6 Steps to Kickstart Your Healthy-Eating Routine After a Drug Addiction

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Kickstart Your Healthy-Eating Routine After a Drug Addiction

Substance abuse has a significant impact on appetite. Whether you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, long-term, sustained use can curb feelings of hunger. Over time, this can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. 

Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, can be particularly damaging to a user’s appetite. These stimulants can suppress how much ghrelin the body produces. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells us when we’re hungry and full. Using stimulants might make you more likely to miss meals, leading to nutrient deficiency and weight loss. 

While many people regain their appetite after starting their sobriety journey or getting drug addiction help, knowing how to maintain a healthy diet is not always easy.  

This can be especially true if you’re starting from scratch with no prior nutritional knowledge. As overwhelming as it can be to establish a new eating routine, you might experience luck by taking some of the following steps: 

Step 1: Ask Your Rehab Facility Team for Advice

When you start exploring rehabs in Delray Beach or further afield, you’re looking for a facility to help you kickstart your sobriety journey. Don’t forget, rehab center specialists can do more than help you get sober. They can also help get your life back on track, starting with new routines. 

As you start your new sober journey, don’t be afraid to ask for nutrition advice that you can replicate in a real-life environment. You’ll likely find that your chosen facility has plenty of resources and advice they can offer for when you integrate into your new, substance-free life. 

Step 2: Set a Mealtime Routine

Routine can be important for a recovering addict. It can help you know what to expect at different times of the day and stay on the right path. While you might have an overall daily routine, create a miniature version for your meal times. 

Identify the times of the day you’d most likely eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can then establish snack times around those times of the day. Setting this routine can become helpful when the time comes to develop structured meal plans.   

Step 3: Identify Helpful Ingredients

Mental and physical health should be your primary focus when you’re on your sobriety journey. Food impacts our moods, energy levels, and healing abilities in different ways. As a result, it can be important to identify the most helpful ingredients for both mind and body. When you know the best foods to add to your shopping cart at the grocery store, you can start creating delicious meals that include them. 

Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, miso, and kimchi, can be ideal for gut health due to their abundance of probiotics. If you have sustained gut damage through addiction, probiotics can go a long way toward healing some of that damage

Complex carbohydrates can also be an excellent pantry addition. Brown rice, oats, and quinoa provide lasting energy while curbing sugar cravings. These versatile ingredients make an ideal main dish or side dish and are quick and easy to prepare. 

You might not be a huge fan of milk or milk products, but calcium is undoubtedly a mineral you should prioritize. According to studies, calcium carbonate reduces symptoms of alcohol withdrawal during recovery. While not available in traditional dairy products, it’s present in some fortified products and supplements. You might not know what to do with these ingredients yet, but it might only be a matter of time before you have a few staple meals to work with. 

Step 4: Research Easy Meals

Cooking for yourself can be overwhelming when you’re not used to taking care of this task yourself. Self-care can fall by the wayside when you’re in the throes of addiction. A small amount of research can go a long way toward ensuring kitchen competency. Search online for fast, easy recipes you can prepare with kitchen staples and minimal effort. There are even printed recipe books full of such recipes. 

You can also invent meals using some of those important ingredients listed above. Avocado or banana on toast can be nutritious and delicious for breakfast. You might also enjoy a fresh vegetable salad with tuna or boiled eggs for lunch or dinner. 

Step 5: Don’t Do It Alone

There will be days when meal preparation is the last thing you feel like doing. All your energy and focus can go toward staying sober – and that’s okay. On those days, you don’t have to take care of your dietary needs on your own. 

Consider meal subscription services. These arrive directly at your door with pre-measured ingredients and healthy recipes. In most cases, well-balanced meals are ready in under an hour. You might also like to take advantage of delivery services. You can order food from your favorite local restaurants and stay out of the kitchen altogether. 

Cooking can also be a social occasion. You might not feel like cooking on your own, but you can do it with a friend. The goal here is to ensure you eat well and regularly. This is something many addicts can struggle with before their sobriety journey begins. 

Step 6: Shop With a List

You might have a rough idea of the pantry essentials you need, but don’t underestimate the value of shopping with a list. Walking through the main doors of a grocery store and seeing food lining the floor-to-ceiling shelves can be off-putting. It’s easy to forget even the few essentials you went in for! 

Plan out your weekly meals, write the ingredients in a list, and shop confidently. Shopping with a list might also allow for a less overwhelming experience if you don’t typically like public outings.  If you know you’ll likely forget things you need, consider shopping online. You can then check and double-check your list before having your groceries delivered to your door. Online shopping also helps you stick to a budget. 

Kickstarting your healthy-eating routine after drug addiction can be daunting. You know you need to fuel your body with nutrients, but taking that first step is often overwhelming. Just as you would take each day as it comes in a rehab facility, you can do the same with your new eating routine. Take some of these steps above to provide your body and mind with essential vitamins and minerals for optimal health.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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