Category Archives: Diet

Addiction and Diet

Boost Your Self Esteem

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“As the holidays come and go, so do the cookies, sweets and feasts. Leftovers fill the fridge and your stomach is full of fatty food. A lot of people gain weight during this time of year because of the celebrations. Its hard not to overeat when your around family that won’t judge you and food that tastes all to good. And just like most of the population in the U.S., we struggle body image issues. While with the new year comes our promises to stay fit and clean in 2014, we can make it a goal to feel better about ourselves in our own body. Working the steps help us cope with the low self-esteem that our addiction may have left us with as we reflect on
our past, but we can also apply these suggestions when letting go of our negative body image.  This is an article from the Healthy Weight Network about how to conquer your self esteem and body image issues.” -Shanti, Robyn

Low Self EsteemIt’s about you

You’re okay just as you are. You are a unique person, capable and loveable, with special talents and strengths, with inner wisdom and creativity – a human being of value. So accept and respect yourself now.Get comfortable with the real you, inside and out. Accept your size and shape, your feelings, yourself, unconditionally. Honor your character, talents and achievements.

No need to work on perfecting yourself. In fact, it can be self-defeating, and a big waste of time. Perfection is a myth. It doesn’t exist in the real world and it certainly doesn’t exist in human appearance. Many women who struggle with eating, weight and body image spend inordinate amounts of energy trying to change their appearance. They make their bodies their life’s work; they put their lives on hold “waiting to be thin.”

Instead of trying to meet society’s impossible standards of female beauty, give yourself affirmations on how special you really are. Find the peace and serenity of your life, buried though it may be under many layers. Accept this place where you are on your life’s journey and live with joy and relish.

  • Recognize that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes. Real beauty encompasses what’s inside, your zest for life, your fun-loving spirit, a smile that lights up your face, your compassion for others, says Carol Johnson, author of Self-Esteem Comes in all Sizes.It’s being friendly, generous and loving, having strength and courage, and respecting yourself just as you are — goals that we all can achieve.
  • Your body is okay. Your size is okay. The good news is that you can change how you feel about your body by changing your self-talk. If you are especially concerned over weight, understand that your body has an opinion of what it should weigh at this time in your life. It regulates weight around a setpoint that may be nearly impossible to change. Recognize how destructive the obsession to be thin is and how it harms the people you love, especially children. Your weight is not a measure of your self-worth. Accepting this can give you new freedom.Cat as Lion
  • Be size positive. Set an example of respect for size diversity. People naturally come in different sizes and builds, and that’s okay. If you are a large woman it’s especially important in our size-focused society to be a role model who radiates confidence, self-respect and friendliness for other adults and children who, sadly, may fear going out in public. Or, if you are a thin person, keeping thin through semi-starvation, remember this means an anorexic personality (anxiety, irritability, depression, inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, isolation from friends and family, preoccupation with food, loneliness, lack of compassion and generosity, self-centeredness), weak and brittle bones, and other serious health issues. Our society is currently obsessed with thinness, which hurts us all. When will this nation come to its senses, reject size prejudice, accept a wider range of shapes and sizes, and focus on health rather than weight? We each can do our part to bring about this healthful change.
  • Dress for successDress in ways that make you feel good, that make your own statement and, most of all, that fit now. Clean out your closet of clothes that don’t fit; clothes you can wear only during dieting bouts. Give away or store too-small clothing. This makes room for clothes you will enjoy wearing.
  • Want what you have – contentment. T he secret to happiness is not to get what you want, but to want what you have . Though much underrated today, contentment has long been valued in world religions and philosophy. Realizing the full measure of our abundance can bring true happiness.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Have you inventoried the richness of your life assets? Try it. Add to that inventory and each day write down three things you are grateful for in your gratitude journal. It can be humbling to realize the abundance of riches we have, and how much we take it for granted. The everyday joys of family, friends, home, community, country, health, work and the wonder of nature are all around us. Contemplating this can bring you deep serenity.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation relieves stress and enhances our lives. Stress overload is linked to many health problems, such as exhaustion, insomnia, headache, diarrhea, anxiety, restlessness, depression, abuse of alcohol, increased risk of heart attack and weakened immune system. Relaxing is like re-booting a stressed-out computer. Everything works better afterward.
  • Choose self-care. Set aside time every day for yourself. T ake time for self-care and healing. Invest in small things that enrich your life: listening to music, reading a novel, napping after lunch, laughing with your spouse or best friend, eating a nourishing meal, telephoning a friend, taking a stretch break at your desk, enjoying a sunset.
  • Live assertively. Assertiveness allows people to express their honest feelings and opinions comfortably, to be open and direct, without anxiety or guilt, and to obtain their personal rights without denying the rights of others. Assertive persons respect themselves, speak calmly and clearly, maintain eye contact, project their voices, and smile sincerely when they mean it. By contrast, responding to others in passive or aggressive ways involves manipulation that respects neither yourself nor them. (By the way, in lists like this, and of course, this one, read, consider and take what seems best for you at this time in your life – and leave the rest. That’s being assertive!)
  •  Strengthen your social support . Include pleasant and stimulating interaction with others in your day, every day. Maintain nourishing relationships with family and friends. Promote communication and sharing of feelings in appropriate ways. Encourage positive self-talk, praise and support for each other. Getting involved in volunteer work is an excellent way to increase your social network as you lend a helping hand and a helping heart.
  • Shape a healthy balance. You’ll feel better and have more energy when you develop healthy living habits that come so naturally and feel so normal you hardly think about them. Normalize your life by being regularly active and keeping yourself well nourished without dieting. Take care of your health, but don’t obsess over it or struggle for perfection. Find a satisfying balance of wellness and wholeness that works for you at this time in your life and helps you live the way you want.
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6 Science-Based Tips For A Healthy & Happy Brain

