Nutrition and Substance Use Disorders
Proper nutrition plays a significant role in the treatment of substance use disorders. Unfortunately, self-care habits often take a back seat to the primary concerns of therapy and abstinence. However, learning good nutrition, exercise and sleep habits work in tandem with other treatments to help heal the body and brain from damage caused by substance abuse, help to reduce cravings, and help stabilize moods - all of which promote the primary goal of recovery and increase its likelihood.
Substance abuse typically leads to poor nutrition. This can be related the inadequate consumption of food or choosing foods that lack necessary nutrients. Addictive substances can decrease or increase appetite as well as disturb metabolic and neuroendocrine regulation, and may impair nutrient digestion, absorption and processing. Both macro- and micronutrient deficiencies can compromise immunity, jeopardize physical and mental health, and damage vital organs including the brain.
An unbalanced diet, irregular meal patterns, low blood sugar, dehydration, and high levels of caffeine can all result in low energy levels as well as mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety which increase cravings and likelihood of relapse.
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and nutrition counseling can be utilized to aid individuals to return to a state of health and wholeness.
Proper nourishment can help heal the mind and body, stabilize moods and reduce stress, decrease cravings, and promote a healthy lifestyle and self-care. Focusing on nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help improve immunity and heal damage by reducing oxidative stress, decreasing inflammation, and providing essential nutrients and antioxidants.
Individuals struggling with substance use disorders need regularly scheduled, balanced meals to aid in a successful recovery. This is important to stabilize blood sugar levels and regulate deficiencies, both of which can affect moods and cravings. Generally a diet of 50-60% complex carbohydrates, 10-20% protein, and 20-30% fat helps provide the balance needed for recovery. Often people who struggle with substance use disorders turn to food and begin craving highly palatable foods which are generally low in nutrients, such as sweets and high fat foods. Having a healthy meal pattern that includes balance and variety with a focus on nutrient dense foods can help stave off these cravings. To help maintain blood sugar levels it's important to eat every 3-5 hours during the day. Generally, a good guideline is three meals and one to three snacks daily that incorporate multiple food groups.
At Sunspire Health Hyde Park, we work with patients seeking recovery from eating disorders and/or substance use disorders. For those patients suffering from both disorders, treating them concurrently is paramount to their opportunity for live in long term recovery. Hyde Park's expert staff devise individualized plans for each patient, offering them abstinence-, evidence-based treatment programs.