Nutrition for Eating Disorders, Alcohol, and Substance Abuse

Our experience has shown us that at the time they enter the program, many individuals are out of control with food. Decision-making in regard to obtaining food, portion control, calories, exercise, weight, and body image is often distorted. Even though the relationship with food is dysfunctional, compulsive behavior provides the individual with predictability and comfort at a time when their lives may be feeling out of control. In essence, eating patterns become a survival mechanism, a way to cope. Many individuals are locked into a fearful cycle with food. For these reasons, we work with individuals to gain their trust which will enable them to begin turning their food and weight control over to the care of the program.

We understand that this may be frightening, but we commit to each individual that we will not allow her or his weight to swing to either extreme. We encourage open discussion of feelings about these matters with the staff and peers.

The staff’s responsibility is not to police food intake or to force individuals to do something that they do not wish to do. Instead, we ask individuals to be willing to follow and trust our guidelines and to share with us when they are having difficulty.

The inability to control alcohol or substance abuse intake is an addictive illness that affects about 5 percent of heavy alcohol and substance abuse individuals, as well as their families and friends. The physical effects of this type of compulsive drinking and substance abuse include severe nutritional deficiencies which are typically aggravated by the alcohol and substance abuser increasing disregard for his/her dietary needs.

Excessive alcohol intake in a person’s diet leads to an increased risk of cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. About 20 percent of all heavy drinkers contract cirrhosis of the liver, of whom about 20 percent die of liver cancer. In addition, alcoholism significantly increases the risk of cancer of the throat, esophagus, and stomach, and may contribute to cancer of the breast and colon.

A healthy diet helps to retard the development of diseases for an eating disorder, alcohol, and substance abuse individuals and strengthen the body’s defenses against further serious diseases.

Excessive alcohol consumption overloads the liver adversely affecting its ability to store fat-soluble vitamins (eg. vitamins A, D, E) and metabolize protein. In addition, alcohol-abusing individuals often have low levels of the following essential nutrients: calcium, folate, magnesium, thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), and zinc. The best diet for alcoholics should address these dietary deficiencies thus helping to repair the damage done as well as strengthening the body for the future.

The active alcohol and substance user often typically consumes 50 percent or more of his or her total calories in the form of alcohol. The remaining calories are often in the form of junk foods: empty calories that deplete the body’s stores of essential nutrients.

When it comes to the health of a recovering eating disorder, addict/alcoholic, the approach of natural foods can positively alter the course of treatment — and definitively increase chances of getting recovery and staying sober.

WD Recovery and Wellness believes proper diet, along with targeted vitamin supplementation through food, can work miracles in the lives of early recovery. Individuals 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. Proper and adequate intake of fats is essential for the absorption of vitamins and nutrients and cellular repair.

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

B vitamins are essential for eating disorders, and alcohol and drug recovery. Foods that are natural rather than Supplementing with vitamin B1 (thiamine) are 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. Research has shown that vitamin B3, or niacin, helps alcoholics detox from alcohol. 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 our goal, as a wellness and recovery center 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 and abstinent person feels great, I’ve found, the sooner he or she will begin to accept a life free of crippling attachments to substances, binging, purging, and restricting behaviors — the life they are truly meant to live.

This is why we have teamed up with De’Lite Healthy Eating. WD Recovery fell in love with their philosophy on food and nutrition as the “Marriage of convenient and health”. “The imbalance of calories and chemically made products contribute to negative impacts on the body. D’Lites’ meals include the use of high quality, nutritious products, which are cooked with healthy methods”.