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“This is an article from one of my favourite sites: http://www.mindbodygreen.com! They share some helpful and inspiring information about living a happier holistic life. I stubbled upon one article today that caught my eye. Having an addiction or disorder can send out brains into chemical imbalance. Thats why its important to change your diet to promote brain health. Here are some tips!” -Love, Robyn

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Our society is experiencing an epidemic of chronic brain problems. An estimated 40 million people in the United States experience some sort of anxiety-related disorder. As many as 30 million suffer from depression.

The use of antidepressants doubled from 1995 to 2005, and they’re now the most prescribed drugs on the market. There’s been a twentyfold increase in attention-deficit drug consumption over the past 30 years. Autism now affects 1 in 88 children. From anxiety, attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and autism to brain fog, dementia, depression and mood swings, one thing is clear: we have a rapidly growing mental health problem.

What is the mainstream medical system’s answer? As with most chronic conditions, its solution is to diagnose a disease or condition and match it with a corresponding pharmaceutical drug. In Functional Medicine, my goal is to clinically investigate the underlying, unlooked, and uninvestigated factors that are at play in chronic health issues such as these and to naturally address them.

Obviously conditions like these are complex, and there’s no easy answer. Below I’ve laid out some great pieces of the puzzle for optimal brain health. They’re a great starting point, and are not intended to be quick fixes.

The tips and tools below are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill advice that you’ve heard a million times. Most people know they should be eating more vegetables; that’s a given. I wanted to give you the best, fresh plan for promoting a healthy brain, and to push you out of your comfort zone and into optimal health:

1. Eggs

This incredible, edible superfood is one of the most unjustly and inaccurately persecuted foods, ever! The yolk of the egg gets a particularly bad rap, but the yolk contains the majority of the eggs nutrients. I see so many well-intentioned people throw out the yolk or buy egg whites because they’re fat-phobic.

From a health perspective, this is very misguided. The yolk is so rich in nutrients for your brain that a separate article could be devoted to the topic. The yolk is truly nature’s multivitamin. Organic, pastured eggs from chickens who roam outside in the sunlight offer us essential brain food like choline. Choline has a variety of functions for healthy brain function, including the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and cell-membrane signaling, which is needed for all hormone function. Symptoms of choline deficiency include fatigue, insomnia and memory problems. Pastured egg yolks are also rich in omega-3 fats which are essential for a healthy brain.

As with all meat and dairy, not all eggs are created equal. Pasture-raised eggs have been shown to contain three times more of the brain beneficial omega-3 fats than supermarket eggs!

2. Organ meats

A second real food multivitamin is organ meat. Powerhouse superfoods, like liver, have been consumed by abundantly healthy societies throughout history, but now are eaten sparingly in modern Western society. The liver is a storage organ for many important brain nutrients, like vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron. A great way to get these nutrients is through a liver pate. Fermented cod liver oil is also a great option, and comes in different forms like gels and capsules if you want to take it in a whole-food supplement form.

