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Chronic substance abuse often affects a person’s relationship with food. Malnutrition, undereating, and overeating are common side effects of various substances. Likewise, during treatment and early recovery, many people have unhealthy eating habits. According to Nutrition Reviews, “Chronic substance use affects a person’s nutritional status and body composition through decreased intake, nutrient absorption, and dysregulation of hormones that alter the mechanisms of satiety and food intake.” West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with nutritional coaching and helps them create healthy eating habits during treatment

Navigating Nutrition in Recovery

Everyone has different nutritional needs based on age, gender, genetics, overall health, activity level, and other factors. Recovering from substance abuse requires a lot of focus and energy. Without proper nutrition, some people may struggle to stay motivated and engaged in their recovery. According to MedlinePlus, “Recovery from substance use also affects the body in different ways, including metabolism . . . organ function, and mental well-being.”

Every substance uniquely affects the body and can potentially cause severe side effects. Below are a few ways various substances impact nutritional health: 

  • Opioids cause significant gastrointestinal issues, including chronic diarrhea and vomiting, which affect the body’s balance of nutrients and electrolytes 
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD) frequently causes vitamin B deficiencies 
  • Stimulants cause severe weight loss and nutritional deficiencies by reducing appetite 
  • Marijuana increases appetite and may cause obesity or unhealthy eating patterns 

The clinical team at West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with information on their specific diagnosis and how healthier eating habits may impact their condition. Navigating nutrition in recovery is more manageable when clients and their loved ones have greater context about how chronic substance abuse may have affected their diet, appetite, and overall health. 

Impact of Unhealthy Eating Habits on Mental Health

Harmful or disordered eating habits affect a person’s physical and mental health by doing the following: 

  • Decreasing energy 
  • Reducing emotional stability and contributing to mood swings 
  • Increasing symptoms related to depression or anxiety 
  • Reducing the effectiveness of prescription medications and other forms of treatment
  • Increasing the risk of physical health issues during recovery, including unhealthy weight loss or gain

Individuals recovering from substance abuse face even greater health challenges. According to the previously mentioned article by MedlinePlus, “A person with substance use is more likely to relapse when they have poor eating habits.” Developing a healthier relationship with food and eating during treatment reduces the risk of relapse. West Coast Recovery Centers offers clients nutritional coaching and nourishing meals. The care team helps clients and their loved ones prepare to maintain healthy eating habits after treatment by educating them on the importance of nutrition.  

Common Unhealthy Eating Habits

Everyone has moments where they choose to eat something they know they shouldn’t. Some of the most common unhealthy eating habits include: 

  • Regularly eating ultra-processed foods
  • Under eating to the point of malnutrition
  • Overeating to the point of significant weight gain

Mindful eating is an excellent tool for avoiding unhealthy eating habits. 

What Is Mindful Eating?

People with unhealthy eating habits may have difficulty recognizing various signals from their body. For example, someone who chronically undereats may not recognize hunger cues. Mindful eating is used alongside diet and exercise or as an independent approach to nutritional eating. According to Diabetes Spectrum, “Mindful eating (i.e., paying attention to our food, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgment) is an approach to food that focuses on individuals’ sensual awareness of the food and their experience of the food.” Staying present in the moment and savoring the food is the goal of mindful eating. The increased self-awareness helps people more easily identify signals of hunger and fullness, reducing instances of over or under-eating. 

Achieving Nutritional Wellness During Treatment

People achieve nutritional wellness during treatment by doing the following: 

  • Staying properly hydrated 
  • Eating regular meals 
  • Avoiding ultra-processed foods 
  • Reducing sugar intake 

Some people may also benefit from taking vitamins or supplements to address deficiencies caused by chronic substance abuse and unhealthy eating habits. Individuals should consult a medical professional before taking any supplements or vitamins. The care team at West Coast Recovery Centers provides nutritional education to ensure clients make informed decisions when changing their eating habits.

Replacing Unhealthy Eating Habits With Healthier Alternatives

People in recovery must make many changes to their lifestyle and how they care for their bodies to reduce the risk of relapse. Finding ways to improve nutritional health helps clients make other positive lifestyle changes. Creating new habits and routines enhances a client’s relationship with food and eating. 

Some of the best ways to replace unhealthy eating habits include: 

  • Seeking guidance from a nutritionist or dietician 
  • Cooking meals instead of buying prepared foods 
  • Meal planning to ensure a balanced diet
  • Listening to body hunger or fullness cues

Avoiding unhealthy eating habits improves overall health and reduces symptoms. People in recovery often feel more emotionally stable and confident in their ability to maintain sobriety when they take care of their bodies.

A person’s eating habits impact mood and general wellness. Individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder often have unhealthy eating habits related to their substance abuse. For example, some substances cause decreased appetite, reduced nutritional intake, and potential deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. Treatment programs ensure clients receive nourishing meals and nutritional coaching to help them establish new, healthier eating habits. West Coast Recovery Centers ensures every client has access to nutritious meals during treatment. The care team also teaches clients to identify healthy and unhealthy foods and provides essential resources for developing nutritional meals. To learn more about the programs and services we offer, contact our office today by calling (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
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