Cravings for drugs and alcohol are very common during recovery from addiction. Simply put, the body has become accustomed to functioning with the presence of addictive substances, and during early recovery, it has to re-learn how to function without them. This causes a wide range of unpleasant side effects, but one that leads to relapse more often than others is powerful cravings for the substance in question.
Is there a diet to eat that will help curb cravings in recovery? We’ll explore the answer to this and look at a few foods that may help.
Evidence That Foods Can Help Reduce Cravings
Relapse rates for addiction treatment are high — around 40% – 60% according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — so it takes a comprehensive approach to recovery to increase the odds of making it last. Many detox and treatment programs recommend immediate lifestyle changes to help stabilize the body during recovery and ease the uncomfortable withdrawal side effects that can cause a person to start using again. One of the most common (and sustainable) lifestyle changes you can make is reforming your diet to support your body’s needs during recovery.
Experts believe that getting a balanced diet with certain sources of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, will make recovery easier by mitigating the effects of cravings. Here are a few foods to consider getting more of.
Fruits and Vegetables
Often, people in recovery will crave sugar, especially those for whom alcohol was their substance of choice. Alcohol is high in sugar — which is addictive in its own right — and the body will begin to crave something to replace it.
Instead of turning to candy and junk food, which can negatively affect your mood over time, turn to a range of fruits and vegetables. They will provide a burst of sugar while also delivering vitamins and minerals that support your overall nutritional needs and stabilize your mood to resist cravings.
Because the amino acids in high-protein foods directly support the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine — which can lessen withdrawal symptoms — it’s important to get enough protein in your diet.
Fish, poultry, eggs and other sources of lean protein are highest in amino acids, providing energy and a mood boost that lasts.
Grains, Nuts, and Seeds
Grains are good for providing both vitamins and complex carbohydrates that provide longer lasting energy and sustained mood. Seeds and nuts are high in healthy fats like Omega-3s, as well as Vitamin E and Calcium, which can also stabilize the central nervous system and reduce (or help the body resist) cravings for drugs or alcohol.
Need Help with Your Recovery Diet?
Helping clients with their nutrition in (and after) rehab is important because the system needs to be rebuilt after an extended period of drugs and alcohol robbing the body of good nutrition. That’s why at Baystate Recovery Center, we include dietary planning in the recovery skills portion of our inpatient and outpatient addiction recovery programming.
If you or a loved one want to learn more about how to use your diet to reduce cravings and fortify your system during detox and beyond, contact us today.