3. Bone broth

To have a healthy brain, you need to have a healthy gut! The two are inextricably linked through nerve pathways. It’s no coincidence that your gut is also called “The Second Brain:” 95% of your serotonin, your feel-good hormone, is made and stored in your gut. Conditions like leaky gut syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can have damaging effects on your entire body. The connection between your gut and your brain (gut-brain axis) has been linked to depression, anxiety and autism. Bone broth is one of the best foods you can consume for a healthy gut. This nutrient-rich liquid is filled with collagen, which acts like a healing ointment to a stressed-out inflamed gut.

4. Coconut oil

This amazing food can do wonders for your brain health. A study in the journal Neurobiology of Aging suggested that medium-chain triglycerides, like those found in coconut oil, improved cognitive function among older folks with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. The amazing thing in this research was that cognitive function was improved almost immediately following ingestion of the medium-chain triglycerides!

5. Grass-fed dairy

Your brain is made up of 60% fat and contains more cholesterol than any other organ in your body, yet we were raised to avoid these two essential brain nutrients. In addition to this, the cell membranes of our body, where your hormones communicate, are lined with the same components of saturated fat and cholesterol. That’s why it’s important to acquire these nutrients through your diet, and high-quality dairy is a good way to do that.

Dairy should always be grass fed, organic, and preferably raw. Fermented dairy like kefir is also a good option. The healthy fats of grass-fed dairy are where all the brain food is, so avoid low fat! Two fats that your brain wants and needs are saturated fats and arachidonic acid, both of which can be found in grass-fed dairy. Another nutrient your brain craves is vitamin K2, which is critical for the formation of the myelin sheath and the nerves in the brain. We get this power nutrient from the fat of grass-fed animals, the very food that’s disappeared from our modern low-fat diet.

6. Sunlight

It’s no secret that a lot of people are deficient in vitamin D. Our culture lathers up with toxic sunscreens and avoids the sun like the plague. But moderate sun exposure is healthy for most people. Vitamin D has many jobs, and one of them is its critical role in making your endorphins.

If you live in places that don’t always have strong sunlight, or if you work inside a lot, then get your vitamin D from the foods you eat. When we consume the dairies and fats listed above, from animals who live outside in the sunlight, they will have plenty ofvitamin D in their fats.

As I’ve said earlier, these are pieces of the puzzle to regain your health, not the entire picture. Hormonal imbalances, food intolerances, chronic infections, toxicity, and nutritional deficiencies are all factors that need to be investigated for the individual. Acomprehensive health program tailored for you and your unique needs will be necessary to create sustainable results. In Part II of this series on natural mental health, I will give you the top things you will want to get rid of for a healthy brain.

Addictions Effect on the Liver Channel

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A lot of us learn that because of our use, we have damaged our body in sometimes irreparable ways. At times we have clenched over in pain, as though somebody was stabbing a sharp knife into our right side. What we don’t realize at first is that this pain is our liver trying to tell us something. And if we don’t stop using and keep ignoring these symptoms, it can lead to further problems such as Liver disease

Everyone pretty much knows that drugs and alcohol aren’t the best for the liver… Yet, we didn’t care. We seemed not to care about anything but our next fix. But now that we are working towards recovery, we can take time to repair our body, inside and out. While in time the liver does heal itself, by eating certain foods and modifying our diet, we can help accelerate the process. Below is a section from an article originally posted by the Huffington Post that lists the top 10 foods that help promote proper liver function.

Garlic:
Garlic helps your liver activate enzymes that can flush out toxins. It also has a high amount of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansingsays holistic nutritionist Hermeet Suri.

Grapefruit:
Eating or drinking grapefruit juice can help your liver flush out carcinogens and toxins. This fruit is also high in both vitamin C and antioxidant properties.

Beets:
Beets are high in plant-flavonoids, which can improve the overall functions of your liver.

Leafy Greens:
Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce have the ability to neutralize metals, chemicals and pesticides that may be in our foods, and act as a protective mechanism for the liver, Suri says.

Green Tea:
Green tea is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, which have been known to improve the functions of our liver.

Avocados:
Adding more avocados to your diet can help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials, Suri says.

