The Importance of healthy Eating in Recovery
There is truth in the claim that people are what they eat. The food they consume can have a large impact on their life. It not only affects physical health but also mental well-being. Those individuals who manage to escape an addiction will be aiming to build a successful life in sobriety. In order to achieve this they will need to make many changes. An important aspect of this will be ensuring that they consume a healthy diet.
Addiction and Nutritional Deficiencies
When people are trapped in addiction they tend to have a poor diet. This leads to nutritional deficiencies that can seriously damage their health. Alcoholics in particular suffer from problems related to their diet. This is because they consume many of their calories in the form of alcohol. Many of the diseases associated with alcoholism are caused by nutritional deficiencies. This includes alcoholic liver disease, and alcoholic dementia. Once people become sober it is vital that they begin to enjoy a balanced diet. This will help them achieve good physical and mental health.
Healthy Eating Defined
Everyone knows that it is better for them if they eat more healthily. The problem is that there can be a bit of confusion about what this actually means. This uncertainly about healthy eating is not helped by the fact that there is so much conflicting information on the subject. For instance, some experts claim that a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fats is healthy; other experts claim that it is too much carbohydrate that is the problem.
The most basic way of defining healthy eating would be to say that it is a diet that contains the right amount from all the different food groups. The disagreement occurs when it comes to deciding on exactly what are the right amounts. The food pyramid is currently the most respected guide to the amounts people should be eating from each of the food groups.
Food Groups and the Food Pyramid
A food group refers to a collection of food that contain similar nutritional properties. The common food groups include:
* The bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group
* The fruit group
* The vegetable group
* The milk, yogurt, and cheese group
* The meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group
* Fats, oils, and sweets
The food pyramid is a diagram in a triangular shape that graphically depicts the amount from each food group people should be eating. The lower down something is on the pyramid the more people should be eating it. At the very top of the pyramid is the fats and oil food group; these should be used sparingly. At the bottom of the pyramid the bread, cereal and rice group; this is what people should eat the most.
Nutrients in Recovery
A balanced diet needs to include all the different nutrients:
* Carbohydrates are needed for energy
* Protein is needed so that the body can build and repair
* Fats also provide energy and they are also required for some chemical reactions
* Vitamins are needed by the body in order to perform essential metabolic activities
* Minerals are also necessary for metabolism and to keep the body functioning
* Water is essential because this accounts for 70% of the composition of the body. It provides a medium for chemical reactions.
If people fail to get enough of these nutrients it will start to negatively impact their health.
The Dangers of an Unhealthy Diet in Recovery
Those individuals who have managed to escape an addiction will already have made a contribution to improving their health. In order to take their sobriety to the next level it will be necessary for them to pay a bit of attention to their diet. Failure to do so will mean that they are in danger of the following:
* What people eat greatly impacts their mood and mental functioning. Eating the wrong things may mean that the individual lacks energy and experiences negative emotions. Nobody becomes sober so that they can feel bad. It therefore just makes sense that they should eat those foods that are going to make them feel good.
* Many people in recovery turn to food for comfort when they are dealing with problems. This is similar to how they once used alcohol or drugs as a means to escape. Sobriety should be all about facing these challenges and not trying to run away from them.
* A poor diet leads to ill-health. There are many types of illness and chronic disease related to poor nutrition.
* People who do not eat sensibly will be at risk of becoming overweight. There is plenty of talk in the media about the obesity epidemic that is destroying lives around the world. Those who become overweight not only increase their risk of disease but may also have to deal with self-esteem issues.
Comfort Eating in Recovery
Comfort eating can also be described as trying to eat away emotions. People do this because they learn to associate food with reward during their childhood. When they are adults they continue turn to food as a means of comfort when things in their life are difficult. This can be harmful because it leads to obesity; people most often turn to junk food when they need solace. Another problem with comfort eating is that it is just another way to avoid dealing with problems. It is similar to alcohol and drug addiction as it actually increases the problems that people will have to deal with.
Healthy Eating for People in Recovery
Here are just a few ideas for how people in recovery can eat more healthily:
* In order to make healthy choices it is important to know a bit about nutrition. It is not necessary for people to become nutritional experts, but it will help if they understand the basics. Research into diet always leads to new ideas so it is beneficial to stay up to date with the latest views on healthy diet.
* It is recommended that people eat small portions regularly throughout the day. Skipping meals is a bad idea because it leads to hunger. People are more likely to overeat if they feel hungry. By eating small portions the individual will be able to satisfy their hunger and nutritional requirements without gaining weight.
* If people wish to lose weight is best that they avoid crash diets. The problem is that such diets are usually not sustainable. The usual routine is that people lose the weight but they are then unable to maintain their strict control of their food intake. This means that get caught in a cycle of dieting and gaining the weight back. In order to more effectively lose the weight it is best to make small changes that they will be able to maintain indefinitely.
* It can be really helpful if people keep a food journal. In here they can not only write down what they are eating, but also record any interesting information they have picked up about good nutrition. As well as recording what they eat it is helpful to note when they eat; this way they will be able to observe any patterns for comfort eating.
* In order to eat well people need to be able to read nutritional labels on food. This provides information on the calorie content and the percentage of the different nutrients in the food. It is only by reading the nutritional labels that people will be able to make more sensible choices.
* Eating slowly is highly recommended because this tends to mean that people will eat less. It gives the brain time to register that hunger is satisfied.
* Avoid junk food as much as possible. This type of item tends to be high in calories but low in nutritional value. The documentary Supersize Me demonstrated how eating too much junk food can be as damaging to the body as alcoholism.
Mindful Eating in Recovery
Mindfulness is a meditation technique where the aim is to be more aware of what is happening in the present moment. Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness. It involves being fully present when eating food. One of the reasons why people develop dietary problems is that they just do not pay enough attention to the food they eat and how this affects their body. By paying more attention it should mean that the individual will have an improved relationship with food. Mindful eating is a long-term solution to weight problems and may people have found it to be highly effective.