How Can Cooking Benefit My Recovery?

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Have you ever watched a cooking competition on TV and noticed how many chefs are in recovery? Well, that’s one way food can help someone with a history of addiction, but everyone can benefit from a little nutritional support to rebound from the effects of substance abuse. There are certain nutrients that need replenishing in your body and the right foods will help get you healthy again.

What Nutrients Get Depleted With Alcohol Abuse?

When you have been drinking for a long time and abusing alcohol, your folic acid, or folate levels, are probably pretty depleted. Both terms refer to the B9 vitamin, but folate is a natural form and folic acid is the supplement created synthetically. You can choose a synthetic supplement of folic acid or you can go with the natural form of folate to get your levels back up with these foods:

  • Broccoli, asparagus, peas, and spinach
  • Pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils, and black beans
  • Seeds and nuts such as flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and almonds
  • Avocados
  • Soybeans
  • Beets
  • Tomatoes
  • Chicken Liver
  • Wheat Germ

Maybe you’d rather take a pill than eat chicken liver, but there are plenty of dietary options you can incorporate into your routine and your tastes. Try roasting your broccoli or asparagus for a different flavor. Make a point to add something green to every meal, whether it’s broccoli, a spinach salad, or peas. Sprinkle some wheat germ on your cereal or salad.

Some of these foods do double duty as they contain another nutrient alcohol tends to deplete: vitamin B6. You can get B6 in avocados and spinach, as well as fish, chicken, and nutrient powerhouse bananas.

Thiamine, or B1, takes a beating during alcohol abuse and guess what? You’ll see some familiar faces here: peas, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and fortified bread and cereals all contain plentiful amounts of vitamin B1.

What Do I Need Nutritionally When Recovering From Opioid Abuse?

When you’re recovering from opioid abuse things are a little more generalized. You’ve probably gone a long time without eating properly or only eating one or two meals a day. As a result, you may find yourself malnourished and underweight. Pay particular attention to setting a schedule for eating a full three meals a day and make sure you are getting the nutrition you need. In particular, incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meals because your body needs all the nutritional support you can give it.

How Can I Compensate Nutritionally for Stimulant Abuse?

Like opioid abuse, stimulant abuse creates a state where the body needs overall nutrition and has been starved of it for too long. When you stop using stimulants, you may notice that your body temperature is lower or you experience some unintended weight loss, muscle wasting, or you can have disturbances in your heart rate and rhythm from depleted electrolytes. 

But there are other side effects that you need to worry about that can cause mental dysfunction after stimulant or other drug use, such as depression, anxiety, and even cognitive impairment, including confusion. After your body has suffered all that abuse, it needs solid nutrition to help build new pathways in the brain. We often refer to that as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to form new connections and pathways and substance abuse damages those pathways and creates new ones that aren’t healthy.

What Is the Importance of Neuroplasticity?

Let’s get scientific here for a few moments. There are certain things your brain needs to function properly and create new, healthy brain pathways. The first is serotonin. This naturally-produced chemical helps stabilize your mood, helps you get a good night’s sleep, and most importantly, reduces your cravings for drugs and alcohol. What can you do to increase serotonin levels? Eat your carbohydrates: vegetables, fruits, pasta (preferably whole grain), and whole grain breads and cereal.

How do you boost the neurotransmitter dopamine and why do you need it? A lack of dopamine can create even more cravings and more aggression. How to boost dopamine production? Try to incorporate some amino acids into your diet such as: fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts, oatmeal, pork, turkey, chicken, broccoli, and carrots.

When you consume healthy dietary fat, you reduce inflammation and help regenerate the neuroplasticity in your brain. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are particularly useful in this function. Both increase the overall amount of neurotransmitters in your brain which means more activity and mental prowess. Where are they found? Omega-3 acids are found in fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, eggs, flaxseeds, walnuts, and tofu. Get your omega-6 fats in meat, poultry, fish, corn, eggs, and nuts and seeds.

How Do You Get Your Appetite Back?

If you have the cash, which you probably don’t, you can pay to have someone cook you healthy, gourmet meals. You can also learn to cook for yourself and many people find this therapeutic in their recovery and even become chefs. All that is great down the road, but when you are in your detox and initial recovery, it’s nice if you can find someone to cook healthy meals for you. Everlast Recovery Centers prides itself on serving home-cooked meals while you’re in rehabilitation, along with a home-like atmosphere. This can get you off to the right start in a healthier, more nutrient-dense diet.

We often look for the latest medication or counseling that can help us in recovery, but one thing we often overlook is the proper nutrition to help our mind and our bodies recover. Many particular nutrients can be depleted by alcohol abuse, such as folic acid and vitamins B6 and B1, but after addiction of any substance, your body just needs an overall healthy, balanced diet. You may learn to cook healthy meals in time, but Everlast Recovery Centers helps you get nutritional support right from the start. We offer home-cooked meals and a home-like atmosphere so you can concentrate on your recovery and the nutrition aspect will take care of itself. With the proper nutrition, you can rebuild the neuroplasticity of your brain and make new and healthy connections, support your recovery, and help prevent relapse. Let us give you help with your addiction and healthy, tasty meals to support your mind and body. Call 866-DETOX-25

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