Why Healthy Eating Can Help You Stay Sober
Healthy eating is the foundation for physical well-being. But what does eating healthy really mean, and how does it specifically relate to recovery?
Benefits of Eating Well, Especially in Recovery
Eating well means giving your body the fuel it needs to function and feel good. The benefits of a healthy diet also include faster healing and an improved immune system, which allows the body to repair the damage caused by alcohol consumption.
In addition, the foods you eat directly impact your mood and energy levels, both of which affect the urge to drink. Eating well can help prevent relapse caused by depression or fatigue. Research has also shown that people in recovery maintain their sobriety for a longer period of time when they eat a healthy diet.
Eat Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread require more time and effort to be broken down into sugar, whereas "simple" carbohydrates like candy break down faster. The sugars enter your bloodstream as soon as they reach their final, usable form. When you eat complex carbohydrates, a small amount of sugar enters your bloodstream over a long time, so you maintain a steady energy level. Complex carbs also contain more fiber and nutrients, so you'll stay fuller longer.
To eat more complex carbohydrates, try to eat foods in their whole, unprocessed form as often as possible. Examples include whole oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread versus quick oats, white rice, or white bread.
Stay Hydrated, Preferably Not With Caffeinated Drinks
Mild dehydration can affect concentration, mood regulation, and energy. In other words, you won't feel good if you don't drink enough water. If you tend to want to drink when you feel uncomfortable, dehydration could increase that urge. The average adult needs at least 8 cups of water each day, but you should drink twice that amount on the days you exercise.
Drink water whenever you can instead of caffeinated drinks. Too much caffeine can interfere with your sleep cycle and increase symptoms of anxiety. Both of these circumstances could increase your urge to drink.
Eat More Protein and Fiber
You can't go wrong eating fiber and protein. Fiber -- a non-digestible carbohydrate -- aids in digestive health, whereas protein is essential for energy and healing.
To make the most of these two nutritional staples, always combine a protein-rich food (chicken, beef, pork, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu) with a fiber-rich food (whole fruits, vegetables, or grains) for every meal or snack. This will make you feel full for a longer period of time. Reducing hunger pangs is key to also reducing the number of alcoholic drinks you might consume.
Reduce Sugar and Processed Food Intake
Processed foods are usually full of additives like fat, salt, and sugar to taste good. Although fat, salt, and sugar are beneficial in small quantities, a diet high in these ingredients can lead to weight gain, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other ailments.
Eat 5 Times a Day
Eating regular meals throughout the day keeps both your mood and your blood sugar levels steady. This reduces irritability and fatigue, both of which could increase your urge to drink. Experts recommend eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks each day and spacing them out so that you eat about every three hours.
Complement a healthy diet with regular exercise. Even relatively easy exercise, such as a short walk, will give you more energy and improve your mood.
At Confidant, we're always here to guide you toward healthier choices. If you'd like to discuss how nutrition can aid your recovery, log in to the Confidant app now.