Everyone knows or has an idea that a proper diet is a necessity. Whether your goal is to gain muscle mass, lose weight, or simply live a healthier lifestyle, everything comes down to nutrition. What you eat, how often you eat, and even when you eat it, are all equally important. A lot of people overlook, or underestimate, the importance of a proper diet for someone who is in recovery. Anyone who is in recovery knows that the first few weeks of detox are rough, and diet is usually the last thing on your mind. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is very important, and can help with the struggles taking place in the body.
Your brain has different chemicals and transmitters that help with day to day activities. Dopamine is a transmitter and it helps with your ability to stay focused, alert, and on task. Serotonin is a chemical that plays a major role in sleep, mood stability, emotion, pain, and appetite. Endorphins are the bodies “natural pain reliever.” They help relieve pain to allow you to continue physical activity. Drugs and alcohol disrupt these chemicals in the brain, causing them to overwork or underwork. Correcting these imbalances is difficult and takes time. Most people turn to the help of sugar, caffeine, or nicotine. The problem with this is that all of these substitutes have their own list of problematic side effects, as well as messing with those same chemicals in the brain. For example, many studies have shown that the brain lights up the same way from sugar as it does cocaine. In fact, sugar has been shown to be even more addicting than cocaine.
Choosing the right foods is not as difficult as you might think. Try to make each meal consist of a complex carbohydrate, a lean protein, and a healthy fat. Complex carbohydrates give the body a steady amount of energy throughout day, which in turn, keeps the blood sugar from spiking and dropping. Carbs also help with Serotonin levels as well as the different transmitters (dopamine for one example) in the brain. Protein is usually associated with working out and building muscle, but what a lot of people don’t know is that it plays a major role in your immune system functions. Endorphin receptors are what make up 90% of all the receptors in the immune system, an area that is damaged from active drug and alcohol abuse. Fat should not make up the bulk of your diet but it is an important and vital nutrient. This macronutrient is the body’s second fuel source and is also needed to help absorb different vitamins.
A personal idol of mine once said that “Food is meant to nourish your body. It’s not meant to be an afterthought. If food is an afterthought then your body will represent an afterthought.” Proper diet is vital for anyone in recovery. It is important to heal the body and mind as a whole. Each person is different but providing yourself with the right nutrients will help you greatly throughout your everyday life and recovery.
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