Overcoming Addiction Cravings With Nutrition
As the chef at The Foundry and someone who has overcome addiction to celebrate four years of sobriety, I have seen why nutrition is such an important topic for those in recovery. When in the throes of addiction, we usually don’t care about the negative effects our substance abuse has on the mind and body. My intention is to help educate, inform, and explore how we can improve our lives through nutrition in recovery.
The first topic to address is one everyone is familiar with: cravings. Whether it be for chocolate, nicotine, salty snacks or alcohol we all have experienced cravings in our lives. The difficulty about handling these cravings in sobriety is that we as addicts need instant gratification. Cravings are a signal from your body telling you that it needs something, and your brain recognizes these needs in the way you usually fulfill them. If you always eat candy bars, when you experience a sugar craving your brain will think of candy bars first. If you start satisfying that sugar craving a banana or green smoothie, your brain will begin craving these healthier options when your blood sugar drops. This is part of a lifestyle change. The goal is to live healthier and as your brain chemistry changes, your health will change as well.
Another option is to practice moderation and upgrade your favorite snacks to healthier options. Going back to our candy bar example, instead of eating processed refined sugars, corn syrup and chemicals, snack on a few bites of fair trade organic dark chocolate for a “healthier” treat. Chocolate is still chocolate, so if you can opt for fresh fruit instead, that would be even better. You don’t need to starve yourself of your favorite snacks, just try to find the most natural, whole food version of what you are craving and maintain portion control. This will help with satiation and give your body the nutrients it needs. If you can learn how to make the snacks you prefer, even better. Not only will you impress your friends, you’ll learn in the process.
If your cabinets are filled with cookies and chips, this can seem overwhelming. To help you, I have provided a food craving roadmap to help you understand what your body is actually asking for during a craving.
At The Foundry, we incorporate all of this information into our meal planning and nutrition education at our residential treatment center in Colorado. It’s important to us that we help you as much as possible on your recovery journey, and for some that can include cooking lessons and being introduced to new foods. As they say, if you teach a man to fish...
Hopefully this blog has helped to answer any questions you had in regards to what cravings mean and what healthy options are in terms of satisfying them. Remember to practice self-control, and moderation and you will be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
-Eric Powers, Chef of The Foundry