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Diet For Recovering Alcoholics

When most people think about alcohol recovery, they think about not putting alcohol in their body. Someone with a drinking problem needs to stop drinking before they can be sober, of course. Most treatment programs and alcoholism experts agree that the actual drinking is a symptom of the actual problem for alcoholics.

If you are reading this article, it’s likely that you are newly sober or you have a loved one that just started their own journey of alcohol recovery. Developing a new way to live without needing or drinking alcohol is maybe the hardest part. Living in recovery is like looking at an iceberg: the 10% you see is the not drinking part, but the other 90% is what you do that ensures you don’t relapse.

As you are sure to find out if you haven’t already, learning to live a more healthy life is imperative to a happy, and sober, life. It’s why most inpatient and IOP (intensive outpatient programs) focus on healthy eating.

This article will provide some information for better diet choices for recovering alcoholics. Of course, depending on where you are in recovery, some of these suggestions may be more or less pertinent for you. Those newer to recovery tend to eat more sweets than those who have been sober for years. Overall, though, these suggestions can help any recovering alcoholic who wants to improve their diet and overall wellbeing.

Stay Hydrated

Derek Zoolander once said, “Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” This quote from a ridiculous movie is nonsensical, but keeping the body hydrated is more important for health than beauty is for Zoolander.

Drink lots of water! Alcohol, by its nature, dehydrates the human body. The benefits of drinking plenty of water in recovery are seemingly infinite, but here are some of the most important reasons:

  • Hydration impacts brain function and cognitive ability
  • Improves energy and physical performance
  • Helps prevent headaches
  • Helps relieve constipation, diarrhea, and other stomach problems
  • Improves skin conditions
  • Helps with weight-loss

Limit Caffeine

It can be tempting to drink sodas, energy drinks, and coffee, mainly because coffee is a staple of AA meetings. While caffeine isn’t the worst thing for you, too much caffeine can dehydrate you and cause an increase in headaches. Also, sodas and energy drinks usually contain a lot of sugar (or sugar substitutes) that are harmful to your health. But caffeine does increase concentration and cognitive abilities. Just like any part of a diet, moderation is key (something recovering alcoholics are known to have trouble with).

Foods Rich with Folate

Folate, or Vitamin B9, promotes healthy cell division and overall health. Because it is a water-soluble nutrient, people who drink a lot of alcohol tend to have a folate-deficiency because their body cannot produce Folate to its active form.

Luckily, many foods are delicious, healthy, and folate-heavy. They include legumes, asparagus, eggs, leafy greens (kale, spinach, and arugula), beets, citrus fruit, brussels sprouts, broccoli, nuts, seeds, avocados, and bananas.

Crazy about Bananas!

Bananas are one of the most nutrient-rich foods there is. In addition to being a great source of folate and Vitamin A, bananas are one of the best sources for Potassium. Potassium is one of the minerals called “electrolytes.” Potassium helps maintain cell hydration and helps maintain a healthy, normal heart rate.

Potassium also helps rebuild the synapses in the brain, the same synapses that are damaged from alcohol addiction. Alcohol impairs the body’s ability to regenerate nerve cells in the brain. Potassium promotes healthy cell growth and synapses (electrical connections between brain cells).

Establish an Eating Routine

While it is important to eat good food, it is almost equally important to be mindful about when you eat. It should be no surprise people who have a drinking problem don’t practice the best nutrition. Eating irregular can cause low blood sugar levels, which has a direct effect on your mood. When newly sober people get anxious, angry, or irritated, these negative moods can make you crave alcohol or drugs. Eating regularly is vital to helps maintain mental well-being and limit moments of alcohol craving and obsession.

A good practice is to start your day with a healthy breakfast. This sets the stage for the rest of the day. Carry healthy snacks like fruits or nuts to eat between meals. Eating healthy snacks instead of candy or processed chips can help avoid the dreaded sugar crash, too.

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