4 Ways Changing Your Diet Changes Your Thinking During and After Recovery

Choosing a non 12 step drug rehabilitation center to help a loved one overcome an addiction to drugs is a serious decision. There are many drug rehab programs in California, but not all of them focus on the whole person. Along with helping someone cleanse the body of harmful drugs and alcohol, it is vital to provide behavioral modification counseling, exercise programs and education about making dietary changes that support life-long sobriety and a healthy lifestyle.

Elevate, like other drug rehab facilities that treat clients with a holistic approach, suggest people look for drug and alcohol treatment centers with dietary programs designed around evidence-based principles that enhance health and vitality.

While comparing, drug rehab treatment options, remember that proper nutrition doesn’t just improve physical and mental health, it actually changes the way a person thinks during and after recovery.

Understanding Reward-Center Responses to Food & Drugs Changes the Way You Think About Food

Holistic drug rehab facilities today incorporate evidence-based nutrition guidelines into customized treatment plans.

For example, limiting – or even completely removing – refined sugar in the daily diet is just as important for the person seeking sobriety as helping patients navigate their drug rehab experience without substituting a “less harmful” medication for their preferred drug of choice.

Researchers exploring Relationships Among the Brain, the Digestive System, and Eating Behavior found the brain’s dopamine release to ingesting super-sweet foods is remarkably consistent with responses to alcohol and other drugs. Over-consuming sugar-laden foods produces a response similar to the dopamine release in brain regions, such as the nucleus accumbens, activated by reward-seeking behavior.

While the studies were conducted on rats in a laboratory, and not on human, these studies suggest nutrition plays a vital role in the addiction recovery journey, especially since it appears that over time, the reward sensations associated with certain foods decrease, and addiction takes hold.

When sugar is withdrawn, lab animals exhibit many of the same symptoms of withdrawal – anxiety, distress and physical changes – seen in humans during drug rehabilitation center detox programs when the supply of morphine, nicotine, cocaine, and other drugs is interrupted.

One goal of a healthy nutrition plan is ensuring drug rehab treatment participants learn to recognize:

“There are multiple reasons why people eat—for hunger but also for hedonic purposes, that is, not because they are hungry but because they derive pleasure from eating or tasting a food.” – Nicole Avena, Ph.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York

When people eat for nutrition, because they are hungry or need to manage health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, they begin to think about things other than the need for another fix. They can focus on rebuilding relationships, career development, improving overall health through exercise and other areas of life that substance abuse put on the back burner.

Exploring Brain Inflammation & Drug Treatment Rehabilitation Recovery Solutions

While avoiding sugary snacks and high-calorie, low nutrition menu items reduce the risks of developing an unhealthy compulsion to eat certain foods, there are other reasons to eliminate sugar, processed foods, and even some vegetables that many people consider healthy.

Extensive research confirms that brain inflammation is responsible for, or at least significantly contributes to, many chronic health conditions, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Asthma,
  • Allergies,
  • Lupus,
  • Arthritis,
  • Hypothyroidism,
  • And, other debilitating, life-altering diseases

Psychiatrists, neurologist, and dietitians working in drug rehab centers and alcohol treatment centers also understand that healthy food choices play an integral role in the recovery journey and life beyond the in-patient treatment center setting.

Inflammation retards the body’s natural healing processes. It has been proven that unchecked inflammation may damage tissues, leading to conditions that negatively impact cognition and mental health such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, autism and depression. Some people have found that proper nutrition reduces anxiety and ADHD symptoms.

Because brain inflammation makes it harder to concentrate and focus, evidence-based nutrition includes a wide range of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and, if needed, dietary supplements that reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Many experts believe it is best to limit or eliminate the following foods from the daily diet.

  • Refined sugars
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Animal fats
  • High-acid foods
  • Dairy – especially hard cheeses
  • All processed foods and refined flour (cookies, pasta, white bread, packaged dinners with preservatives, dyes, and chemicals)

Some drug rehabilitation centers offer food allergy testing since many people have hidden allergies that may contribute to brain fog and inflammation.

Reducing inflammation throughout the body provides physical and mental benefits. Arthritis sufferers often report that they hurt less and have better mobility after a few days or weeks on an anti-inflammatory diet. Other people say a new way of eating helps them take less TYPE 2 diabetes medicines. When the physical body is stronger, and the brain is working better, recovering addicts have less to worry about and more time to live life to its fullest.

Instead of thinking about how to satisfy the reward-center pathways, people can think about spending more time doing the things they enjoy, spending time with family, learning a new skill or just spending time quietly watching the sunset.