Crucferous Vegetables:
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts also increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) in our bodies that helps create enzyme production for digestion, Suri says.

Lemons:
We all know citrus fruits like lemons are full of vitamin C, but lemons also help our bodies cleanse out toxic materials and aid the digestion process.

Turmeric:
Used as a spice, tumeric has been known to help our bodies digest fats and stimulate the production of bile. It can also act as a natural form of detox for your liver.

Walnuts:
Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which help support our liver through its cleansing process.

According to traditional Chinese medicine theories (or TCM), diseases of the liver pose far more importance in the body than just digestive benefits. The liver channel that is used in acupuncture and acupressure reveals it self in the following line throughout the body:
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As you can see, it travels all the way up from the outer side of the big toe, to the inner shin, up the inner thigh, passes up the pelvis, surrounds points around the livers location, goes on the outside of the pectoral region and curves, making its way to a slight medial area on the neck. What this diagram does not show is its energy around the face which travels in the center of the checks, around the lips, then up to the direct middle of the eyes and to the crown of the head.

This meridian can reveal signs of liver deficiencies and manifest itself through pain throughout the line. Having pain in the inner ankle, difficulty abducting the legs or tenderness in the pectoral region are all physical signs. There are even mental signals that normally appear through ones outer expression and emotion that are associated with the liver meridian. With imbalances, people tend to feel hopeless, desperate and worthless because they cannot find meaning or purpose in everyday life. They may perceive a certain polluted path to be correct and blindly follow it. However, when health in the liver is restored, people are able to see clearer and pull themselves out of even the darkest places.

If you notice any of the symptoms in your life, you may want to consider the possibilities seeking alternative care. I highly recommend seeing a licensed acupuncturist  and/or an Asian Bodyworker who has knowledge in TCM theories. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and be involved in your treatment. Something I would make sure to ask is what you can do everyday (beside changing your diet) to help boost productivity in the liver channel like incorporating certain yoga poses to your practice.

If you have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment below or message me on our Facebook page at http://www.Facebook.com/HippyHealing <

How To Break Any Bad Habit

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“I just read and fell in love with this article from Mind Body Green and had to post it for you all! Enjoy!” -Love, Robyn

Learning to understand the self is a lot like stirring water in a glass. If we don’t stir, sentiments stay at the bottom of the glass and our water stays polluted.

Take a simple goal: Eat better.
For me, eating always starts with a craving. It’s rarely because I’m hungry. Usually I eat out of boredom. Or, on a deeper level, maybe loneliness.
First, the feeling. Then filling that feeling with food.
I imagine what I’m craving. Pizza. I see it. Feel it. I taste the crust and the cheese, and I know exactly where I’d go to get it. I see myself driving there and sitting in the booth eating it. (I am an extremely visual person. In this case, it’s not to my advantage.)
Then I become obsessed with this image. Inner conflict begins. Desire vs discipline, Want vs need. I start to reason with myself.  I work out hard. I deserve this. It’s not a big deal. What’s a slice? I need to get out of the house anyway.
Reasoning turns into deals. Okay, one slice but I’ll get a salad.
It’s on. The fantasy becomes a reality. I’m now actually sitting at the pizza place. And of course, I always break the deal I made with myself. Three slices and no salad. I eat until I’m stuffed. The Addict, The Liar, the Pseudo Self wins again.
On the way home, I feel guilty about myself and the pizza is never as good as I imagined it.
If I take this process and apply it to other areas of my life, is it the same? Dating? Relationships? If so, are the consequences and feelings the same?
Study patterns in your thoughts and behavior around fitness and nutrition. Chances are, they’re the same patterns you apply to other areas of your life. Maybe you maneuver in extremes: Win or lose. If so, do you apply that to work, love, etc.?  Do you use food or exercise to reward and punish yourself? If so, do you use work and relationships to reward or punish yourself?
Filtering your cloudy water means breaking patterns you believe are unhealthy. The more you are able to break unhealthy patterns, the cleaner your water will be.
Now, if you’re able to get stronger at rewiring your thoughts and behavior with food cravings and exercise habits, including all the fears you hit while working out, can you apply those new muscles to breaking patterns in other areas of your life?
I believe you can.
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Here’s how.
1. Know what’s triggering your behavior.
Usually it’s from a feeling.
For me, it was boredom and loneliness.
Pizza was a way of coping or numbing that feeling.
Being aware is the first step.
2. Force yourself to change that behavior.  
There will be an internal fight and it will be difficult. But this is where the road can fork. Give yourself other options. I could go on a walk. See a movie. Write. Any behavior that’s different, even if it’s only slightly more healthy. The goal is just to break it. You may not succeed in the beginning. It takes lots of practice. But eventually, if you keep at it, you’ll get stronger.
Next time I have a feeling that triggers me, I’ll walk around the block and maybe reward myself with fruit, juice, or even a protein bar instead of stuffing my face at a pizza joint.
Now, in relationships, something will trigger the same feeling. You may get into a fight and feel unheard, angry, lonely, etc. Think about your bad habit (your “pizza”) in relationships…  Is it to shut down or explode? Well, you can apply the process above to change that behavior, too .
3. Identify the feeling that triggers your behavior. 
What’s the feeling? Feeling hurt, unheard, lonely?
4. Focus on addressing that feeling. 
 
