Nutritional wellness is important for those recovering from alcoholism or addiction. Many don’t realize the toll that an unhealthy body can have on their mind and their quality of life. Wellness for recovering addicts means something entirely different than your average person. Its deeper meaning focuses on physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing to stay sober and clean. Physical wellness and nutrition for recovering alcoholics are crucial to the journey towards sobriety.
It has been proven time and time again that a healthy body and mind can make the difference when it comes to staying clean and avoiding relapses. This means getting the necessary vitamins and nutrients the body needs. This also includes physical exercise and eating healthy in the process. Nutrition for recovering alcoholics and addicts is necessary to stay on the right track after treatment.
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What Does Nutritional Wellness Mean?
Nutritional wellness refers to how well the body is getting the necessary nutrients to function properly. This means absorbing the right nutrients and minerals your body needs. Not getting these nutrients can mean a variety of negative things for your body and mind. This is especially true for those recovering from drug or alcohol addiction.
Not getting the proper amount of vitamins or minerals in the body can end up causing a domino effect of problems. Nutrients fuel the body, provide energy and help enhance recovery. Without the proper vitamins and minerals, a person will run into several problems (loss of energy, poor mental state, poor overall health, etc.)
How Does Alcohol Affect the Body’s Nutrients?
Many people don’t realize how much alcohol and drugs impact the body’s regular functions. For starters, those who abuse alcohol or drugs tend to eat less – which means they don’t get the right amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals. To make matters worse, alcohol negatively affects how the body excretes, stores, and digests nutrients.
So not only do heavy drinkers not eat enough nutrients but their bodies don’t truly utilize the vitamins and minerals they do consume. This inevitably leads to a person being malnourished, which can end up landing them in the hospital if the drinking/drug use continues without treatment. This typically occurs when a person becomes severely malnourished. This is why it’s important to maintain healthy nutrition for recovering alcoholics after treatment has ended.
When looking closely at vitamins, those struggling with alcohol use disorder end up experiencing both vitamin and mineral deficiencies. B vitamins in particular are important for converting food into energy in the body. Alcohol use can end up affecting how your body absorbs these nutrients. B vitamins include milk, eggs, greens, beans, whole grain, and other foods.
The Effects of a Poor Diet and Addiction
Eating unhealthy or carelessly is common in those struggling with addiction. Continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol just continues to make the situation worse. As mentioned, alcohol causes a lack of vitamins and minerals in the body. In turn, begins to react in many negative ways. These include:
- Depression or anxiety
- Muscle degeneration
- Problems with heart rate
- Vitamin deficiencies
- An imbalance in electrolytes
- Trouble focusing or staying energized
This list is just some of the many negative effects a poor diet and lack of nutrition can have on a person’s body. This is why it’s crucial to practice healthy habits and nutrition for recovering alcoholics.
Common Vitamin Deficiencies in Alcoholics and Addicts
Vitamins play a major role in the body and the mind as well. Vitamins are essential for continuous growth and practice a healthy level of metabolism. When a person drinks a lot frequently, their body will end up being impaired (specifically how it absorbs, metabolizes, and uses vitamins). Alcohol has been shown to cause vitamin A, C, D, E, K, and B vitamins among others.
