“First we eat, then we do everything else.” – M.F.K. Fisher, U.S. food writer
I used to go days without eating – no appetite, no hunger pains, no thoughts of food whatsoever.
That’s an addict’s life – a life lived by priorities, and the food was never one of them. If there had been a hamburger laced with meth, or a large milkshake flavored with bourbon, things would, no doubt, have been different.
It took a 6-month stay in an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center for me to undergo detox, learn the tools I needed to live a clean and sober life, get my mind and body sorted, and to get my appetite back.
That’s nearly 10 years ago now – 10 years of sobriety – and now, when I look back at my addicted days, I can see how the priorities I had back then so very nearly killed me.
Nowadays, my priorities are somewhat different, and good nutrition is way up that list, along with healthy exercise, living a life of mindfulness – living in the moment, and giving my best every day at the digital marketing agency I run.
In fact, I know that everything good in my life can’t happen if I do not prioritize good nutrition, exercise, and practicing a healthy mind. The part they play in my continued recovery is vital.
Whenever I hear the phrase “superfood,” I think of the opposite. I can’t help but think of the Morgan Spurlock film, “Super Size Me,” a documentary about a man (himself) eating only McDonald’s fast food for 30 days, and the nearly catastrophic effect it had on him. In those 30 days, he gained over 13% in body mass (it took him another 14 months to lose that weight gain), he suffered from severe mood swings and sexual dysfunction, his cholesterol went through the roof, and he was left with accumulated fat on his liver.
Documentary proof that you are what you eat. My rehab center nutritionist summed it up perfectly when she put that slightly differently by saying, “Eat crap, feel crap, honey.” What follows is based on a lesson she gave us over the course of a couple of weeks, a lesson I live by 5 essential superfoods for your addiction recovery diet.
Nuts & Seeds
Snacking is good. And smaller meals are good too, just more regularly during the day.
There was a time when I would never leave the place I was “living” without a fifth, a pipe, and a cigarette lighter in my jacket. Some people never leave without their house keys – as an alcoholic and drug addict, my priorities were somewhat different to normal folk.
Nowadays, you’ll always find me stepping out the front door, regardless of where I’m going (the office, the basketball court, the local swimming pool, even the coffee shop) carrying a bag of mixed nuts and seeds.
Jam-packed full of protein and the healthy fats we need, nuts, such as calcium-rich almonds, and seeds provide great energy top-ups – the bonus for recovering addicts is that they help with any cravings you may be experiencing. Fortunately, those are a real rarity for me now, but there was a time… And those healthy fats? They’re so good for your heart-health, and they help maintain bone strength and joints.
If nuts and seeds are a top-up, whole grains are a-filling the tank.
In the first few days after my medically-assisted drug detox, a nurse would actually sit with me while I forced food into my resisting belly. The majority of the food I was given was whole grains. It wasn’t so much to sate my appetite, of which I had very little – it was designed to give my body fuel, not just to work properly, but to recover properly.
Having energy is a chemically-induced illusion when you live your life as an alcoholic and a drug addict, and that’s a fact. Real energy is sourced from your nutrition, the fuel you put inside your body. Whole grains, such as beans, brown rice, pulses like lentils, and oats, are a superfood because they are your natural fuel.
For people like me, these protein-enriched whole grains are vital to the recovery process, stabilizing the blood sugar levels that previously were chaotic. Good nutrition also reduces the impact of any stresses that you may encounter, a trigger to relapse for any recovering addict.
Stop your laughing and hear me out.
Anybody with poor nutrition, be they an alcoholic, a drug addict, or a fast-food junkie, is losing out on the essential things we need to function properly, both mentally and physically – vitamins and minerals. Fortunately, someone invented the supplement, and the additive too, and that’s what we’re talking about here – you’re not required to put the green, pond-infused and decidedly smelly stuff you’re thinking of into a pan and then chomp away.
The two best examples of the benefits of algae as a superfood can be found with chlorella and spirulina, two super mineral-enriched forms of algae that can flush out extremely harmful toxins built up from years of addiction. You can’t eat yourself fit – but this is the next best thing.
Fruit & Vegetables
I ain’t your mama, but I bet she told you this.
Eat your vegetables – they’re good for you. Hungry? Have an apple. We have all had the lecture from our Moms about growing up big and strong, and Moms aren’t wrong. Good old fruit and vegetables like broccoli and sweet potatoes are a must. Full of the essential vitamins and minerals everybody needs, such as zinc and magnesium, they are vital in the process of eliminating toxins, repairing cell damage, and rejuvenating overworked organs that suffered from years of addiction.
If you have been through the drug detox process, you know better than anyone how it leaves you with a sweet tooth. The natural sweetness of fruits like blueberries can healthily help sate those cravings for sugar, as well as provide a vitamin-enriched snack.
Salmon, mackerel, sardines…. I’m getting hungry just typing that.
These types of oily fish, rich in omega-3, are also a great source of protein, vitamin D, some of the B vitamins, and selenium (a vital mineral for a healthy body). Enough said – they’re delicious.
Eat Well, Be Well
So, there you go, straight from the recovering addict’s diet sheet! Seriously, these 5 superfoods are really essential foods for you to be consuming if you are going through addiction recovery. The mind and body of an active addict are both a mess, and, along with exercise and obviously abstinence, the damage that has been done can start to be repaired.
Put these on your next shopping list:
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- (More) Fruit and vegetables, and
- Oily fish
Do you have any personal ideas about the best superfoods to eat during alcohol and drug detox? Have you found a superfood that has had an extra positive effect? Please feel free to leave us a comment below.