Tag Archives: Nutrition

Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

Standard

“Having only drank for one year of my life, I hardly consider myself an alcoholic. But I know how important it is for me to see it as any other drug so I am welcomed to AA as NA/CA just the same. I wanted to understand holistic approaches to alcoholism just as I understand the addiction. Turns out their not really much different. This blog can help not only a drunky but a junky too.” -Love, Robyn

Image

Alcohol addiction is a multifaceted brain disorder which is one of the reasons it is so difficult to treat and why a holistic approach to alcoholism is the prescription needed for craving-free and long-term sobriety

The roots of alcoholism lie in an imbalance or depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain that is caused by the alcohol itself, nutritional deficiencies, low blood sugar, allergy, poor diet, hypothyroidism, toxins in the environment, childhood abuse,chronic stress or many of the other things that disrupt neurotransmitters.

However, these biochemical roots affect every aspect of an individual’s life. It alters personality, cognitive functioning and spiritual connections. It impacts the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual levels deeply.

We’ll call these other issues, secondary contributors to alcoholism. Although they are not the core root, if they are not addressed they have the power to sabotage recovery.

The physical, emotional and spiritual elements are deeply intertwined. The biochemical/physical impacts the spiritual and the psychological and the spiritual affects the biochemical and psychological and vice versa.

When an individual addresses the true biochemical roots of their addiction with a holistic approach to alcoholism, physical healing begins and biochemical repair is essential to success in long-term sobriety. Deep spiritual and emotional healing can’t be complete without it. However, if one only addresses the biochemical and neglects the spiritual and emotional then they are still at risk of relapse or relapse.

The damage that is done on the physical level has a great impact on the psychological and the spiritual. When your brain and body systems aren’t functioning properly, it has a profound impact on emotional and spiritual health which is often exhibited in a variety of negative psychological symptoms.

Incorporating a holistic approach to alcoholism into your recovery plan helps the individual to heal on all these levels and therefore increases the success rates of long-term sobriety quite drastically.

Unique Aspects of a Holistic Approach to Alcoholism

Alcoholism is unique from other diseases in that it often destroys marriages or relationships or alienates family and friends. Family members and friends must often distance themselves from the alcoholic in order to save their own sanity and in some cases protect themselves emotionally and/or physically. When this occurs, the alcoholic is left in a position without much support. For those who stick around, there is usually a great deal of damage done to the relationship and healing is required.

Another unique component to alcoholism, is that after one engages in the alcoholic lifestyle for an extended period of time, it then becomes a learned behavior to some degree. They learn to respond to stress, pain, sadness, anger etc. by taking a drink or a drug. It becomes a habitual response without thought. These types of behaviors must be unlearned and replaced with healthier behaviors. Habits and routines must be broken. A new lifestyle needs to be embraced.

Alcoholism recovery is also unique in that there is likely to be a great deal of shame, guilt and remorse for actions and behaviors that the alcoholic engaged in while intoxicated, which must be dealt with in a healthy manner to keep them from interfering in sobriety.

Depending on factors such as each individuals background and how long one has been living with alcoholism, there can be a variety of other secondary factors that need to be taken into consideration and addressed, such as relationship issues, childhood sexual or physical abuse, impact on marriage, parenting issues and interpersonal skills. Many people who’ve lived with alcoholism for a long time may be lacking in a variety of social skills that are necessary to get through life. These factors will not apply to everyone, but for those who it does, this is where traditional counseling is called for.

And yet another exclusive aspect of alcoholism is that sometimes the individual goes through a grieving period when they begin recovery. Giving up alcohol is like losing a very good friend or a loved one. Emotional support is a crucial for those who have this experience.

With all these different factors weighing in the alcoholism recovery equation, to address only one aspect will not lead to successful long-term sobriety. All issues must be addressed simultaneously or they become possible triggers for relapse and undermine recovery.

