What Should Teens in Addiction Recovery Eat?
Did you know that the catchphrase “garbage in, garbage out” is over sixty years old? Its first attributed use was in a newspaper article in 1957 discussing the computer work of U.S. Army mathematicians. Nowadays, it is used in computer and IT circles to illustrate how bad data or inputs inevitably lead to subpar results.
You can also think of “garbage in, garbage out” in the context of drugs and their impact on the human body. When those struggling with addiction use alcohol or drugs, the poisons in these substances take a toll on their physical well-being (once the high vanishes). Therefore, any effort made to recover from addiction or substance abuse must also include substituting healthy “inputs” for the body in the form of nutritious foods and beverages.
Recovering Addicts Crave Junk Food
Left to their own devices, teenagers who are trying to wean themselves off of drugs or alcohol tend to eat like… well, teenagers. Often, they are drawn to junk foods, processed foods, sugary sweets and drinks, and high-starch-and-salt foods (like pizza).
It is a logical shift for teens who are trying to fight the temptation of drugs or booze to turn to other “pleasurable” foods as a coping mechanism of sorts. After all, the pleasure centers of the recovering teen’s brain have been conditioned to receiving consistent stimulation from alcohol or drugs, and it is difficult for teens to resist the urge to feed that need. So they try to satisfy their “brain cravings” by gorging on pleasing foods.
Unsurprisingly, these “empty calorie” foods are counterproductive to the body during detox and recovery. Kicking an addiction to alcohol or drugs means not only keeping the harmful substances out of the body, but also bolstering it with nutritious foods and a well-balanced diet. Here is a breakdown of what a beneficial “recovery diet” looks like:
- Fruits and vegetables. Consuming five to nine servings of produce daily can provide the body with much-needed fiber; plus, the sugars in fruit or fruit juice can mitigate the allure of sweets.
- Protein. Not only does protein help regulate blood sugar, but it also aids the body in repairing internal organs at the cellular level.
- Whole grains. They are known for their fiber content, but they also contain complex carbohydrates that can boost overall energy levels.
- Healthy fats. Unlike saturated fats found in junk food, healthy fats (like those found in fish, nuts, coconut oil, and avocado) facilitate nutrient absorption in the body and also help combat depression.
- Superfoods. As unappetizing as it may sound, foods like seaweed and algae actually work to rid the body of toxins that build up due to drug and alcohol use.
- Water. Hydration is of the utmost importance during detox and recovery, so it is essential to consume at least 64 ounces of water per day.
- Multivitamins. These will provide all the vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly as it “heals.”
If you are a recovering teen, it might be prudent to seek the advice of a physician, nutritionist, or drug treatment counselor for more assistance with your diet and food choices. After all, the more healthy and robust your physical self is during recovery, the better you will feel mentally and emotionally – and the easier it will be to quell the urge to seek pleasure from drugs or alcohol.
Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.