Nutrition for Overall Health
Nutrition is an essential component, if not the foundation for overall health and well-being. Most people are aware of this and understand if not focus on their nutrition, while others are aware yet continue not to realize what they ingest may be a partial cause of their behaviors and disease. Furthermore, there are “hidden” substances that can widely affect people and exacerbate their conditions. These can be foods high in sugars, caffeine, or the majority of the ingredients of a food item are chemicals. These foods may be FDA approved, but they are not healthy for people and are on most shelves of every commercial grocery store in the country.
Nutrition in Treatment
When in treatment, your facility will have a chef, a dietician, and/or a certified nutritionist to determine the menu for each individual at the treatment center and adjust the meals accordingly to the phase of treatment and the substance that they are detoxing from. Certain substances during withdrawal and detox, along with the effects of the medication will be part of the determination on what the client’s needs should be.
Some clients enter not having eaten for days, others shouldn’t eat at all in order to keep levels of nausea at a minimum.
The chef at the center is highly aware of specified diets and will usually have a main course that can be adjusted for the client’s dietary restrictions, such as being a vegetarian. Other times clients will adopt a healthier eating style during their time in residential treatment, as they learn to prepare meals for themselves or receive enough nutrition in the foods they eat. Proper nutrition can be the basis for psychological wellness, especially if the client has unknown allergies to specific foods.
The facility head nutritionist, whether it be the in-house chef or outside clinician, will be designed a specific plan to enhance the client’s stay and continued the long-term recovery process. Nutrition for substance abuse clients is complex, and need to be determined and discussed with the entire treatment team.
Nutritional counseling has been measured to improve sobriety success rates significantly, including medical disorders that add to individual challenges such as chronic pain.
Nutritional counseling should focus on areas for the client in treatment programs such as:
- Healing the body
- Stress reduction
- Emotional stability
- Craving reduction
- Introducing a healthy lifestyle change
- Basic needs met
- Assisting with occurring medical conditions
- Improving cognitive functioning
Appropriate nutrition and proper hydration are integral in the healing process and detoxification of drug and alcohol use. Without the nutritional needs being met, a person is highly susceptible to relapse. Nutrition directly effects the restoration of physical well being as well as the improvement of psychological and emotional factors. Nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, and lack of vitamins can cause depression, anxiety, low energy, mood swings, poor decision making, unexplained phobias, and pain.
Healing the Body with Food
Prolonged use of toxic substances can lead to a myriad of health diseases and ailments, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, damage to organs, a lowered immune system, compromised the endocrine system, nerve damage, brain damage, and more. Long-term liver damage, metabolic system damage, heart conditions, skin problems, diabetes, can happen when someone is using substances. The body may go through unhealthy cycles of weight gain and loss during substance use, taxing the entire system. Lack of sleep caused by drug use may also contribute to poor health conditions.
To recover from poor nutritional management due to substance abuse, a client will need to have a balanced, healthy meal plan with enough caloric content that can assist the body in homeostasis gradually. During the detox phase, there may not be as much meal planning as there are hydration and stabilization with the effects of withdrawal symptoms and medication. Post detox phase, the client is asked to participate in every meal, including healthy snacks in between, such as protein shakes.
Foods which assist in decreasing inflammation, balance ph levels, and nutrient dense foods are mainly consumed. For example, a diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish can reduce stress and increase vitamins and minerals. Sugars, fried foods, packaged foods, and in some cases the removal of all white flour products is common in residential treatment facilities. Additives of flax seeds, kelp, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, all organics, gluten-free meals, and other nutritional approaches are commonly used in treatment centers.
To understand how food can affect moods, proper decision making, and emotional stress, which may lead to substance use, nutrition can be looked at as preventative medicine.
Reducing Cravings with Food and Nutrients
Without proper nutrition, physical symptoms of low blood sugar, dehydration, hormonal unbalances, adrenal wipeout can affect clients’ moods and energy levels resulting in triggers and craving to use.
When proper hydration and nutrients are not met, early recovery clients have often had a difficult time understanding the differences between hunger or thirst and drug cravings. The craving that the body releases may be perceived as needing something else, and therefore causes the addict to obsessive about drugs or alcohol when they are in truth malnourished. Other people in recovery will transfer a drug or alcohol addiction to a sugar and sweets addiction, which can cause an increase in dopamine levels because it creates pleasure. Other foods that are commonly called “comfort foods” do the same thing: increase the neurotransmitter dopamine which responds to pleasure hormones. Often these foods are high in calories and not healthy- pizza, chips, etc.
Along with drug use, many clients entering rehab have eating disorders, some finding out after detox. Binge eating disorder can show up during treatment, and other clients start their drug use because of eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.
Addiction and Malnutrition
It is not uncommon to find an addict who is suffering from malnutrition. Malnutrition is not limited to underweight individuals. Malnutrition includes standard weight and overweight people as well. Malnutrition means “bad nutrition” and is not categorized for people not having enough food, but for people who also do not eat the right food. In treatment, malnutrition is broken down into two categories and classified by severity. If a client is diagnosed with Primary Malnutrition,
it means that they have been using substances in the place of food. When a client is diagnosed with Secondary Malnutrition, it means that the body’s system which absorbs, metabolizes, and excretes will have the improper function even though their diet seems to be enough.
