Let’s talk about how to actually change your eating habits to live healthier, look greater, and feel “awesomer”. A big part of recovery from addiction involves taking care of your body. It’s the vehicle that transports your brain, so keep it in good working condition.
Eating healthier has benefits well beyond simple physical health. The right combination of nutrition and calories helps you think more clearly, regulates emotional swings, and invites better sleeping patterns.
Find someone else who’s in recovery to see if they want to start a nutrition action plan together. Hold each other accountable, and share ideas for success. Learn new meal ideas from someone who is also working a program of recovery from addiction. You’ll be able to help each other stay on track.
Change How You Eat
- Protein: Start eating leaner protein sources. You can still eat beef and have the occasional burger, just choose a less-fatty ground beef. Spend more time eating chicken, fish, and turkey, which have high protein content with less fat. For vegetarians, there are meat-replacement options which can make sure you get enough protein in your diet.
- Carbohydrates: Try switching from refined carbs to complex carbohydrates, which will typically have more fiber and break down more slowly in the body. Refined carbs are typically white foods (like white sugar and white bread) but complex carbs are darker, showing that the nutrients have not been stripped away. Fiber is an extremely important nutrient that will help with digestion and keep you feeling full. Eat whole and multi-grain breads, brown rice, quinoa, or other more complex carbs. If you enjoy fruits, enjoy, but be careful; the sugars can still produce a glycemic response. Fruits also have good fiber and help oxygenate the blood.
- Fats: Healthy fats are essential, so choosing the right fats is important. Add more nuts to your diet or add avocado to your meals. Avocado, while high in fat, is one of the healthiest fruits out there (yes, it’s a fruit!) Also, many types of fish, while low in overall fat content, have great amounts of essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3.
Track What You Eat
As you’re implementing your new nutrition plan, put it in writing and keep track of the food you eat to help monitor your nutritional intake. Create meal plans, and track how you are feeling (mood, energy level, and attitude). If something you’re eating isn’t making you feel quite right, tracking can be a good tool to figure out what isn’t working out for you.
If you’re not a paper-and-pen person, there are many apps which can assist you in tracking your diet. Apps like MyFitnessPal let you track your meals, view calorie intake, and breaks down the nutrition in your meals. This is a free app, and is available on iOS and Android. It can even be accessed from your computer.
Changing your nutrition will take time, but stick with it. It’s worth it and your body, your mind, and your recovery will definitely thank you.
Read more CeDAR Education Articles about Peer Support including Culture of Addiction vs. Culture of Recovery.