Over the last few months, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of diet – not just for your overall health, but also particular foods that contain specific vitamins and minerals that can support your brain and body through your recovery.
We’ve told you that it’s important to nourish your body with lots of fresh produce, clean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs, and to avoid eating foods that are looked at as unhealthy.
Today, we wanted to talk about some specific foods that aren’t great for recovering addicts and why we’d recommend avoiding them as much as you can.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, we have some bad news for you: sugar has the same effect on our brains as many addictive drugs. According to a study done by Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, “intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavioral and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse”.
Consuming an excess of sugar can cause weight gain, type two diabetes, and possibly increase your risk for cancer and depression. If you’re just getting over one addiction, the last thing you want to do is replace it with another that can negatively affect your long-term health.
Now, in today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to avoid foods containing processed sugar altogether – and, frankly, a life completely devoid of sugary treats is a bit sad. It’s best to stay away from desserts and other sugary foods for the most part, but by all means allow yourself a piece of cake for a special occasion and a “cheat snack” once every week or two.
If you feel like you really need something sweet, opt for a healthier treat. Fruit contains natural sugars to help you kill that craving, but they also contain fiber and a ton of nutrients. Frozen grapes or cherries taste just like candy!
Most American adults know the feeling of caffeine withdrawals: headaches, low blood pressure, insomnia, and more. Just like drugs, caffeine increases dopamine levels in our brains and causes withdrawal symptoms when we haven’t gotten our fix.
If you can’t completely quit your caffeine habit, it may be okay to consume in moderation. Consider switching your morning coffee for a green tea and sticking to just one cup per day.
Not all fats are inherently bad. Fatty foods like avocado, nuts and seeds, and fish are very healthy and should be incorporated into your diet while you’re in recovery.
The types of fats you want to avoid are hydrogenated fats. Think greasy fast food burgers and pizzas. These foods increase your bad cholesterol and increase your chances of weight gain, heart disease, and stroke.
That being said, many people find it easier to stick to a healthy diet when they’re allowed a burger every once in a while. Like the other foods on this list, moderation is key. Allow yourself a greasy treat once a month and stick to eating clean the rest of the time.