Primary and Secondary Malnutrition is prevalent in substance users.
Alcohol Use and Nutritional Deficiency
People who abuse alcohol are ingesting a liquid high in calories but low in nutritional value. Alcohol abuse is prevalent in the US for being a major underlying cause for nutritional problems. Many alcoholics become malnourished, with the body receiving enough caloric content but not the right kind, or it changes the body’s ability for healthy ingestion and cannot receive the proper nutrients.
Alcohol abuse affects the body’s overall area to function and can cause sleep disorders, weight fluctuations, metabolism problems, gastrointestinal challenges, muscle atrophy, liver failure, rapid blood sugar level changes, ulcers, and cramping.
People who ingest more than thirty percent of their daily calories in alcohol will decrease absorption of vitamins and create deficiencies. Alcohol abuse directly impacts the digestive system and the digestion of proteins, which lead to a myriad of health problems.
Most people know that heavy drinkers are at a risk of liver disease, as the liver will stop proper functioning and cause disorders throughout the system. There are four stages of liver damage which can be classified as fatty liver, hepatitis of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver and encephalopathy.
Due to the high sugar content in alcohol, it is not uncommon for alcoholics to develop Type II Diabetes.
In treatment, the alcoholic will be engaged in a nutritional based plan which includes food that will prevent or halt liver damage. Treatment will also prepare the alcoholic to understand and educate themselves about proper nutrition. Alcoholics in treatment should be allowed carbohydrates and proteins, and not be restricted to a low calorie diet or fasting.
Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids should be added to the alcoholic in recovery diet to assist with proper liver functioning. Taurine, an amino acid, has proven to help with dietary supplemental nutrition as it has a positive effect on the brain as it is recovering from the detox phase.
There is an alcohol-related disease called Wernicke-Korsakoff’s Syndrome, also known as “wet brain” when the thiamine is diminished to a deficient amount causing the inability to absorb the toxins in alcohol. Wet brain may be permanent and causes a decrease in cognitive functioning, which can be mild to severe brain damage.
Opioids Use and Nutritional Deficiency
Opioids are considered narcotics and include codeine, heroin, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone. They act as sedatives and have been developed to reduce pain. Once ingested, they slow down a person’s metabolism and digestive tract.
If a client is in detox for heroin abuse, there are symptoms which directly affect the gastrointestinal tract such as cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Withdrawal from opioids cause the client not to want to eat or drink, but due to the fluid loss, it is crucial to replace the system with liquids and electrolytes. It is common for clients in withdrawal from opioids to consume sports drinks for that reason. It is important to monitor blood sugar levels through opioid detox as that heroin can lead to glucose intolerance. Pain and tolerance levels are typically low, as coming off opioids can be physically taxing.
Stimulants often lead to weight loss and can cause the user to undernourished and full of anxiety sleep deprivation and paranoid thinking. Uppers include cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine, and caffeine. Some users have an eating disorder and turn to stimulants to help keep them off food. Coming into rehab and detoxing from stimulants, it is often that the client will start eating high-calorie meals, and gain weight quickly. This should be monitored closely by staff. In addition, meth users have a common issue for poor dental hygiene and bad teeth, or are missing teeth, resulting in low food intake. People who are recovering from meth should eat a diet that can support this area pf their health.
Marijuana users often eat more than needed calories and often it is junk food as they get the “munchies.” People who are long-term users and have become addicted to marijuana can be over-weight and will benefit from a lower calorie diet filled with healthy food. Marijuana is fat-soluble and takes longer to rid the system, taking up to six months for organs to return to normal after getting clean.
A Healthful Lifestyle
In addition to nutrition in recovery, an overall healthy lifestyle is imperative for maximum well-being which includes proper exercise, sleep, and other ways of engaging in self-care. A positive attitude with ample physical energy can motivate a client into abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
During treatment, the client should receive nutritional education: how to properly shop, prepare, and cook healthy foods so they can transition and not return to old habits. Some treatment centers allow for cooking classes, recipe books, group discussions, and even traveling in excursions to healthy markets and restaurants.
Healthy alternatives for those having a difficult time financially or having unstable living situations contribute to how clients make their transitions smoothly and decrease stress and triggers for relapse.
Nutritionists, dieticians, and chefs are all important staff members at the treatment facility that contribute to the client’s process in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse. The more the client learns about proper nutrition, the better they can circumvent a relapse when they may have cravings, emotions, boredom, and celebratory experiences.
Focusing on health removes the focus of using.
Meals designed by our Executive Chef and inspired by nutrition experts provide the exquisite taste and health focused ingredients so your body can rejuvenate. Our team of expert culinary artists provides world class taste to restore you and help you rediscover the simple joys of sobriety. We at Vogue Recovery recognize that some aspects of substance abuse will be difficult. We strive to have our clients indulge whenever possible, which is why offer them tantalizing and nutritionally balanced meals throughout the day.
To learn more about our world-class program and luxury approach, call 1-877-437-6408 today.