In active addiction, the alcoholic or drug abuser often reacts to a feeling by using their drug of choice. They may have used alcohol to lower inhibitions, opiates as an escape, benzodiazepines when anxious or amphetamines to wake up.
In active recovery, one of the first challenges an addict faces is that they start to feel feelings – and they are unable to cope with these feelings the way they used to by muting them with a substance. Soon they learn valuable tools that help them get through moods and emotions, many of which are learned in therapy or through a 12 step program.
One tool of recovery that is often overlooked is one’s diet and how it can assist and enhance their recovery by impacting their mood and overall balance. Here are six ways the sustenance of food can help aid problem feelings:
1. Problem: Brain Fog Solution: Water
In recovery, we often hear people say, “the fog has lifted” referring to getting clean and sober. Depending on the extent of one’s drug abuse, this may take awhile. One way to speed things up is to stay hydrated. The recommended amount of water can be calculated by taking your weight, dividing it in half and drinking that number in ounces every day.
2. Problem: Bad Mood Solution: Coconut
Coconut contains potassium, which is essential for supporting feel good chemicals like endorphins. They also are packed with fiber and protein, which helps you, stay “regular,” energetic and full for longer. Just a handful of coconut shavings on cereal or a cup of coconut milk or water may do the trick.
3. Problem: Stress Solution: Dark Chocolate
Dark pure chocolate (not milk chocolate) assists the brain in releasing endorphins – the great mood enhancers. Endorphins also attack cortisol, the stress hormone in the body by slowing it down and eradicating the stress it creates. However, with any food item, moderation is key…especially with sweets that can elevate your blood sugar.
4. Problem: Hopelessness Solution: Kale
If you are feeling like the future is grim, the antioxidants and carotenoids in kale may transform you into an optimist. A study looking at extremely optimistic people revealed that they had high levels of antioxidants and carotenoids in their blood. If kale is too bitter for you, most dark leafy greens will do. The phytonutrients they contain may just restore hope.
5. Problem: Sadness/Depression Solution: Salmon
The omega-3s in salmon do for the brain what an oil change does for a car – allowing it to perform optimally. Regular consumption of omega-3s help balance the brain’s communication. That is why scientists are looking at Omega 3s as a cure for clinical depression.
6. Problem: Anxiousness Solution: Green Tea
If you are angry or anxious, the theanine in green tea is a natural soother. Although often caffeinated, green tea simultaneously provides a calming effect while helping you focus. Achieving calmness while being efficient seems ideal for the anxiety ridden or those with too much on their plate.
If you are confused, anxious, depressed or hopeless, try one of the above. Want the cumulative effect? The sum total of all these would actually make an excellent meal…in fact here is a recipe for coconut salmon and kale.