Matthew Lovitt, Master Nutrition Therapist, is back for more! Last month he shared with us the complicated relationship between sugar and sobriety. This month he is here to discuss the perfect diet for recovery and life!
We’ve all been there, searching for something, anything to help us change the way we look, feel, and, perhaps, relate to the world. Before sobriety, we may sought comfort in drugs. Now that we are clean, we may turn to food. And, although food may provide some relief from the everyday distractions of life, it is often only temporary and may further complicate the recovery process.
There is a solution!
Finding the perfect diet to fully nourish our unique physical, emotional, and spiritual needs can help us overcome the tumult of recovery and enhance our quality of life.
No Such Thing as Perfect
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all, “perfect” diet. We are all unique in our dietary needs and the foods that work best for some may not work well for others. Nature and nurture impart a specific set of features that make us distinct and shape our physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. And, although there are many diets out there that are promoted as “best”, the real perfect diet is unique to an individual’s current health status, goals, belief systems, and means.
And, let’s not forget taste preference. Most of us have grown accustomed to specific tastes, flavors, and textures. It may be the product of our upbringing, culture, environment, or any combination of the above, but preferences can have a huge influence on our dietary decision-making.
Most importantly, the majority of us are addicts or alcoholics in recovery, which means we must also consider the ill effects that chronic, excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol may have had on our body and brain.
Find Your Optimal Diet
There is no such thing as perfect, but there is optimal. I use the term optimal, because it emphasizes bio-individuality, our unique biological make-up, and the need for a consistent awareness of how foods affect our mind, body, and soul. To me, an optimal diet is mindful, diverse, sustainable, and whole. Let’s look at each of those variables in turn:
- Mindful – eat foods that support your physical, emotional, and spiritual well being. If you black beans make your belly bloat, it’s probably a good idea to avoid beans. Ethically, if you are against consuming animal products, it wouldn’t be a good idea to include them in your plan.
- Diversity – eat all the colors of the rainbow, every food under the sun. Taking in a wide variety of plants and animals ensures that you are getting a wide variety of nutrients – proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals – which improves health, recovery, and wellbeing.
- Sustainability – eat foods that are practical, economical, and delicious. It is more realistic to expect you to maintain a healthy eating regiment comprised of foods that you are comfortable preparing, purchasing, and enjoying on a regular basis.
- Whole – eat foods that are consumed in a form close to that which they are found in nature. I’m pretty sure you won’t find a donut, Dorito, or double cheeseburger growing on a farm. But, you will find daikon, dandelion greens, and dates, which I would encourage you to eat all day, every dayHow we incorporate these critical “perfect recovery diet” concepts is largely depends on all the unique factors that make us us. But, some practical guidance to get us started on our healthy eating journey may include:
- Eat breakfast. Preferably within an hour of waking. You may not be hungry first thing in the morning, but if you make it a habit your body will come around. Fake it ‘till you make it, right?
- Go full fat. Despite popular belief, fat is an essential part of our diet and eating the right kinds in the right amounts will greatly improve your health. For the addict and alcoholic in recovery, it may be important to remember that the brain is 75% fat and certain dietary fats (omega-3 fatty acids) go a long way in repairing the damage that addiction may inflict.
- Limit sugar. I’ve written extensively on the subject of sugar – even here on Addicaid – but in the simplest of terms, sugar can mimic the effects of drugs and alcohol, which may compromise our sobriety.
There is no such thing as a perfect diet, but striving for a mindful, diverse, sustainable, and whole food routine can greatly improve the quality of your recovery and life!