Maybe you talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Stay and talk it out. Journal. Call your brother. Exercise? Whatever. Just make sure it’s more healthy. Know that you can do this because you did it with the eating and it will work the same.  Remember the results you got from breaking the bad eating behavior and trust that process.
If you’re afraid to do something in the box or at the gym, but you overcome that fear and by doing so, see results, that revelation – that you can overcome a fear and see results can now be applied to confronting your boyfriend, boss, or parents.  You may believe one has nothing to do with the other.  On the surface, true.  But fear is fear.  And no matter what door you go in or how you tackle it, the more you conquer it, the more you will be able to conquer it in other areas of your life.
Once you prove to yourself that you can do something you were afraid of, that PROOF – belief – will spill into other areas of thinking.
Imagine fear as the black and white image in a coloring book. The more you color, the more the fear disappears. It doesn’t matter where you start or how you do it, all that matters is that you keep coloring. And the more you color, the more that page will come to life.
So it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about eating better or facing workouts you never thought you could do. Keep stirring to get that water cloudy so that you can then break patterns – filter that water clean in all areas of your life.

A Holistic Approach to Health in Early Recovery: Diet and Nutrition

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By Maura Henninger N.D from the Huffington Post

When it comes to the health of a recovering addict/alcoholic, the approach of natural medicine can positively alter the course of treatment — and definitively increase chances of getting and staying sober. In the first part of this series, I talked about withdrawal and insomnia, two of the most crucial problems that lead to relapse. I support my patients from several perspectives, encompassing mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. Detoxification, 12-step meetings, group and individual therapy, carefully prescribed medications, and family involvement are all integral to the success of a recovering addict in putting down his drink or drug of choice. But I’ve also found that the proper diet, along with targeted vitamin supplementation, can work miracles in the lives of early recovering addicts and alcoholics.

The link between sugar and alcoholism is not to be denied. The active alcoholic often typically consumes 50 percent or more of his or her total calories in the form of alcohol. Remaining calories are often in the form of junk foods: empty calories that actually deplete the body’s stores of essential nutrients.

Alcohol affects the body’s relationship with nutrition in several ways. First, it influences the cells of the midbrain that regulate sensations of appetite by suppressing desire for food while encouraging alcohol intake. [1] Second, it provides a lot of calories without essential nutrients so energy provided is short-lived and leaves the body without proper nutritional stores to draw on. And third, after the initial rush of energy provided by alcohol, there’s a severe drop in blood glucose levels that leads to fatigue, depression, and loss of energy and the subsequent consumption of more sugar and refined carbohydrates, as well as caffeine, to swing the body’s energy back up. Because of this my patients who are recovering addicts often think they need sugar and caffeine to feel good — to even feel normal.

I encourage a diet free of sugar and all its forms. This is a departure from average recovery wisdom that tells recovering addicts to eat all the candy and ice cream they want. But this kind of sugar consumption leads to prolonged cravings, fatigue, anxiety, hormonal imbalance, diabetes and simply a new form of dependence. To stabilize blood sugar, I have my patients focus on eating complex carbohydrates that take longer to digest and therefore provide longer and more stable sources of energy with fewer cravings. My prescription is frequent small meals to regulate blood sugar: three moderate meals a day with two sizeable snacks in between.