Diet & Nutrition

Rethinking The Self-Image: Diet & Nutrition Influences the Way We Think About Ourselves

Along with changing the way a person thinks about what goes into his or her body and improving cognition and understanding, proper nutritional also changes the way one feels about oneself. Prolonged substance abuse wreaks havoc on a body. Skin becomes weak, tears easily and may develop sores and acne. Many people, especially people who enter drug treatment facilities to overcome meth addiction, have serious dental and oral hygiene problems. Some have been so focused on access their drug, or drugs, of choice they are emaciated.  

While weeks, months or years of malnutrition destroys the body, proper nutrition helps the body heal. Skin becomes clearer, in many cases, rashes, lesions, and other skin conditions respond to healthy foods and supplements, and elasticity returns.

The time spent in recovery reshaping one’s inner image is time well spent. Proper diet and exercise change the physical appearance, elevating self-esteem and stimulating feelings of renewed hope. Combined with meditation, yoga, adventure therapy, and other alternative therapies, dietary changes allow the recovering addict to grow personally and get to know themselves better. After all, the drug rehab experience is about more than escaping the chains of addictions. It is about rediscovering the joy of living and exploring new passions beyond the confines of drug rehab programs, strict schedules, and constant supervision.

Shaping the Future: New Thoughts Expand Post-Drug Rehab Treatment Possibilities

There are many fascinating studies about the body’s response to food. Research shows that the more scientists discover about brain function, the more evidence there is that new interventions in drug rehab centers are possible to reduce the long-term damage from drug and alcohol abuse. Helping those who struggle with addiction take control of their health with wise dietary decisions is the first step.

Asserting more control over what goes into the body – whether it be controlling recreational or obsessive drug use or how much sugar and processed foods one consumes – reinforces positive behavior in other areas.

Working with nutritionists and dietitians in a drug treatment center environmental empowers clients to look beyond three square meals and snacks each day. Consider these findings:

  1. Diets high in sugar directly impact insulin receptors in the brain, inhibiting spatial learning and memory skills. Adding Omega 3 supplements may slightly reduce the impact; however, eliminating excess refined sugar while adding healthy fresh fruit and vegetables improves memory and learning functions.
  2. Skipping meals often means that people eat more at their next meal, and often they add calorie-dense food choices that satisfy the reward-center.

These facts explain why clients in drug rehab programs receive counseling and education during treatment that helps them make better dietary choices once they are on their own, planning daily meals that consistently fuel their body and their brain.

It is important to eat the right foods, in the correct portion sizes, and at reasonable intervals to ensure health and wellness. During recovery, drug rehab facilities support clients with after-care services that include meal planning and education. This strategy overlaps with other treatment protocol such as CBT and mindfulness activities that encourage former drug users to intentional think about the way everything they put in their bodies makes them feel.

One recent study that focused Americans’ relationships with food, revealed the average American spends roughly 240 hours each year thinking about food. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – spending the equivalent of 10 days each year thinking solely on the diet. Thinking about whether certain foods make one feel sluggish or energized, sleepy or alert, satiated or hungry, provides clues about changes that may be necessary to support a thriving, sober lifestyle.

Diet Changes During and After Recovery

Changing One’s Diet Changes One’s Thinking During and After Recovery

When drug misuse turns to addiction, everything changes, including the brain’s neurological function and performance. While a steady diet of drugs and alcohol diminish cognitive ability, changing your diet restores functionality and the way one thinks about many things.

The good news is that when diet and nutrition improve, most people think differently about themselves and the world around them. Dietary changes in drug rehab programs:

  • Retrain the neurological and emotional responses to what cravings, environmental stimuli and sights and smells of certain foods.
  • Improve decision-making skills and reduce risks associated with risky behavior, as well as reducing inflammation which negatively impacts the whole body.
  • Restores a healthy self-image as a recovery addict regains muscle strength, mobility, clear skin and confidence.
  • Empowers clients to apply skills learned during meal planning activities to other areas of their life, giving them more control over the personal actions and activities during and after recovery.

The Elevate team works closely with each client to develop a nutrition and meal plan based on their overall health goals and life principles. While all eating plans include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats from tree nuts, omega-3 fatty acids from fish sources and vegetables such as avocados, special dietary needs of vegans, vegetarians and people with underlying medical conditions also shape the final design.

By designing a drug rehabilitation center nutritional plan that is flexible enough to adjust to work, school, exercise, and family routines, people have a tool to fuel their body, mind, and spirit for success in the real world, during recovery and for the rest of one’s life.

For most people who live with a severe addiction to drugs or alcohol, there isn’t much time or energy to think about anything other than gaining access to their drug of choice. After detox, after the body begins the healing process, thoughts of life after substance abuse emerge. The diet is a very important element to achieving – and maintaining sobriety.

When the time comes to explore drug rehab centers, contact an Elevate admission counselor to discuss our programs and treatment solutions.

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