Eating Right Can Boost Your Health and Recovery

September 20, 2021

Eating Right in Recovery

Your Diet Affects Your Sobriety

It is easy to think of recovery from a substance use disorder in terms of what not to put in your body. It might seem that as long as you do not put drugs or alcohol in your body, you are doing everything right and all is well.

But as it would turn out, what you do put into your body can be extremely important in terms of helping you keep the drugs and alcohol out of your body. To put it more simply: Eating right can help you stay sober.

Let’s take a look at foods that support your overall physical and mental health—and in turn, your sobriety.

Start with Green and Lean

Leafy greens (arugula, spinach, kale, various lettuces) have great nutritional value and can help you feel full even though they do not have many calories. And of course, a whole range of other vegetables can be key ingredients in a healthy diet. Meanwhile, you want to choose lean proteins (chicken, fish, turkey, beans, nuts) on most days. For red meat lovers, the key is moderation. For vegetarians and vegans, the key is being intentional about getting the protein your body needs from plant-based sources.

Focus on Fruits and (Good) Fats

Fruit is full of nutrition—and the fact that you can eat fruit raw makes it easy to slip into your diet more regularly. And with so many fruits to choose from, you should be able to find one or more you truly enjoy. In addition, you want to focus on foods with good fat, which is essential to good health because it binds with nutrients and also helps repair damaged tissue by providing Omega fatty acids. You can find good fats in eggs, avocados, fish, and dark chocolate. Avoiding processed food when possible will help keep good fats forward in your diet.

Keep Things Complex and Whole

Complex carbohydrates provide energy to the body and are far better for you than simple carbs. So, you want to focus on brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice or potatoes without their skins. Whole grains are similarly preferable, meaning you want to choose whole wheat over white for your breads and pastas. Unrefined sugar and flour are preferable to their refined versions when it comes to keeping you healthy.

Wet Your Whistle With Water

When it comes to beverages, your best bet is keeping things simple—and keeping yourself hydrated—with water. Free from sugar and caffeine (both of which can be problematic for those in recovery), water provides your body with what it needs to function well. Green, white, and herbal teas can also be good options because these beverages provide health benefits without high amounts of caffeine.

Eating Right Does Not Have to be a Chore

You may have read to this point and concluded that in order to avoid an increased risk of relapse, you have to give up everything you enjoy eating. But that is not our message at all.

While it is important to retool your diet so that it includes more healthy foods that you consume more often, you can still enjoy your favorites—even your less-than-healthy favorites—in moderation. And you might find that if you adopt an adventuresome attitude toward eating, you will find it surprisingly easy to eat more healthily. The key is often a willingness to try new dishes and unfamiliar cuisines so that you can find nutritious options that are also delicious options. Eating a balanced diet does not mean gnawing on raw carrots while looking longingly at a pizza. Instead, it means finding foods you truly enjoy that also provide the benefits noted above—including providing strong support for your sobriety.

We Have a Recipe for Reclaiming Your Sobriety

If you are in the grips of a substance use disorder, eating well probably is not at the forefront of your mind. We understand—and we are ready to help. At the Farley Center, we provide personalized, evidence-based, compassionate care that will see you through detox and rehab and then provide a continuum of care to support you during the early days of recovery.

We are able to address co-occurring mental health disorders that may be contributing to (or may have been worsened by) your substance use disorder, and we provide tools and strategies (like, say, eating a healthy, balanced diet) for staying sober. We can help you reclaim and maintain your sobriety—and that will help you reclaim your life and move forward with confidence.