The diet I endorse is 45 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat and 25 percent protein. The best complex carbohydrates grains are: brown and wild rice, oats, amaranth, millet, spelt, beans, and lentils. People often don’t think of vegetables and fruits as sources of complex carbohydrates but they are some of the best we have available. All of this fiber helps cut alcohol cravings, as well.

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For my patients, I can’t stress the importance of protein enough. Proteins helps the body repair tissue and the alcoholic/addict needs this in abundance to help restore organs affected by chronic abuse including the liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, and brain. Protein is also necessary for blood sugar stabilization. Eggs, lean red meats, chicken, fish, and turkey are all to be eaten in abundance. Nuts are the protein snack of choice among my patients. Proper and adequate intake of fats is essential for absorption of vitamins and nutrients and for cellular repair. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, butter, and avocado are good sources. These oils are vital, too, to provide essential fatty acids. Deficiency of these leads to a host of problems, particularly for the recovering alcoholic, most notably depression. [2]

Because it overstimulates the nervous system causing increased anxiety and insomnia, caffeine consumption is to be minimized if not completely eliminated. I ask my recovering addicts and alcoholics to try herbal coffee substitutes like Pero or Cafix to get the taste fix. If elimination is impossible, I recommend no more than two cups of caffeinated beverages per day. Decaffeinated coffee, which still contains some caffeine, is preferable.

I urge people in recovery to eat nothing artificial to ease the load on the liver, which has to struggle to break down chemicals and preservatives. Foods should be in as close to their natural state as possible. I have found great success in cutting alcohol cravings by eliminating common food allergens, most notably wheat and dairy.

B vitamins are essential during detoxification from alcohol and drugs. Supplementing with vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential, ensuring proper brain function and decreasing fatigue, brain fog and poor memory. Wernickie-Korsakoff syndrome, or alcoholic encephalopathy, is a pronounced form of thiamin deficiency. [3] Research has shown that vitamin B3, or niacin, helps alcoholics detox from alcohol. [4] Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, helps support adrenal function and also helps rid the body of alcohol. For the recovering alcoholic suffering from insomnia and anxiety, vitamin B6, pyridoxine, is crucial for the production of serotonin and melatonin. Commonly, I give my recovering addicts/alcoholics a high quality B-complex supplement, along with vitamin A and vitamin C, which they are usually deficient in.

It’s my goal, as a doctor, to facilitate a physical recovery so that the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of recovery have a better chance of succeeding. Food is a crucial medicine in restoring this balance of health. The sooner a newly-sober person feels great, I’ve found, the sooner he or she will begin to accept a life free of crippling attachments to substances — the life they are truly are meant to live.

REFERENCES:

1. Xiao, et al. “Effect of ethanol on midbrain neurons: role of opioid receptors.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Jul; 31(7): 1106-13.

2. “Deficiency of Dietary Omega-3s May Explain Depressive Behaviors.” Science Daily. Jan 30, 2011. https://www. Sciencedaily.com.

3. Martin, et al. “The Role of Thiamin Deficiency in Alcoholic Brain Disease.: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. July 2004. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov.

4.Cleary JP. Etiology and biological treatment of alcohol addiction. J Neuro Ortho Med Surg 1985;6:75-7.

For more by Maura Henninger, N.D., click here.

For more on natural health, click here.

Why Do Recovering Addicts Crave Sugar?

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Maybe recovering addicts, like the rest of us, reach for sugary foods and drinks because they make us feel good. Think about it: it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and you’re at work and tired so you reach for a soda, candy bar, donut, or something else loaded with sugar.

Why do we crave sugar? What can we do to avoid it?

Blood sugar levels have an effect on our mood, energy level, and cravings for sugary foods. Sugar gives us energy and releases the chemical dopamine which is also called the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Recovering addicts increased dopamine with their drug of choice. But now that they no longer have the drug they are substituting sugar to get that high. If, for example, alcohol was your drug of choice, it is very high in sugar. Therefore, turning to sugar is an easy and cheap way for a recovering alcoholic to increase their blood sugar level and dopamine, and to chase that high. You will even see someone who is trying to cut down on their drinking substitute it with sugar, often starting in the morning with sugary drinks and using sugar in a similar way that they used alcohol.

