People recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol commonly experience cravings. In most cases, cravings will dissipate on their own within ten to fifteen minutes. Even so, they can be very powerful and often lead to relapse. Psychological and physical in nature, cravings can be very intense, especially in the early stage of recovery.
Although everyone will experience recovery in a slightly different way, experts agree that staying hydrated and following a proper nutritional diet are essential components to controlling cravings, preventing relapse, and restoring the body’s physical and mental health. It is important to choose foods that support brain chemistry, promote steady blood sugar throughout the day, and are easy to digest.
Foods That Help Curb Cravings From Drugs or Alcohol
A diversified and well-balanced diet of whole foods made up of proteins, dairy, grains, fruits, and vegetables is the optimum diet. Whole foods are those that have not been modified from their original form or artificially processed. While all whole foods are excellent choices, specific foods are especially good for addiction recovery and curbing cravings.
Foods Rich in the Amino Acid Tyrosine
An essential amino acid, tyrosine, helps the brain produce the neurotransmitter dopamine that causes good feelings. It elevates mood, increases motivation and energy, lessens feelings of apathy, and reduces cravings. Lean beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, and soy products are foods rich in tyrosine.
Additional high tyrosine foods include:
- Nuts (Brazil, peanuts, almonds)
- Dairy products
- Sunflower, pumpkin, chia, and sesame seeds
- Whole grains
Foods Rich in the Amino Acid Tryptophan
Another essential amino acid, tryptophan, helps the brain release the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin promotes a happy, positive mood and helps reduce cravings during recovery. It is found in pork, turkey, lamb, tuna fish, beans, lentils, and oat bran.
Other foods rich in tryptophan include:
- Kiwi fruit
Foods Rich in the Amino Acid L-glutamine
The essential amino acid L-glutamine provides the body with many antioxidant and immune system benefits. It helps to reduce sugar cravings, maintain a steady blood glucose level, reduce anxiety, and curb cravings for alcohol or drugs. Research has shown that consuming sugar results in increased levels of depression, anxiety, and inflammation, which can result in a possible relapse. Protein-rich fare such as chicken, beef, fish, eggs, and dairy products are excellent sources of L-glutamine. Leafy, dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and parsley also contain high levels of this amino acid.
Several other foods rich in L-glutamine include:
- Brussel sprouts
Foods to Boost Your GABA Levels
GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), an amino acid, is a brain neurotransmitter that decreases central nervous system activity and blocks specific brain signals. It promotes feelings of relaxation and calm. Its calming effects on the brain support balanced blood pressure, reduce physical and mental stress, decrease muscle tension, ease anxiety, and help curb cravings.
Insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness accompanied by strong cravings are common during early recovery. Including GABA-rich foods in your diet can help alleviate these symptoms as GABA levels increase. Fish, shellfish, cherry tomatoes, Kefir, sprouted whole grains, and potatoes are foods rich in GABA.
Other GABA rich foods include:
- Noni fruit
Foods Loaded with Antioxidants
Foods loaded with antioxidants help your body rebuild its immune system after the devastation caused by the drugs or alcohol. They defend your body from harmful molecules called free radicals that can damage or kill healthy cells. Found in nutrient-dense foods, antioxidants help keep your body healthy and reduce the risk of drug or alcohol cravings. Blueberries, purple grapes, carrots, spinach, artichokes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and squash are a few of the many foods rich in antioxidants.
Several other antioxidant-rich foods include:
Using a lot of spices in your cooking is another way to increase your antioxidant intake. Clove, allspice, peppermint, cinnamon, thyme, and oregano are all spices packed with antioxidants.
If You Need Help
If you or a loved one struggles with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are not alone. Help is available, and now is the time to take the first step toward sobriety. Call and speak to a caring professional at Canyon Vista Recovery Center located in Mesa, Arizona. We will answer your questions and help you get the help you need. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center, a combination of medical, clinical, psychiatric, and holistic approaches will be used to treat all aspects of your disease. Your body, mind, and spirit will heal, and you will learn the valuable tools you need to live a sober life.