Nutrition in Addiction Recovery: What Recovering Addicts Should Eat

Good nutrition in addiction recovery is essential for success. Here’s what you should be eating in the early months of recovery.

Addiction does a number on your physical and mental health, and improving your health is an important focus in recovery, especially in the early weeks and months, when recovery is typically most challenging. Good nutrition in addiction recovery has a number of benefits that promote ongoing abstinence:

  • It promotes feelings of good health and wellbeing.
  • It keeps your blood sugar stable to help ward off cravings.
  • It helps you maintain a stable mood.
  • It helps your body repair damage done by the addiction.

So, what does good nutrition in addiction recovery look like? This nutrition addiction menu guide will help you make healthy selections when it comes to the food you put in your body.

Nutrition and Your Mood

Maintaining a stable mood is crucial in the early months of recovery. A stable mood helps prevent relapse, and it helps you stay motivated and focused on recovery.

Carbohydrates play an important role in the production of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, which helps keep your mood happy and stable. However, not all carbs are created equal. Candy, cakes, white pasta, and refined breads can lead to weight gain, inflammation, a foggy brain, and poor overall health. But complex carbohydrates, such as oat bran, potatoes with the skin on, and long grain brown rice, can go a long way toward improving your mood.

Folic acid and the B-vitamins are also important for a stable mood. Good sources of folic acid include spinach, broccoli, avocados, and pinto beans. Foods high in the B vitamins include seeds, tuna fish, bananas, red meat, low-fat dairy, and eggs.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids promote brain health and can have a positive impact on your mood. Omega-3 rich foods include walnuts, salmon, and Brussels sprouts. Foods high in omega-6 fatty acids include sunflower seeds, chicken, and butter.

Nutrition and Stress Relief

Keeping your stress levels down is very important in early recovery. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help reduce your stress.

Nutrition for recovering alcoholics should include plenty of Vitamin C, which is important for stress relief. Vitamin C lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body, and it helps keep your blood pressure stable when you do get stressed out. Foods high in vitamin C include yellow peppers, strawberries, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Dark chocolate can also help with stress. According to UCLA’s Center for East-West Medicine, a couple of ounces of dark chocolate each day relieves stress at the molecular level and improves your mood and cognitive function.

Herbal teas are great stress relievers too, and they promote feelings of comfort and wellbeing. Mint tea can leave you feeling calmer, and barley tea, which is a good source of tryptophan, promotes relaxation.

Nutrition and Cravings

Cravings can worsen in frequency and intensity if your diet isn’t balanced. Cravings are often triggered by negative emotions like anger, irritability, and depression, and these, in turn, are often caused by low blood sugar, dehydration, and too much caffeine. Food that promotes stable blood sugar can help keep cravings at bay or reduce their intensity. Your nutrition addiction menu should include plenty of whole grains, raw spinach, peanut butter, and salmon, which are packed with the nutrients that keep your blood sugar stable and promote better brain health.

Good Nutrition in Addiction Recovery: Rules of Thumb

Here are some tips to help you eat an overall healthier diet:

Shop the perimeter.

The healthiest food at the grocery store is around the perimeter. Here’s where you find produce, meat, and dairy. Packaged, refined foods are generally found in the aisles in the middle of the store. Stay on the perimeter as much as possible.

Eat mostly plants.

Nutrition for recovering alcoholics and others in recovery should be comprised mostly of plants. A plant-based diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and beans and legumes. A diet that’s mostly plant-based offers the best health benefits.

Eat lean proteins.

Avoid red meat and other fatty meats as much as possible, and opt instead for lean meats like chicken and pork. Too much dietary fat promotes inflammation, which in turn affects your mood and the overall function of your body’s systems.

Don’t forget to hydrate.

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day.

Eat at home.

Eating out is rarely healthy, especially if you tend to eat a lot of fast food. Try to cut out as much fast food as possible, and save dine-in restaurant visits for special occasions. Cooking whole foods and eating them at home is offers the best nutrition in addiction recovery. To learn more about this and how you can prevent from future relapse on drug and alcohol, call WhiteSands Treatment today.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.