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Last Updated on July 9, 2019
The brain and body of newly sober alcoholics deal with the painful effects of withdrawal and look for an excuse to relapse in order to ease their symptoms. They also have to confront the effects of their excess alcohol consumption both psychologically and nutritionally. They need a definite plan for not only staying alcohol and drug free but in restoring their severe malnutrition state through proper diet management.
Why The Concern?
Why should newly sober alcoholics be concerned with diet? Shouldn’t their main concern be centered on staying clean? Of course, the primary goal of the newly sober addict is recovery, however, diet plays a crucial role in staying on the path of that recovery. In fact, when an alcoholic enters a drug rehab treatment facility, they may discover that much emphasis goes to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet regimen. That is because diet and sobriety go hand in hand.
Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies
A physician will most likely work very close with an alcoholic that is newly sober. Depending on how long the addict abused alcohol there will likely be some health concerns due to an imbalanced diet. When alcoholics drink, they get a false sense of satiation, that is because they get their caloric intake from the alcohol and not actual nutrition. Any food that is consumed, is usually heavy in unhealthy fats and sugars. As a result, they will most likely be vitamin and mineral deficient. Supplements such as B-complex and minerals such as magnesium and thiamine along with others will likely be recommended at a higher dose to combat these issues.
Stabilizing Blood Sugar Levels
Keeping blood sugar levels balanced is another concern. When alcohol is being consumed, it is then converted to sugar resulting in high sugar spikes and insulin induced crashes. When an addict stops drinking alcohol, their blood sugar level is lowered, and they will crave sugar as a result. This is dangerous because one addiction is being replaced by another as sugar consumption releases dopamine (a chemical that sends reward and pleasure signals) to the brain just as alcohol and other drugs. Also, the intense sugar fluctuations in the blood causes depression and anxiety. Which can be a recipe for a relapse because the newly sober alcoholic is tempted to indulge in old habits to escape those feelings. For those reasons, coffee and other caffeinated drinks may be encouraged to take in limited quantities at the beginning of recovery.
The Ideal Diet
So, what is the ideal diet for newly recovering alcoholics? A well balanced, nutrient dense diet that helps reduce alcohol cravings. Whole grains such as breads and pastas are complex carbohydrates that are safer than simple sugars because they break down in the body slower allowing you to maintain energy without the sugar rush and crash. Good quality lean proteins such as fish, poultry and other meats supports muscular and tissue health. Leafy green vegetables and fruits like bananas offer B vitamins that are essential in early recovery because they help fight fatigue, and assist in the red blood cells production, these vitamins also increase serotonin which lowers depression and anxiety. Drinking plenty of water is important in keeping hydrated as dehydration is another major issue for alcoholics. It is also noteworthy to consider that many recovering drug addicts and alcoholics may suffer with gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and nausea so one should find foods that are not only healthy but also can be easily digested.
Finding and sticking to a healthy food routine is new and challenging for any addict in recovery but it is critical to maintaining sobriety. As stated before, a well balance diet and alcohol abstinence go hand and hand. One should also learn to eat at consisted times every day. It may take some time to adjust to a new eating habit and require developing a whole new routine before you are able to experience the benefits to your health. You’ll need to be re-educated on what is good healthy food too as good nutrition was likely never practice before but the benefits will make it worth your while in the end.