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What to Eat During Recovery: Regaining Energy and Health Through Nutrition

Healthy foodEnough can’t be said about the importance of good nutrition to an effective and long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Like a good night’s sleep, eating the right foods in the right amounts can set the tone for your entire day, allowing you to let the little things go and handle the big things without risk of relapse.

Benefits of Good Nutrition During Drug Addiction Recovery

The following are just a few of the good things that you can get from doing something as simple as eating right:

  • Enough energy to get through the day without feeling tired or worn down
  • Lower cravings for alcohol and drugs
  • Better quality of sleep and length of good sleep
  • Increased ability to concentrate and focus
  • Lower anxiety and depression related to withdrawal symptoms and the transition that occurs during first year of life after addiction
  • Get weight gain (common in recovery) under control
  • Get your gastrointestinal system, chemical production and metabolism back on track (these often get out of balance during drug and alcohol addiction)

How to Get Good Nutrition During Drug Addiction Recovery

Learning how to eat healthfully and maintaining a balanced diet is hard for people who haven’t spent a large amount of time living with an addiction. It’s even more difficult when your main focus is filling your time in a positive way. It can be challenging to work to avoid relapse while also securing a new job, finding a supportive place to live and maintaining your ongoing treatment plan, which can mean therapy appointments, 12-step meetings and more. The following are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Eat breakfast – Even if it’s small, you need something to kick start your metabolism and get you through the first part of your day. A hardboiled egg, a piece of whole grain toast or a small cup of juice are all good options—just try to avoid sugary pastries and high-fat meats or breakfast sandwiches.
  • Eat 5-6 small meals – Rather than the typical three-meal schedule with large meals every time you sit down, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a morning and at least one afternoon snack, but keep everything small, about 300 calories each for women and 400-500 calories each for men. It will help maintain your metabolism and avoid overeating in any one sitting.
  • Eat from all food groups – In general, it is recommended to eat six to 11 servings of whole grains, two to four servings of fruit, three to five servings of vegetables, two to three servings of lean proteins like eggs or chicken, two to three servings of dairy products and a single serving of good fats like oils and butter.[1]
  • Pay attention to serving size – One piece of bread is a grain serving. One sandwich, therefore, has two servings of grain. A serving of rice or pasta is about what will fit in the palm of your hand, not on a dinner-sized plate. Try to use smaller plates and bowls and limit juice and other drinks to eight ounces rather than oversized fast food sizes to limit extra calories.
  • Drink tons of water – Always carry a bottle of water with you and try to refill it six to eight times a day depending on its size. This will help you process the food you’re eating, get more nutrients out of that food and maintain your energy level.[2]

If you or someone you love is fighting addiction and would like help with nutrition, please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. Our knowledgeable admissions counselors are ready to help connect you to the best treatment available to you. Please call today.