7 Best Things to Improve Your Nutrition Today
In this article, I share my top 7 tips on improving your nutrition in addiction recovery.
These simple, yet effective changes can help to put you on the path to a healthier recovery from addiction.
When looking to improve nutrition for a healthier body and mind, it can be difficult to know where and how to start. This is where my 7 top tips can help!
With so many ‘fad’ diets on the market, it can be easy to fall into a trap of putting yourself on a dietary nutrition plan. That's not what we are talking about here. In naturopathy, we try to avoid the term diet (unless referring to balance) as it generally means some kind of deprivation.
The last thing your body (or indeed your mind) needs in addiction recovery is to feel further deprived. Instead, we are going to look at the 7 best things you can do to improve your nutrition, to help get you feeling healthier and stronger in your addiction recovery.
Keep nutrition in addiction recovery simple & effective
When trying to change how, where, and when you eat, as well as your overall relationship with food, it is helpful to take simple, yet impactful steps.
Ok, so you may not see the results within one day. This is where patience with the process is crucial to remain motivated and committed. It is all a process.
However, the 7 things I am going to suggest to help improve your nutrition will show their benefits soon enough. These nutritional hacks are also, very importantly, sustainable.
Listen to your body and mind when making nutritional change
You can start all 7 of the nutritional changes I am suggesting today. This will result in the most nutritional impact on your addiction recovery. However, if this prospect feels overwhelming, don't let this put you off. You do what works for you!
If you wish, you can introduce one at a time, or, make a plan to integrate a few, or all 7.
Everyone is different, so listen to your body and mind. Even if you manage to incorporate just one of these nutritional benefits, you are making good progress!
Remember to be patient with yourself. As with most things in addiction recovery, it can take time to adjust, and nutrition is no different. Whilst some tips such as staying well hydrated can make an immediate impact on your well-being, others such as eating good quality proteins and fats may take longer.
The 7 best things you can do to improve your nutrition in addiction recovery today
As a Naturopathic Doctor, the following are my 7 best nutritional tips that will lead to better overall health and wellbeing
1. Eat a rainbow variety of fruits and vegetables
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to prevent many chronic diseases as well as to facilitate healing within the body.
Recently there has been a growing trend in ‘fruit fear’. Many people associate fruit sugar (fructose) with other refined sugars. This is a mistake, fruit in its whole form, with its water and fibre-rich pulp, is ideal for good health and your nutritional intake in addiction recovery.
There is a good reason it is recommended you eat 5 a day of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are nourishing and full of essential vitamins and fibre. They are also low in fats and are essential for a healthy balanced diet.
Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables is an easy way of boosting your nutritional intake in addiction recovery.
2. Reduce or eliminate processed foods
Processed foods such as canned foods, cured meats and fast foods have high levels of salts, additives and preservatives. This can add an additional layer of health complications as your body struggles to process these.
Especially in times of recovery, it is important not to burden our body’s any further. Therefore, a diet rich in whole foods is highly recommended.
Whole foods help to improve nutrition in addiction recovery and keep unwanted toxic chemicals to a minimum.
Whole foods include:
- Unsalted nuts - (cashews, peanuts, Brazil nuts etc )
- Seeds - (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds etc)
- Grains - (wholegrain rice, rolled oats, barley, wheat etc)
- Fruits - (apples, pears, oranges, watermelon, blueberries etc)
- Vegetables - (broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, potatoes etc)
- Beans & legumes - (kidney beans, lentils, chick peas & lima beans etc)
3. Include foods that support blood sugar control
When you consume refined sugars, refined grains and simple carbohydrates, they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This can result in spikes in blood sugar.
Spikes in your blood sugar levels trigger insulin to be secreted. Consistent consumption of simple carbs and refined sugars will eventually result in poor blood sugar regulation.
Ultimately, irregular blood sugar levels can lead to obesity and the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
You can improve your nutrition in addiction recovery by including more fibre-rich foods. Foods such as unrefined grains, root vegetables and water filled fruits are great for regulating blood sugar levels. Keeping blood sugar levels healthily regulated helps with energy and concentration levels also.
4. Reduce your intake of animal products to improve your nutrition
As a naturopath, I am not against eating meat but it is important nowadays to focus on good quality meat. Organic and grass meats offer the full benefits and protein content that meat should provide.
