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Importance of Nutrition and Exercise in Addiction Recovery

Regular exercise and eating nutritiously are important throughout our lifetime. However, there’s never a time where these things are more important than during the addiction recovery process. When you make a habit out of these things, you’re more likely to feel better during recovery and avoid any future relapses. 

How Does Nutrition Help You In Recovery?

Alcohol abuse limits the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and damages the pancreas and liver. Studies show that people suffering from drug or alcohol addiction typically suffer from nutrient deficiencies. It’s common to have deficiencies in folic acid, Vitamin B6, and Thiamine. Opioid and stimulant abuse also cause nutritional deficiencies. Eating healthy foods is essential for helping the body heal while recovering from addiction.

Eating lots of complex carbohydrates is helpful during recovery because they help the body produce serotonin, which helps reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol. Many people with addictions are used to using drugs or alcohol for coping with negative emotions. Serotonin helps regulate the mood and helps people avoid turning to substances. If you eat a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains, you’re likely to get enough complex carbs.

Amino acids are also essential in recovery because they help the body produce dopamine. Without sufficient amounts of dopamine, many people experience more cravings and negative moods. Amino acids are found in protein, so be sure to get enough protein. You can add more quinoa, turkey, eggs, fish, and legumes to get healthy sources of protein. 

Caffeine and sugar can both interrupt the neurotransmitters in the brain, causing a destabilized mood. It’s best to limit these things as much as possible while in recovery.

What Does Exercise Do For You In Recovery?

The benefits of exercise during addiction recovery are almost endless. Creating a long-term habit of exercise is one of the most powerful tools for avoiding relapses. Exercise helps decrease both anxiety and other withdrawal symptoms. Exercise also activates the body’s neurotransmitters and can trigger a release of serotonin and dopamine. This helps people in recovery regulate mood and offers a substitute coping strategy, when they may have previously turned to substances. 

Research has found that exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and improves the quality of sleep. Getting enough sleep is important during recovery. A lack of sleep can increase anxiety, depression, and mood swings. Inability to stabilize mood is a strong cause of relapses, which is why people in recovery should prioritize sleep. Exercise is the perfect tool for prioritizing sleep. 

Nutritious Foods To Try

An important thing to remember when making healthier choices is that you should find nutritious foods that you enjoy eating. Eating food you hate is not sustainable and will likely lead you to turn to junk food. You can get creative to find recipes you enjoy. Here are a few healthy options:

Salads

Salads are a favorite for many nutritious eaters because they’re typically quick and easy to prepare. Some people think they don’t like salads, but there are so many kinds to try. Most people will be able to find one that they enjoy. Check out these salad recipes for new ideas. 

Smoothies

If salads really aren’t your thing, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat nutritious meals! Find something else to add to your diet. Smoothies are a great option because they’re so versatile, they’re easy to make, and you can pack all types of fruits and veggies in them. They’re a great substitute to turn to when you’re craving ice cream or other sweet treats. 

Remember that not all smoothies are created equal, though. Often, when you grab a smoothie at a place like Jamba Juice, it’s packed with sugar. It’s best if you can make your smoothies at home or buy them from a place that offers options without high amounts of sugar. Try these smoothie recipes at home to incorporate more nutrient-dense ingredients in your smoothies. 

Pizza

No, you didn’t misread that. You really can eat pizza while trying to improve your nutrition. If pizza has always been your favorite junk food, then you’re in luck. With just a little bit of effort, you can change it from a junk food into a superfood. 

The great thing about pizza is you can put just about anything on top of it. You can add tons of vegetables to make this comfort food more nutrient-dense. It’s best to avoid going out for pizza because homemade pizza will usually have less sugar and preservatives. Try one of these healthy pizza recipes while cooking at home. 

Exercises To Add To Your Routine

Just like with nutrition, you want to create a sustainable habit of exercise, so it’s important to find activities you enjoy. You might like some of the most common activities, like jogging, hiking, or lifting weights. If none of those sound right for you, try some of the following activities. 

Dance Workout

Tons of people who can’t stand exercise have found that dancing is the exception. You can pick your favorite type of music and work up a sweat while having fun. Dancing is an excellent aerobic exercise and can work many different muscle groups. Try an online dance workout to get started.

It’s equally important when starting a new exercise routine to stretch regularly and increase the level of the activity slowly, so you don’t injure yourself.

HIIT

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. These workouts are growing in popularity because they’re high-energy and help people avoid boredom. The interval style of the workout helps people stay motivated throughout the workout. Try this online HIIT workout to see if it’s for you. 

Yoga 

Some people don’t like aerobic workouts, so they feel there aren’t exercise options for them. Yoga is perfect if that’s the way you feel. It increases strength and flexibility while being peaceful and relaxing. Not only is yoga good for the body, but it also helps with mindfulness and decreasing stress. Yoga is very popular, so there are tons of online workouts for you to try. 

It’s important when trying any new exercise to warm up before you start and begin with a low intensity before increasing to something more strenuous. This will help you avoid injury and keep you healthy and able to continue exercising regularly in the long term.

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