The high that is produced from sugar is very short lived and usually followed by, what some people call, a “sugar crash”. The person physically feels worse, continues to crave sugar, and eat sugary foods. This is very similar to how someone craves their drug of choice.  Over time, just like with their drug of choice, the person will need more sugar to get the same “high”.

The most important part of recovery is to stay sober, but maintaining a healthy diet can also help you be more successful in your recovery as well as your work and life.  If you eat sugary foods or drink sugary drinks your blood sugar will rise and fall more rapidly than if you eat protein. Think about how you feel after you eat a couple of cookies compared to how you feel after you eat a turkey sandwich. If you eat a lot of sugar you may feel more agitated, depressed, or anxious, which can lead to relapse. When you feel good it is easier to overcome cravings, especially in early recovery.  Keeping your blood sugar level as consistent as possible by eating a healthy, balanced diet will minimize mood swings and can help you be successful in your recovery.

Diet in Recovery

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“According to Medline Plus, an addicts diet prior to recovery not only effects ones overall health but can lead to many diseases and disorders of the body and mind.”

The impact of different drugs on nutrition is described below.

OPIATES

Opiates (including codeine, oxycontin, heroin, and morphine) affect the gastrointestinal system. Constipation is a very common symptom of abuse. Symptoms that are common during withdrawal include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These symptoms may lead to a lack of enough nutrients and an imbalance of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, and chloride).

Eating balanced meals may make these symptoms less severe (however, eating can be difficult due to nausea). A high-fiber diet with plenty of complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, vegetables, peas, and beans) is recommended.

ALCOHOL

Alcoholism is one of the major causes of nutritional deficiency in the United States. The most common deficiencies are of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), thiamine, and folic acid. A lack of these nutrients causes anemia and nervous system (neurologic) problems. Korsakoff’s syndrome (“wet brain”) occurs when heavy alcohol use causes a lack of enough thiamine.

Alcohol intoxication also damages two major organs involved in metabolism and nutrition: the liver and the pancreas. The liver removes toxins from harmful substances. The pancreas regulates blood sugar and the absorption of fat. Damage to these two organs results in an imbalance of fluids, calories, protein, and electrolytes.

Other complications include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Permanent liver damage (or cirrhosis)
  • Seizures
  • Severe malnutrition
  • Shortened life expectancy

Laboratory tests for protein, iron, and electrolytes may be needed to determine if there is liver disease in addition to the alcohol problem. Women who drink heavily are at high risk of osteoporosisand need to take calcium supplements.

STIMULANTS

Stimulant use (such as crack, cocaine, and methamphetamine) reduces appetite, and leads to weight loss and poor nutrition. Abusers of these drugs may stay up for days at a time. They may be dehydrated and have electrolyte imbalances during these episodes. Returning to a normal diet can be hard if a person has lost a lot of weight.

Memory problems, which may be permanent, are a complication of long-term stimulant use.

MARIJUANA

Marijuana can increase appetite. Some long-term users may be overweight and need to cut back on fat, sugar, and total calories.

Nutrition and psychological aspects of substance abuse

When people feel better, they are less likely to start using alcohol and drugs again. Because balanced nutrition helps improve mood and health, it is important to encourage a healthy diet in people recovering from alcohol and other drug problems.

However, people who have just given up an important source of pleasure may not be ready to make other drastic lifestyle changes. It is more important that people avoid returning to substance abuse than that they stick to a strict diet.

“We can take back our health and our life by following some simple guidelines…”

  • Stick to regular mealtimes
  • Eat a low-fat diet
  • Get more protein, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements may be helpful during recovery (this may include B-complex, zinc, and vitamins A and C)

People with substance abuse are more likely to relapse when they have poor eating habits. This is why regular meals are so important. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol often forget what it’s like to be hungry and instead think of this feeling as a drug craving. They should be encouraged to consider that they may be hungry when cravings become strong.

During recovery from substance abuse, dehydration is common. It is important to get enough fluids during and in between meals. Appetite usually returns during recovery. People in recovery are often more likely to overeat, particularly if they were taking stimulants. Eat healthy meals and snacks and avoid high-calorie foods with low nutrition (such as sweets), if possible.

The following tips can help improve the odds of a lasting and healthy recovery:

  • Eat nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Get physical activity and enough rest.
  • Reduce caffeine and stop smoking, if possible.
  • Seek help from counselors or support groups on a regular basis.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements.