First of all, it is more important to get healthy and start feeling happy than to worry about how to avoid weight gain in recovery. People who have just given up an important source of pleasure may not be ready to make other drastic lifestyle changes. It is more important that you remain sober than that you stick to a strict diet.
Addiction and Physical Appearance
It’s important to realize the relationship between substance abuse and physical appearance. Substance abuse harms the body in two ways: the substance, itself, affects the body and substance abuse over time leads to negative lifestyle changes, such as irregular eating and poor diet. In these ways, you and those close to you probably noticed extreme weight loss, dark circles and sunken eyes. When I was in my active addiction, I was continually losing weight. Everyone would constantly ask me what was wrong to which I always replied that I was under a lot of stress. Even my therapist confronted me, “what’s with the weight loss?” before I fell completely off the radar and into that black hole of addiction.
Weight Gain in Recovery: It’s Not a Bad Thing
Recovery from substance abuse positively affects the body in many ways, including metabolism, organ function, and mental well-being. Proper nutrition can help the healing process from the toll active addiction takes on your mind and body. It’s important to get nutrients in order to supply your body with energy – they provide substances to build and maintain healthy organs as well as fight off infection.
Most likely, if you were like me, you weren’t paying much attention to your diet because drugs came first. After a while, your brain goes into starvation mode. Once you get clean, and start eating again, your brain is like, “well, we better hold onto everything in case that starvation period happens again.” That is basically where the rapid weight gain comes from. In my case, I was still losing weight in treatment because I hadn’t eaten real, solid food in a long time. I couldn’t stomach it. The doctor at the treatment center put me on an appetite stimulant and that did the trick.
Healthy Habits Can Prevent Relapse
People with substance abuse are more likely to relapse when they have poor eating habits. People who have been addicted to drugs and alcohol can forget what it’s like to feel hungry and instead confuse this feeling with drug cravings. Stop and consider whether or not you are hungry if you start to experience cravings.
Generally, when people feel better in recovery, they are less likely to start using alcohol and drugs again. And because balanced nutrition helps improve mood and overall health, it is important to have a healthy diet in your recovery from alcohol and other drugs.
Follow these tips for a lasting and healthy recovery:
- Eat nutritious meals and snacks.
- Get physical activity and enough rest.
- Decrease caffeine intake and quit smoking, if possible.
- Talk to a counselor or therapist.
- Join a support group and go on a regular basis.
- Take supplements- vitamins and minerals, also natural sleep aids, such as melatonin if you have trouble sleeping
How To Avoid Weight Gain In Recovery
Appetite usually returns during recovery and so people in recovery are likely to overeat, especially if they were taking stimulants in their active addiction. Also consider that, during recovery from substance abuse, dehydration is common. Be sure to get enough fluids, especially water during and in between meals.
Avoid Weight Gain In Recovery: Tip One: Keep regular mealtimes. Be sure to eat healthy meals and snacks.
Avoid Weight Gain In Recovery: Tip Two: Eat a low-fat diet by avoiding high-calorie foods with low nutrition, such as sweets, if possible.
Avoid Weight Gain In Recovery: Tip Three: Increase intake of protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber.
Avoid Weight Gain In Recovery: Tip Four: Take vitamin and mineral supplements such as B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C – this has been found to be helpful during recovery.