Now that you’ve gone through the tumultuous journey of a long-term rehabilitation, it’s time to begin a new healthy, nutritious life in recovery. Although the burden of a new transition seems to be buried in the past, along with the substances that once controlled your life, the recovery phase is an ongoing process based on the decision to remain abstinent from drug abuse.
An important way to recover your mind, body, and soul from an addiction is to lead a healthy, active life. Nutrition in recovery is important because it purges your body from the residue of a toxic addiction, and it boosts endorphins that are responsible for positive emotions and self-esteem—similar to the effects of morphine.
So, if you are new to the recovery phase or looking for alternative ways to remain sober, here are five ways you can implement nutrition and exercise into your daily life.
As cliché and overrated the phrase may be, staying hydrated with the right amount of water is quintessential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. According to WebMd, drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids. Since our bodies are composed of about 60 percent water, getting the right amount of water—between eight cups to a gallon or more, depending on daily activity—is beneficial for functions of the body including digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of saliva, and maintenance of body temperatures.
“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of those are essential daily to replace large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, in the WebMd article, “6 Reasons to Drink Water.”
In relation to recovery, staying hydrated is the foundation for nutrition. Those who suffered from an alcohol use disorder may have problems with hydration since alcohol decreases the body’s anti-diuretic hormone, reabsorbing the body’s water, according to Gastrolyte. Binge drinking on alcohol can lead to vomiting, which also depletes the body of water. In this case, a person can become at risk for alcohol poisoning, which can lead to death.
Therefore, drinking plenty of water in recovery can help regulate and restore bodily functions, such as the digestion system.
Antioxidants can be found in fruits, veggies, coffee, tea, and chocolate. They are responsible for protecting cells and fighting off free radicals or oxidants that can cause cancer, diabetes, or vision loss. Antioxidants not only promote good nutrition, but it affects different functions of the body, depending on the source of the antioxidant. For instance, chocolate carries an antioxidant known as flavanols, which is beneficial for heart health.
Implementing antioxidants are recommended for recovering addicts, who may have destroyed their bodily functions from the toxins of substances and alcohol. After the detox stage, clients may be malnourished or lacking the necessary antioxidants to sustain a long and healthy lifestyle.
Fortunately, our bodies can be forgiving if we begin to feed them properly. Making sure not to indulge in too many antioxidants; the right amount will create the right balance between oxidants and antioxidants in the body.
According to Diane McKay, PhD, an assistant professor and researcher at Tufts University’s Antioxidants Research Library, spices are also a good source for the right amount of antioxidants.
But doctors warn those looking to boost their antioxidant intake against supplements. Many antioxidant supplements have adverse effects on diabetes and cancer.
According to an article The New York Times, “Study of Organic Crops Finds Fewer Pesticides and More Antioxidants,” a study by the National Institutes of Health found that organic crops contained 17 percent more antioxidants than conventional crops. The study also found that flavanones were 69 percent higher in organic crops as well.
Increase fat intake
This may seem like a “huh?” moment of confusion and contradiction, but the right amount of dietary fats are vital for good nutrition. According to Better Health, there are four groups of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans. Saturated and trans fats actually contribute to heart disease, obesity, and stroke and can be found in processed foods, such as dairy, pastries, and chips.
Therefore, someone looking to jump-start their nutrition and fuel their body with the right nutrition should steer clear from these types of fats. But, unsaturated fats, which are naturally found in nuts, avocados, fish oils, and olives, can lower cholesterol levels, keep the heart beating normally, support the immune system, and contribute to normal brain development.
Many treatment centers will implement meal plans for their clients to provide them with a healthy ratio of fats, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Contrary to popular beliefs in the age of fad diets, fats can improve the health of a recovering addict suffering from some type of nutrition deficiency.
According to “Ten Amazing Benefits of Eating Fats” by Poliquin Group, “good” or unsaturated fats can help with body composition, build muscle, fat loss, better reproductive health, and depression.
Exercise is the perfect complement to good nutrition. It is also a healthy alternative for recovering addicts who may need an activity to help with their urges or cravings. Staying active keeps off excess weight, boosts mental health, and alleviates stress.
If recovering addicts find themselves in a stressful situation, they may immediately think about a substance to soothe their behavior. But exercise can provide that mental relief and stability to keep a recovering addict on the right track of drug abstinence.
In a Chicago Tribune article titled, “Exercise: Alternative reward for those battling addiction,” Matt Boston of Sylvania, Ohio, said he used running to defeat his alcohol addiction. After driving home inebriated one December, Boston decided to seek help for his addiction.
Exercise is so instrumental in the recovery of many former addicts because it has a powerful impact on the withdrawal process. To give you a better glimpse of what staying active does for the client, exercise works as a brain reward, which is similar to the rewarding feeling felt by euphoric substances. It substitutes the consumption of opiates or other drugs by producing dopamine, which promotes self-esteem, resilience, and optimum health.
Learn to cook
Since many clients start their substance abuse during their adolescence, they may not have developed proper eating habits into their adulthoods. Learning how to cook ensures that someone in recovery is eating properly, and it encourages a new behavioral method to stay clean from drug abuse. Cooking doesn’t come as natural as our other instincts, but many treatment centers offer cooking classes to teach its clients new hobbies.
Also, cooking is the foundation for a nutritious, well-rounded diet. By cooking organic and fresh foods, a recovering addict takes the initiative and controls what is going into their bodies. This is important because packaged, processed foods contain high amounts of sodium, sugar, and saturated fats, which will only worsen any intestinal damage caused by substance abuse.
If someone finds it difficult to cook three meals a day without any assistance, then starting off with semi-homemade meals can make the transition to full-cooked meals easier.
For example: Instead of ordering a greasy pizza from a local pizza parlor, one can buy a whole wheat pizza crust from the bakery section at their local grocery store and add organic tomato sauce and an array of colorful vegetable toppings, such as spinach, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Pop the pizza into a preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes and voilà. A simple, nutritious, and tasty dinner is served and can be stored for the following day.
Staying in recovery isn’t an easy way of life. It takes the full participation of the recovering addict to decide they are going to stay in recovery every day. Implementing a good balance between nutrition and exercise is just one of the ways that will make one’s recovery beneficial and long-lasting.
At Ocean Breeze Recovery, we care about the wellness and nutrition of our clients, so call us today to find out more about our treatment program and what we have to offer. If you, or a loved one, is suffering from an addiction or need extra support in recovery call our 24-7 specialists today at 877-798-4613.
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