When you live a healthy lifestyle, you will feel better and recover faster. Many things go into keeping your body functional, but one of the most important is proper nutrition. Typically you should try to get most of your essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from the foods you eat. However, most people do not eat a well-balanced diet. Unhealthy eating can potentially lead to deficiencies, adverse side effects, and severe health conditions. 

A 2004 review of the literature revealed that “studies on addictive disorders have demonstrated severe nutritional deficiencies in opiate abusers with behavioral, physiological and cognitive symptoms.” There is evidence that this is true for most forms of alcohol and drug abuse. The effect is often long-lasting and can impact your brain along with your digestive, circulatory, and cardiovascular systems. Anyone who has been taking an addictive substance should get checked by their doctor to determine if they require nutritional counseling.

Nutritional Counseling

Who Needs Nutritional Counseling? 

Anyone recovering from a prolonged illness, injury, or addiction will have special dietary considerations to keep in mind. Many people living with addiction do not have the capacity to ensure their physical and nutritional health is cared for from day to day. The substances they are taking may be causing undue strain on their digestion or other essential systems without their awareness. During your recovery, it is not abnormal to have lingering health issues caused by a lack of proper nutrition. 

How Can Proper Nutrition Help You Stay Sober? 

Eating right can stabilize and improve your moods, decreasing the risk of relapse. When you feel better physically, your mental outlook will improve. If you recently went through detox and withdrawal, your body may require additional nutritional care to get back to a healthy state. A 2017 review of the data by the University of Roehampton in the United Kingdom concluded: “the literature overwhelmingly finds that subjects with alcohol use disorder (AUD) and drug use disorder (DUD) typically suffer from nutrient deficiencies.” A nutritional counselor can help you identify and treat any deficiencies you may have due to your substance abuse. Some may require additional testing, such as a blood draw to confirm. 

Signs of mild to severe nutritional deficiencies are listed below. If you notice any of these, contact your doctor and get tested immediately. Some deficiencies can lead to organ failure and even death if left untreated for a prolonged period. 

  • Thin, brittle, or misshapen bones
  • Unusual fatigue or weakness
  • Lack of coordination and balance
  • Ashen skin
  • Jaundice
  • Unique and specific food cravings
  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Sudden hair loss
  • Persistent nausea, bloating, stomach pain, or constipation
  • Inability to concentrate, difficulty with memory, or other cognitive issues

Quick Tips For Staying Nutritionally Healthy

You will want to follow the advice of your doctor and nutritionist. In addition, you can make a few simple lifestyle changes to ensure your body gets the right amount of vitamins and minerals. Below are quick tips that you can use to stay healthier:

  • Avoid processed foods, including sugars and meats.
  • Added sugars and artificial sweeteners should also be avoided when possible.
  • Get the proper amount of sleep each night.
  • The average adult should get between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Doing this can improve digestion and aid in the creation of essential nutrients.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. Balance out the portions rather than having a meal of just one type of food.
  • Drink plenty of water. The daily average an adult should be drinking is a minimum of around 3 liters, including moisture in the food you eat.
  • Proper hydration can improve digestion and help your body absorb the right amount of nutrients.

We are here for you

Substance abuse often leads to nutritional deficiencies for several reasons. Your body may not be functioning correctly, you may be too distracted to get the proper amount of nutrients, or appetite changes could lead you to eat an unhealthy diet. During recovery, you might have trouble maintaining a balanced diet, but some resources can help, including nutritional counseling. Most rehabilitation programs include some form of nutritional education, but you need to continue to maintain a healthy diet when you return home. Facilities like White House Recovery and Detox have on-staff certified nutritionists who can assist you with designing a personalized health plan.