Nutrition and exercise are two of the most commonly neglected aspects of health when substance abuse is involved. A few simple drinks after work hours can translate into daily binge drinking, and occasional drug use with friends can eventually turn into nightly intoxication sessions. It feels harmless at the time, but these behaviors form into a dangerous habit that becomes an addiction – and along with addiction comes with crucial areas of our lives that tend to be pushed to the side.
If you’re in recovery for addiction, you can probably admit that it’s been more difficult for you to get proper exercise and to eat healthy when substance abuse required so much time and effort. It’s harder to go shopping for healthy, nutritious foods and to schedule in time each week to exercise when our brain has become altered to crave substances constantly. If you feel like you’ve got a long way to go, don’t be disheartened – treatment is just as much about getting your physical health back on track as it is treating the addiction itself.
Nutrition: What You Need to Know
You’ve probably heard this before, but nutrition serves as the energy that the mind and body uses to function – much like fuel enhances a vehicle’s performance. When harmful foods enter the body, it’s essentially like pouring orange juice in an engine and expecting it to run optimally. It doesn’t work well – and, in fact, along with the substance abuse, the mind and body likely has little energy to remain functioning in the best ways possible. Over time, this continued pattern can aid in the development of mental illness and can make it much more difficult to maintain healthy relationships, positive self-image and more.
In 2014, Today’s Dietitian explained that healthy foods are vital for proper healing in recovery; certain substances, such as stimulant, can suppress appetite and lead to malnourishment for those battling addiction, and recovery is about restoring some of what was lost. Alyssa Salz, MD, stated: “Individualized nutrition counseling and comprehensive nutrition education programs provided to the substance abuse population have been found to significantly improve three-month sobriety success rates.
The benefits from nutrition extend way beyond three months, as there are so many other benefits that can be derived such as:
- Stabilized mood and reduced stress
- Greater healing done by the body
- Reduced cravings for substances
- Encouragement of self-care and a healthy lifestyle
- Medical conditions can more readily be addressed
- And more
There are many types of nutrients that can benefit a person’s recovery, such as vitamin B12, folate, magnesium, zinc and calcium and more. Most often, these types of nutrients are found in foods you can find at your local grocery store, such as: leafy greens, seeds, soybeans, yogurt, cheese, legumes, citrus fruits, meat, lentils, berries, broccoli and more. Creating a nutrition plan may seem overwhelming at first, but that’s how Avalon Malibu can help.
Exercise: What You Need to Know
You don’t have to become a full-blown marathon runner to benefit from exercise. In fact, even light walking or jogging can reduce blood pressure and aid in overall cardiovascular health; but addiction can often leave the body unable to carry out healthy forms of exercise to the intense “high” effects. Claire Twark, MD, explained her own personal take on exercise and addiction via Harvard Health. She stated: “Combined with what we know about other treatments, exercise shows promise…In my experience, many patients with various substances use disorders have found that exercise helps to distract them from cravings. Workouts adds structure to the day. They help with forming positive social connections and help treat depression and anxiety in combination with other therapies.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that exercise can help both psychosocially (such as getting to know others through group-related exercise activities) and physiological needs that addiction often depletes us of.
Creating a Plan For Your Recovery
Upon entering your personalized treatment program at Avalon Malibu, you’ll be able to consult with a nutrition and exercise advisor to explore what options would benefit your mental, physical and spiritual health the most. It’s important to create your own action plan when it comes to both of these aspects of living – because the idea is that during treatment, you will gain a strong habit for carrying out these on your own.
It may feel intimidating to embark on better living through nutrition and exercise, but that’s what guidance from Avalon Malibu is for. You’ll have an entire team of people who care about your success and who want to help you find what works best – and, as mentioned before, you’re not expected to be able to run a marathon. It’s all about taking small steps each day that lend to a much, much larger picture: your happiness and health.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you – it’s never too late to begin taking steps towards a happier, healthier life.