If you have been addicted to toxic substances such as alcohol or drugs, that lifestyle can end up drastically damaging both your short-term and long-term health. Many addicts do not eat nutritious food, and the vitamins and minerals from any food they do eat are often not properly absorbed.
Once you’ve started detoxifying from substances, consuming certain foods can help your body and mind to heal in the best way possible. Particular foods are able to repair physical damage, lift your mood and ease cravings.
1. Whey to Heal
If you’re beginning a detox, the act of eating can put your body under extra stress because your central nervous system has been damaged. Most addicts initially feel queasy at the thought of food when they are withdrawing from alcohol or drugs.
A good way to reintroduce food and calm the central nervous system at the same time is to consume whey. Not only is it easy to eat, but whey contains many healing amino acids, such as L-tryptophan and L-glutamine, which help the body to produce chemicals to repair and nourish your nervous system.
2. Magnificent Milk
Achieving a good night’s sleep is often a challenge while detoxing from alcohol or drugs. Sleep is vital for healing the body and mind, so it’s essential to get regular shut-eye. A small bedtime snack containing dairy products could help you get some rest more easily.
Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which helps produce the sleep-aiding chemical melatonin, and calcium, which relaxes the nerves and muscles. A glass of milk or a serving of yogurt an hour before bed can get your body prepared for sleep. Adding a little carbohydrate to your bedtime snack, such as a handful of oats, crackers or rice cakes, can help tryptophan to work more effectively.
3. Pork and Beans
This classic Southern dish offers a huge dose of one of the most essential vitamins for effective brain function and neurological health. Thiamine, or Vitamin B1, is so important for the body that it is included in the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. B1 deficiency is common in alcoholics. In cases of severe, chronic deficiency, it can cause brain damage.
One lean pork chop contains about 67% of the government’s recommended daily value (DV) intake of thiamine, while a cup of navy beans contains 29%. For vegetarians, there are plenty of ways to get a healthy amount of thiamine. Unrefined foods containing yeast are concentrated sources of B1. A whole-wheat bagel for breakfast gives you 26% of your DV. Seeds and nuts are also good, with macadamia nuts containing 62% DV per cup and sunflower seeds providing 45%.
4. Broccoli Booster
Substance abuse can ravage the liver through damage caused by either alcoholic cirrhosis or hepatitis, which can be contracted by sharing needles or practicing unprotected sex. The liver needs to be functioning optimally in order to process the nutrients from food.
Foods that can help cleanse and repair the liver include broccoli, cabbage, kale and arugula. If you’re not a fan of greens, onions, garlic and shallots also have good liver-detoxifying properties. Teas made from dandelion root and milk thistle can heal the liver too.
5. Go Bananas
People who have abused alcohol or drugs are often low in both potassium and magnesium, electrolytes which regulate heartbeat, blood pressure, nerves and muscles. Deficiencies in both can cause weakness, confusion, fatigue and muscle cramps.
Bananas are an excellent source of both minerals, giving you a double dose of these vital electrolytes. Many fruits contain a good proportion of potassium and magnesium. Making a fruit salad out of oranges, kiwi, papaya, cantaloupes and peaches is a delicious way to get your minerals. If you prefer savory food, prepare a fresh salad with avocado, spinach and tomatoes.
6. Potato Power
Recovering alcoholics experience cravings to drink for several reasons. In early recovery, one of those reasons is that the body is used to being fed giant glasses of sugar. Alcohol breaks down into sugar, and afterward, blood glucose levels plummet. This is the reason why people in recovery often crave sweet snacks as well as alcohol.
One way to escape this cycle of rocketing and crashing blood sugar is to eat complex carbohydrates, which deliver glucose slowly, rather than refined carbohydrates, which give you a sugar bomb, then leave you craving more.
Potatoes and other vegetables are nutritious complex carbohydrates, full of fiber, which can help you fight cravings. If you must have something a little sweeter, choose fruit. Eat it in its whole form, rather than juicing it, to slow down its sugar release, or graze on low GI fruits like berries.
7. Fish Is Your Friend
In order to achieve lasting recovery, addicts must control the way they respond to stress and anxiety. Seafood is known to have a calming effect on the body, and it can help you feel more mentally resilient and stable.
The fatty acids in fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, known as Omega 3 oils, are effective at stabilizing mood and easing anxiety and depression. Most nutritionists recommend at least two servings of fish per week. If you dislike the taste of fish, there are many supplements on the market that contain fish oils.
8. Wonderful Water
Water is your best friend when it comes to detoxing your body from addictive substances. Water flushes toxins out and helps your organs work more effectively. So, along with your detox diet of healthy foods, be sure to drink at least a liter or two of water a day.
Add a sprig of mint if you don’t like plain water, or a twist of lemon, which is a natural cleanser. A cup of chamomile tea is also a great, calming way of getting your water intake.
In summary, there are many natural ways of getting your health back on track post-addiction. You can become fitter and happier by consuming good food and fluids as part of your well-rounded recovery effort.
Written By Beth Burgess