Substance abuse has tremendous impacts on an addict’s body. One area that is often overlooked in addiction treatment is the nutritional effects of drug and alcohol addiction. Chronic substance use depletes the body of valuable nutrients that help optimize body function. Nutritional therapy in rehab helps newly recovering addicts regain health and improve focus in recovery. Along with 12-step support, life skills training, and other interventions, nutritional therapy is an essential part of an addict’s individual treatment plan.
Nutritional interventions in recovery focus more on just eating right. The objective of nutritional counseling is to help addicts understand the importance of diet in one’s overall health. By learning healthy ways to eat, addicts will experience lifelong vitality and health. As a result, those in recovery feel confident and empowered — which decreases the risk of relapse.
The following article outlines six ways nutritional therapy works in drug rehab. If you want to learn how proper nutrition can help you in your recovery, call Bridges of Hope toll-free today.
The Ways Nutrition Therapy Aids Your Recovery
1. You Work with Doctors to Determine Overall Health
Developing a nutrition therapy plan first starts with an overall assessment of your health. When you first enter treatment, an experienced physician will review your overall wellness. The focus centers on the specific physical effects that substance abuse has had on your life. This may include significant weight gain or losses due to drug use, or any co-occurring mental or eating disorders that may impact your recovery.
This comprehensive evaluation is the basis of your overall drug treatment plan. Additionally, this plan also considers any medications that you will be taking during detox and throughout your treatment stay. Once completed, this initial plan is given to a nutritionist for the next phase.
2. Nutritional Therapy Helps with the Detoxification Process
Nutritional therapy is of tremendous help during the detoxification process. When substances leave your body, your appetite returns. As a result, you can experience significant weight gain. While an increased appetite is a good sign, eating the wrong foods can increase the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. There are also cases where newly recovering addicts struggle to eat during drug detoxification.
Nutritional therapy in drug treatment helps you to restore a healthy balance to your diet. Having a structured meal plan with the right nutrients will help minimize the pain and discomfort associated with withdrawals. Additionally, with an assessment of your overall health, an in-house nutritionist will help identify your specific needs.
3. You Work with a Nutritionist to Develop Your Dietary Blueprint
When the nutritionist receives the notes from the initial evaluation, this information is analyzed to determine your nutritional needs. In developing a nutritional therapy plan, your nutritionist will analyze where you are deficient in your vitamin and mineral intake. Additionally, the nutritionist will assess your stress levels as your body adjusts to sobriety. With this information, a dietary plan is created that will help you replenish your nutrient levels and help restore optimal body functioning.
4. You Learn to Develop a Meal Plan
Another way that nutritional therapy works for you is that you will work with a nutritionist in developing a meal plan tailored to meet your unique needs. This involves meal planning and making sure you create an eating schedule that fits your overall treatment plan. This may include eating smaller meals several times daily and having designated snack times.
A solid nutritional therapy plan will help you to avoid substituting food for your substance of choice. Nutritional therapy will help you learn to eat for overall health and not to fill emotional voids in your life. When integrated into your treatment regimen, nutritional rehab helps bolster your ability to avoid responding to triggers and cravings that can lead to relapse.
5. You Learn to Set Goals
Nutritional therapy in drug treatment also focuses on realistic goal setting. When you work with a nutritionist, you focus on the behaviors needed to achieve the desired dietary change. These changes center on overall wellness and not on achieving a certain body weight. These goals may be as simple as increasing the number of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains you consume daily. By keeping your goals simple and realistic, you are better able to institute positive behaviors that will help you keep at a healthy weight while keeping your recovery at the forefront.
6. You Will Get Support
As with drug treatment in general, nutritional therapy is most effective when family and loved ones are involved in the process. Many nutritional rehab programs are part of family therapy programs. Although you are responsible for your food choices, having the support of family and friends helps increase the chances of long-term success.
A key component of nutritional therapy in this setting is understanding the barriers that provide obstacles to change. While a nutritional therapy plan looks great on paper, there are real-life distractions that can make implementing this plan difficult. These barriers to change can include the following:
- social gatherings
- food preferences
- lack of knowledge or time
By working with a nutritional counselor in drug rehab, you can identify your stressors and create ways to combat those stressors. Additionally, family and friends can be made aware of those challenges and can help provide meaningful support to decrease the risk of not following through with your plan.
Foods That Can Help You Recover From Addiction
Many foods can help provide the nutrients your body needs to heal and feel better as you recover from addiction, including:
- Fruits and vegetables. They have the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals your body needs.
- Protein such as chicken, turkey, eggs, or nuts. Protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer and can help reduce cravings.
- High-fat healthy foods such as nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. These foods will help keep your blood sugar levels stable, making you less likely to experience mood swings or cravings for unhealthy substances.
- Antioxidant-rich foods such as berries and leafy green vegetables. These foods fight off inflammation in the body and help combat illness and disease. Other antioxidant-rich foods include turmeric, salmon, dark chocolate, and black chia seeds.
- Folate-rich foods. This type of vitamin B helps produce natural levels of dopamine. You can find folate in lentils, leafy greens, and cantaloupes.
- Magnesium-rich foods such as almonds, cashews, bananas, and beans. A magnesium deficiency can hurt the bacteria in your gut, increasing your risk of developing depression and anxiety.
- Brain-boosting foods like blueberries, green tea, dark chocolate, and eggs. These foods can help increase your mental clarity, mood, memory, and ability to focus. Try adding oranges, leafy greens, avocados, flax seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and whole grains into your diet.
You should also:
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a big contributor to addiction relapse.
- Avoid overeating sugar or carbs. They can increase your cravings for drugs or alcohol.
- Get plenty of rest. When your body is well-rested, you can better handle stress and resist cravings for addictive substances.
Following these simple guidelines will help your body heal as you recover.
Better Health is a Phone Call Away
Your drug addiction must be addressed on multiple fronts. While nutritional therapy is not often thought of as a priority, it is essential in helping you build your health and your long-term recovery. Nutritional therapy is an essential key to the treatment services offered at Bridges of Hope. Our certified medical and dietary teams will do a thorough evaluation of your overall health needs and design a dietary plan that will restore and rejuvenate you.
Call Bridges of Hope today to learn more about the benefits of nutritional therapy in your recovery.