Whether you are detoxing at home (not recommended) or at a treatment center, proper hydration and nutrition are essential for reclaiming your health. While detox facilities such as those offered by Harmony Recovery Center typically offer patients healthy food options, no one can force you to eat properly. Neglecting to do so can, unfortunately, lead to an intensification of withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.
It’s also important to note that although the acute withdrawal phase only lasts a few days, fully adjusting mentally and physically with alcohol can last much longer. For this reason, maintaining healthy habits such as eating well can help stave off cravings and place a person in a better emotional state to cope with stresses and triggers that might otherwise lead to relapse.
A popular tool used in addiction and recovery programs is known as “HALT.” This acronym stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. It suggests that a person should consider if any of these factors are present when a person is presented with thoughts of relapse. It is based on the idea that when someone’s basic needs aren’t met, the ability to reason and make sound decisions is impaired.
Hunger must be sated and in a healthy way. By not fulfilling your body’s nutritional needs, you may lose the ability to function up to your potential. It’s also safe to say that hunger and being tired (the H and T in HALT) are closely related, and not eating properly can lead to fatigue, which in turn can lead to cravings for junk food or high-calorie meals.
For these reasons, it is not hard to see why eating balanced meals during recovery can be vital in avoiding relapse. The following dietary tips can be very helpful in relieving some discomfort during acute withdrawal, as well as promote long-term sobriety.
Hydration is vital for people in general, and it is especially essential when withdrawing from alcohol because it is a substance that has dehydrating properties. In clinical environments, people undergoing detox may be given water intravenously, and are encouraged to drink lots of fluids that will promote proper hydration. If you are detoxing at home, you should follow this advice, as well.
Fruits and Vegetables
Due to having high amounts of fiber, fruits and vegetables digest quickly and may stave off hunger more effectively than some other foods. Also, people detoxing from alcohol often have cravings for sugar. This is because alcohol consumption can affect blood sugar levels significantly. Fruits contain sugar, which can fulfill sugar cravings and may be healthier alternatives to other sweet foods. Experts have suggested that among the most beneficial are raspberries, strawberries, oranges, bananas, and pears.
Carbohydrates are essential for recovery, as they provide both fiber and energy, which people undergoing detox may be lacking. While refined grains (e.g., white bread) also have carbohydrates, they are less than ideal in the long-run. Whole grains contain more fiber and can result in feeling fuller and may be less likely to cause digestive issues.
Prolonged, heavy alcohol consumption often leads to a lack of vitamin B, so it is vital to replenish it in the body’s supply. Vitamin B supplements can be taken, though it is recommended that people going through detox eat foods high in vitamin B, which include a wide variety of options, such as the following:
- Whole grains, such as brown rice and some bread
- Meat, such as poultry or beef
- Eggs and dairy products, such as milk and cheese
- Legumes, such as beans and lentils
- Seeds and nuts, such as sunflower seeds and almonds
- Dark, leafy vegetables, such as spinach
- Fruits, such as citrus, avocados, and bananas
As you may notice, many of the same foods high in vitamin B are recommended for an alcohol detox diet for other reasons, as well.
During detox, many alcoholics have a decreased appetite or have difficulties with digestion or keeping food down. Low-fat proteins that are also high in fiber can help them feel full, and may positively affect mood and energy, and decrease the risk of relapse. Such foods include fish, skinless poultry, and lean beef.
It is thought that adding cayenne pepper to foods can mitigate alcohol cravings, relieve nausea, and increase appetite. These effects can be beneficial for people undergoing detox, especially those struggling to eat. Cayenne pepper may also help reduce the irritability and anxiety that are frequently associated with withdrawal.
Getting Treatment for Alcoholism
Harmony Recovery Center offers outpatient detox services in addiction to partial hospitalization and outpatient treatment programs. We provide individualized, comprehensive care to people struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues.
If you are ready to begin your recovery journey, contact us today to discover how we can help!