopamine. This can mimic the effects of addiction and create high tolerance and cravings for sugar. Note: Caffeine can cause a blood sugar crash, so slow down on the coffee, tea or soda as well.
- Go for easily digestible foods. Prolonged chronic drug abuse can lead to gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, nausea and constipation. To combat this, try to include easily digestible and high-fiber foods in your diet, such as oatmeal and brown rice.
- Add more fruits and vegetables. A recent study by researchers at the University of Leeds found a link between fruit and vegetable consumption and increased self-reported mental well-being and life satisfaction. And fruits and vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals — including vitamins A, C, E and K — that you’ll likely need to replenish due to your past addiction.
4 Ways to Up Your Veggie Intake
As part of the month-long celebration, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created a handy toolkit to help people make nutrition a priority in their lives. This includes a few easy strategies to sneak more fruits and veggies into your recovery diet:
- Whip up a breakfast smoothie. Add low-fat milk or almond milk, frozen strawberries, a banana and a handful of frozen spinach or kale.
- Skip the chips. Instead, crunch on some colorful veggies dipped in low-fat salad dressing or hummus. Prep some ready-to-eat favorites for the week: red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.
- Start with a salad. Make yourself a salad with lunch and dinner and add some color with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges.
- Add variety to pizza toppings. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.
Nutrition as Self-Care
Proper nutrition is a big part of self-care, which is essential for keeping your mind and body strong during recovery. Segue Recovery Support’s ongoing coaching services can ensure that self-care is part of your overall recovery and sober life. For more information about our services, contact a Recovery Specialist at 866-905-4550.