By getting sober, you’ve already taken a big step in improving your health and your life—congratulations! However, you may be disappointed that just being clean and sober doesn’t mean you feel terrific all the time. Proper nutrition can add to you well being and your new sober lifestyle
Years of addiction can take a toll on your body, and it takes time and adopting new habits to undo some of the damage. Substance abusers are generally not the healthiest eaters, too often depending on junk food, caffeine and other food items that are low in nutrition. Changing old habits isn’t easy, but you’ll find that in the long run, eating a more nutritious diet will not only improve the way you feel physically, it will prepare your for the challenges ahead.
Too many recovering addicts just substitute one addiction, albeit one more socially acceptable, for another. Unfortunately, if you’re depending on nicotine, caffeine and sugar to give you an artificial “high,” you’re not getting the real “up” feeling that comes with good health and well-being. You need to eat the right foods—and avoid the wrong ones—to stabilize your blood sugar and normalize your brain chemistry.
To achieve good health and work towards a sober lifestyle, you’ll need to educate yourself about nutrition and how food can make your body feel. Here are some tips on getting a healthy body that doesn’t need or crave artificial stimulants.
Take a multivitamin every day.
It will be worth your while to consult a nutritionist about your eating habits and what type of supplements your system needs for optimal health. Even a healthy diet can lack certain nutrients, so always take your daily vitamin supplement.
There are several vitamins and minerals that are especially important for an alcoholic or an addict. Your supplement should supply adequate amounts of B Complex, because all the B vitamins are vital for fighting stress. Vitamin C can help nourish your adrenal glands, while Vitamin E is important for modulating mood swings and alleviating anxiety.
The minerals calcium, chromium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium are all crucial for fighting stress. Amino acids are also important since Tyrosine is a natural energy booster and 5HTP, a type of tryptophan, can help you maintain calmness. All of these should be in your daily vitamin.
Build up your immune system.
Your immune system has probably taken a beating and needs help to fight off colds and other illnesses. If you find yourself getting sick frequently, you need to up your consumption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Besides taking a good
multivitamin every day, you should be eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
Stabilize your blood sugar.
Eating sugary snacks can send your blood sugar level, as well as your mood, going up and down like a roller coaster. When you’re trying to stay sober, this is the last thing you need. Sure, it’s easy to reach for a donut or candy bar for a quick lift, but the fast surge of energy will soon be followed by a letdown.
Instead of a sweet, have a healthier snack like nuts or trail mix. Foods with whole grains, beans or fibrous vegetables will raise your blood sugar slowly and naturally, so you don’t get a crash afterwards.
Build muscle with lean protein.
Exercise is a major component in building a sober lifestyle. If you’re doing intense workouts, you’re relieving stress and building muscle, but you’re also upping your need for protein.
Meats are a prime source of protein, but some cuts can be high in fat and preservatives. Avoid processed meats like hot dogs and sausage. Instead, choose lower fat protein sources like lean meats, poultry, eggs and low-fat dairy products.
You don’t have to give up coffee and other beverages containing caffeine cold turkey immediately, but do realize that they’re a substitute for other mood-altering substances and try to wean yourself off them over a period of time. Make a gradual transition from coffee to tea to herb tea to give your body time to get accustomed to not feeling that caffeine rush.
The number-one culprit in the current epidemic of obesity is the soft drink—especially when it’s dispensed in those enormous “gulps” you find at the convenience stores. Not only are soft drinks loaded with caffeine, they’re also full of high glucose corn syrup, which is guaranteed to send your blood sugar soaring and pack on the pounds. To fight the urge for a cold cola, try carrying bottled water with you at all times.
Avoid temptation by planning ahead.
It’s a lot easier to avoid the wrong foods when you have the right ones readily available. Think about what situations can tempt you to eat or drink something that’s not good for you and have a substitute ready.
If you’re tempted by coffee and donuts for breakfast, instead have a cup of herb tea and a whole grain muffin. If your co-workers are always ordering out for fast food, pack a healthy lunch like a tuna or chicken salad with veggies on whole wheat bread. Bring snacks like fresh fruit, carrot sticks and nuts, plus your bottled water.
If you’re going to be driving around all day, avoid the fast food joints by packing a cooler with sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit, healthy snacks, fruit juice and other items that will keep you satisfied. If you’re traveling by plane, ask for a bottle of water as soon as possible and pack snacks that will make it past the TSA screening.
At home, keep your kitchen stocked with the type of food that will make you feel good physically. Since you’re not buying junk food, soft drinks, coffee or alcohol, use your grocery budget to treat yourself to the best in healthy items like fresh fruit, whole grain bread and pasta, gourmet salad blends and delicious seafood. Buying the freshest, tastiest food in an investment in yourself!
Who says eating healthy has to be boring?
If you need help with your sobriety, go to http://nycsoberliving.com.