Let’s take a look at a few foods that can help increase these different vitamin groups:
- Vitamin A – Found in fortified cereals, carrots, fish, milk, cantaloupe, and other foods
- Vitamin D – Found in red meat, oily fish, egg yolks, and breakfast cereals
- Vitamin C – Found in strawberries, potatoes, oranges, and other citrus fruits
- Vitamin E – Found in sunflower seeds, peanuts/peanut butter, geet greens, and almonds
- Vitamin K – Found in many green leafy vegetables, parsley, lettuce, broccoli, kale, and spinach
- B Vitamins – These can be found in cereals, legumes, dairy products, and seafood
Common Mineral Deficiencies in Alcoholics and Addicts
Minerals are also crucial nutrients for recovering alcoholics. It is no surprise that alcohol use also causes problems with calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium deficiency. Alcohol itself may not cause this lack of mineral absorption but the alcohol-related problems will. To put this in perspective, let’s look at how alcohol’s effects can end up causing mineral deficiency:
- Calcium deficiency can be caused by fat malabsorption
- Iron deficiency can be caused by inner gastrointestinal bleeding
- Zinc deficiency can be a result of other nutrient problems
- Magnesium deficiency can be caused by a poor diet and also vomiting or diarrhea
Dealing with mineral or vitamin deficiency is crucial to staying sober and living a better life. Alcohol also ends up causing many other effects such as liver disease, brain damage, heart problems, and other physical effects. This is why it’s crucial to focus on nutrition for recovering alcoholics as well as a healthy lifestyle.
How Does Nutritional Wellness Impact Addiction Recovery and Mental Health?
There is a strong connection between a person’s physical health and mental state. Having a poor diet and suffering from nutrient deficiency can end up taking a major toll on your body and mind. During early recovery, a person may not even be thinking about what they are eating or drinking. As simple as it may sound, many people fail to get the proper amount of vitamins, proteins, and minerals in their bodies.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to keeping the body healthy, functional, and full of energy. Without it, you can begin to feel the many effects of this deficiency. Nutrition for recovering alcoholics is important because it allows a person to live a healthy and productive lifestyle. By keeping a balanced diet, their mind, body, and even spirit can remain in a positive and effective state. Many other lifestyle changes are recommended for those recovering from addiction as well.
The Benefits of Nutritional Wellness During Recovery
Let’s take a look at some of the positive effects that proper nutrition can have on a person’s wellbeing and overall health during recovery. Having a healthy mind and body is necessary to stay clean and sober for years to come. ‘Eating healthy’ may sound easier said than done but with the proper routine and balance, it is achievable and possible.
Some of the great benefits of nutrition and a healthy body include:
- Increase of energy daily
- Better hydration
- Improved organ functions
- A healthy level of electrolytes
- Proper blood sugar levels
Some of the mental and psychological benefits include:
- Improved concentration and focus
- A higher level of dopamine and serotonin
- Decreases risk of relapse
- Helps regulate drug/alcohol cravings
- Less irritability and improved mood
Avoiding Relapse During Recovery
There are many crucial steps to avoiding relapse during recovery (after withdrawals have passed), one of which is making sure you are practicing nutritional wellness. Relapse occurs when a person goes back to using drugs after treatment. Unfortunately, this is a common sight for many people recovering from addiction, especially during early recovery. The main goal during these stages of recovery is to make sure you do everything you can to avoid relapsing and falling back into old habits.
Practicing nutritional wellness and making other positive lifestyle changes may be what’s needed to keep you sober and happy. Nutrition for recovering alcoholics involves sticking with a balanced diet and getting the proper minerals and vitamins necessary. While alcohol may have had its effects on a person’s body, it is not too late to make positive changes.
Tips for Practicing Nutritional Wellness
There are many different foods and diets you can try to stay healthy and energized daily. Nutrition for recovering alcoholics and addicts is achievable through a proper and structured diet. Consider following these guidelines to make sure you are eating right during recovery:
- Be consistent with your meal routine and stick to it
- Stick to foods with low fat
- Focus on foods with high protein, dietary fiber, and protein
- Focus on getting enough vitamins and minerals (consider supplements like Zinc or Vitamin A)
- Stay away from caffeine and tobacco
- Don’t forget to stay hydrated (drink lots of water every day)
- Eat snacks or meals with amino acids and carbohydrates
Start Your Journey Towards a Drug-Free Life Today
Practicing nutrition for recovering alcoholics is just one part of a bigger picture. Before recovery, you must first take the first steps towards treatment. Granite Mountain Behavioral Health offers some of the best in holistic and substance abuse treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, now is the time to get help. Contact us today to learn about our treatment programs and addiction resources.