By: Jennifer McGregor
When faced with addictive behaviors, small health steps, like eating well and exercising, might seem like a non-priority. But increasing evidence suggests that the way you treat your body (and mind) today can influence your addiction in the future. Fortunately, it is not that difficult – or costly – to give yourself the fuel you need to move forward in a healthy and positive way. Here are a few tips.
Before you can make any changes to your life, it’s important to understand addiction. According to Harvard Health Publishing, addiction is more complicated than originally believed. The university notes that addiction is all about feeling good and then feeling better. In essence, it is a disease of the mind that forces someone to continually chase the next level of euphoria. Often, this is in the form of drugs, alcohol, sex, or gambling.
However, addiction can also be a reliance on “healthy” vices as well. There are many people who are addicted to relationships, exercise, or other activities that, on the surface, seem harmless. The truth is that an over-reliance and continual game of cat and mouse with any sensation can be harmful.
Nutrition For A Healthy Body
Because addiction leads to chasing “good” feelings, it makes sense that providing the body with what it needs to feel good all the time can combat addictive tendencies. When you’re in the throes of addiction, there is a good chance you’re not eating well. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies, muscle degeneration, cognitive impairment, and other signs of malnutrition. As you enter into sobriety, eating whole, organic, and non-GMO foods can quickly improve these symptoms, leaving you less likely to chase a temporary fix in the form of a high.
It is not just what you eat but what you put on your plate that matters. The Alliance for Addiction Solutions points out that people in substance abuse recovery often turn to addictive foods full of sugar and starch as a way to cope with no longer using drugs and alcohol. The problem with this is that if you continually fill your body with fast food, boxed snacks, and take out, you are not fueling it – rather, just satiating for the moment. Learn to replace processed foods with healthy alternatives.
If you like fruit snacks, for example, eat dried fruit instead. While still sticky and sweet, dried whole fruit contains the vitamins and fiber that your body needs. Fruit snacks contain added sugars, which are known to the World Health Organization to cause obesity and other significant health problems, including diabetes.
There are other factors that play a role in your addictive behaviors. Your environment and activity level are two examples. If your home is filled with negativity and bad energy, such as clutter and stagnant air, you likely won’t be in a good mood. And when you are in a bad mood, you will seek those good feelings that your addictive vice brings. Change things up at home by cleaning and letting go of items you no longer need. Change the curtains, open the door, and let natural light and fresh air in. Doing this once a week will keep your home feeling warm and happy.
As for exercise, the generally accepted advice is 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. This doesn’t mean that you have to invest in expensive gym memberships or equipment. Even something as simple as practicing yoga can help you meet your fitness goals. An added perk of yoga is that it forces you to be mindful of your body, which can help you recognize what it needs so that you are not constantly captivated with the idea of feeling a false definition of good.
The point is that everything you do matters. When you are on the road to recovery, eating well, exercising, and knowing how addiction works can help you stay on a positive trajectory. So grab an apple, strap on your sneakers, and don’t be afraid to take the first steps toward a healthy and sober life.
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