Making the decision to stay sober is one of the most important steps you can take on the road to wellness and a productive life. Avoiding alcohol and drugs is essential for addiction recovery, but it is not just what we give up that makes a critical difference, but also what we add to our lives.
For example, healthy nutritional habits can be of enormous benefit when it comes to reducing addictive urges and promoting greater emotional and spiritual resilience. To begin with, many of the foods we consume trigger the same neural pathways associated with addiction – the pleasure and reward systems that make up the limbic system.
To be certain, snacking on a candy bar is a far better choice than having a drink that could lead to many. But the so-called “sugar high” we get from eating glucose-rich processed foods invariably leads to a “sugar hangover” too. Therefore, eating better can help us avoid that lazy feeling we sometimes get in the afternoon following a junk food binge.
Understanding how our bodies process certain foods can help us make more informed choices, particularly ones that will support greater mental and physical equilibrium in the first place.
No doubt, many of us turn to comfort foods to try and alleviate the daily anxieties we all face. When the body is stressed, it produces the hormone cortisol, which in turn triggers food cravings. Sugary foods produce a short-term fix by immediately elevating our mood, but the initial high is usually followed by a crash, as blood-glucose levels plummet later on. That’s because processed foods rarely contain much fiber, which would help glucose levels taper off more gradually.
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide energy that is housed in cellulose and fiber, which allows the glucose to be digested more gradually. That way, blood glucose levels don’t spike as much. Consequently, natural snacks – avocados, berries and citrus fruits, in particular – help keep us on an even keel. These foods are rich in Vitamin C too, which help us replenish neurotransmitters like serotonin that can elevate our mood.
Addiction recovery is a process that requires many allies. Faith, exercise, family, and a supportive addiction rehab community are just a few of the elements that can support sober living. Good food can also be part of the mix. In sum, eating healthier – which means more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods – can help reinforce our efforts to stay sober.