Meat in Eastern Medicine is considered ‘blood-building’. Although there are many that might disagree, consuming meat can go a long way in strengthening and nourishing your blood. Good quality meat can therefore be an effective food to help you on your journey of healing.
If you are not averse to trying tofu instead of meat, then this is a wonderful healing plant-based product. Low in fat and high in protein, Tofu is easy on a recovering digestive system and kind to the liver. Adding some plant-based foods to your diet could really boost your nutrition in addiction recovery.
5. Consume the right type of fats (good fats)
Heart disease is often linked to a diet that is high in saturated fats, trans fatty acids and bad cholesterol. However, before you assume that all fats are bad, a certain amount of fats are needed in order to maintain a healthy body and mind. This is where introducing good fats into your nutrition can assist in your overall recovery.
Fats that are good for us are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats enable our bodily systems to operate optimally.
Foods that contain healthy fatty acids include avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and sustainably caught fatty fish. The best fish for healthy fats are oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and trout.
Adding healthful fats to your diet will improve your overall nutrition without putting you at increased risk of heart disease.
6. Drink sufficient water - The forgotten ‘nutrient’
Water is imperative for life. It is essential to keep your water intake up on a daily basis, especially when undergoing detoxification and during early recovery.
Drinking more water is the best thing you can do to improve your nutrition in addiction recovery. It is a very simple step that packs one hell of a nutritional punch. You may well think that water has no nutritional value, and you would be right. However, water is essential in helping us to absorb and transport vitamins around the body.
During periods of acute detoxification, the body needs water more than ever to help it to eliminate toxins. During the early days of recovery, your body will naturally be in a dehydrated state. Drinking plenty of fresh water will help to redress the imbalance and help every system in your body to function better.
Even mild dehydration can lead to physiological imbalances in our bodies.
Over time, mild dehydration can lead to:
- Skin issues
- Urinary infections
Many minerals and vitamins are water soluble and are easily absorbed if our bodies are well hydrated.
Water is of course a vital component of blood and our blood and essential for transporting chemicals and nutrients. Our blood is made up of 92% water, 8% blood plasma proteins, and trace amounts of other materials. The water content of your blood can fall when you are not well hydrated. This can then have a detrimental impact on our overall well being and function.
For maximum nutritional benefits, filtered or well sourced bottled water is recommended.
7. Supplement your nutrition
The supplementation of vitamins and minerals has become a regular part of our lives as we try to consume a healthy and balanced diet. With so many nutrients needed in order for our body’s to perform at their optimal best, it can be a concern as to whether or not we are getting enough.
During early recovery from addiction, the body is naturally in a deficient state of so many things. This is where supplementation can be really helpful, especially if your focus is on recovery and not on what you are eating. For some people in early recovery it can take a while for their metabolism to settle and for a healthy appetite to return.
At the start of the detoxification or early recovery process it is always a good idea to get your bloods checked for any major deficiencies. Anyone recovering from an alcohol problem will need to ensure they take good quality and high strength vitamin B supplements.
Alcohol stops B vitamins from being properly absorbed and draws on the body's own reserves. Hence the majority of alcoholics will be B vitamin deficient on coming into recovery.
Other substances can cause people to skip meals altogether or opt for poor nutrition when they do actually eat. A good quality multivitamin can go a long way in helping to redress the balance of vitamins in the body, ensuring you are getting the right amounts.
On the subject of supplementation, supplements are just that, they are designed to supplement an already nutritious diet plan. They are not designed to replace it.
Nutrition is an important part of the recovery process
Nutrition is often underestimated for its ability to deliver natural and effective healing to the body and the mind. I would therefore encourage you to incorporate as many of my top 7 nutritional tips as possible, especially if you are feeling run down or under the weather.
Natural food sources are the best way to get a full spectrum of nutrients into your body quickly. At the same time they provide a vital energy source and assist in the healing process.
Whether you are in early recovery or many years into your recovery, it is never too late to start making good and healthy nutritional choices. Your nutrition has the ability to transform your health, alongside other natural remedies such as exercise, meditation and good quality sleep.
Good nutrition in addiction recovery will not only support you in feeling better, but will also have you thinking better. It is an essential part of self-care that can easily be overlooked. You can access many nutritional tips and recipes by subscribing to our Wellness hub. Our unique hub is run by professionals and dedicated to improving your wellbeing
Authors - Debbie/Sammi
Nutrition in addiction recovery: The effects of the addiction diet
- Blood - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood
- Water and nutrition - https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks.html