A holistic approach to alcoholism may include the following:

1. Biochemical repairs that addresses the physical as well as the psychological:

  • Identify neurotransmitter imbalances and metabolic disorders
  • Nutritional support during detox and later
  • Changes in diet and nutrition
  • Recognizing environmental factors
  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies
  • Individualized diet plans
  • Dietary and nutritional counseling
  • Exercise

2. Counseling, groups or seminars for social and emotional issues:

  • Childhood physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect
  • Dealing with loss and grief of alcoholism
  • Coping skills
  • Parenting skills
  • Lifestyle adjustment
  • Communication skills
  • Assertiveness training
  • What to do with loneliness, boredom, too much time on your hands
  • Repair relationships

3. Discovering spiritual connections:

  • Developing a relationship with yourself
  • Connecting more deeply with yourself
  • Healing relationships
  • Engaging in spiritually fulfilling activities
  • Forgiveness of self
  • Activities that make you feel whole, complete and connected
  • Deep and meaningful activities
  • Mindfulness based meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Communing with nature

Another very important component in the holistic approach to alcoholism is that treatment is individualized and personalized according to each persons needs and issues.

One person may have many secondary issues while another individual may have none or only one. Treatment approaches will vary to some degree in the biochemical aspect as well as the emotional and spiritual aspects.

Someone who has been drinking for 20 years may have a lot more complex biochemical and social issues than someone who become an alcoholic two years ago after their husband died.

An individual who lived with childhood sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect may have more challenges to face than someone who had a loving childhood. Their alcoholism recovery plan would likely include a lot more focus on the counseling aspect.

One person may need a great deal of counseling and training in areas such as communication and assertiveness while others may be quite competent in these areas. Some people may adjust easier to a new lifestyle while another may struggle a great deal. All these details need to be taken into account and adjusted for specifically for the individual.

Advertisements

How To Break Any Bad Habit

Standard

“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.
Image
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

Standard

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.

Image,

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.

Diet in Recovery

Standard

Image

“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.

Out of the Room Recovery Chat App

Standard

20130929-141516.jpg

Whether you’ve been sober a day or a millennium, the app Anonymous Sober Chat by Pitashi is just the app to keep you focused on your recovery! Here you can join an assortment of chat groups specified by topics separated by your addiction (sex versus drugs), your motivations (like the workout and exercise thread), age (like young people in recovery) and living situations (like sober and single). These threads give you an opportunity to find support no matter who you are or where you are! You can vent about your struggles or help someone who is relapsing get to their next meeting. Its a great community full of so much potential to grow the recovering population because the more addicts support each other not only inside but outside the rooms, the less likely there is a chance of feeling isolated and wanting to use.

I started a thread titled Holistic Recovery and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in healing–not only their mind but body and spirit– to join! You can receive live comfort and motivation that will keep you on track for a successful recovery!

“Bellow is the first article I posted on the thread that talks briefly about the physical effects of our addiction to our health and how new lifestyle choices can help aid in our recovery.”- Love, Robyn

All addicts in active use of alcohol and drugs are malnourished.

In order to help people recover, it is important to understand the impact of nutrition. It is astounding to consider that only fat contains more calories per gram than alcohol. As a result, while drinking, addicts experience a sense of fullness having eaten very little or nothing. These “empty calories” lead to poor eating habits and malnutrition. Drug abusers experience a similar affect. Alcohol and drugs actually keep the body from properly absorbing and breaking down nutrients and expelling toxins. This leads to a host of health problems. (see sidebar, “How Drugs & Alcohol Affect the Body”)

Restoring addicts to physical, as well as spiritual, health.

The essence of recovery is changing negative behaviors into positive ones. Good nutrition, relaxation, and exercise all play an important role in successful change. Learning to make healthy food choices is important to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Because they have neglected their diet, addicts experience gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, an inability to digest foods properly, along with a poor appetite. As a result, they have a special need for foods that are high in nutrients to rebuild damaged tissues, organs and regain appropriate functioning of the various systems including the nervous and gastrointestinal systems.

Nutrition actually impacts cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Every newly recovering addicts struggles with craving to use alcohol and drugs. Research has show that a diet with the right types of high protein and high carbohydrate-rich foods can make a big difference.

Food affects mood. Along with amino acids, deficiency of nutrients like folic acid and the other B-complex vitamins also have a serious and negative impact. Sugar and caffeine can contribute to mood swings, so intake of both should reduced during the early stages of recover.

Alcohol and drug use prevents the body from properly processing two important amino acids, tyrosine and tryptophan. They are responsible for the production of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin. These compounds are neurotransmitters that are essential for emotional stability, mental clarity, and a general state of well-being. Decreased levels of these neurotransmitters negatively affect mood and behavior.