Alina Lodge Blog

Nutrition

March is National Nutrition Month.

Nutrition in Recovery: The goal is to find a balance in intake between Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat to meet macronutrient needs, balance brain chemistry, and maintain a stable blood glucose level...

Ellen Sagan: Nutrition Specialist

It's National Nutrition Month and Alina Lodge wants to focus on the importance of nutrition in recovery. Often due to the use of drugs or alcohol, the health and well-being of a client is compromised. When they enter recovery, the body tries to replenish itself and students often deal with a return of hunger, taste sensations, and a drive to find pleasure through some source other than their substance that they abused. The goal is to find a balance between Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat to meet macronutrient needs, balance brain chemistry, and maintain a stable blood glucose level.

Addiction usually leads to the desire to have quick results and extreme behavior to achieve the results. Extreme dieting and/or binge eating becomes common place. Understanding the importance of a balanced intake is key to improving health and maintaining recovery. A diet incorporating all 3 key macronutrients is important for preventing cravings/binging and maintaining brain chemistry balance.

Carbohydrates are often treated as a nutrient that needs to be avoided. Current diets such as the Keto diet emphasize limiting the intake of carbohydrate in order to achieve ketosis and weight loss. The difficulty with this in recovery is that if it is too extreme, it can lead to a deficit in serotonin (a chemical in the brain which helps control mood, depression, sleep, and anxiety) which can increase the risk of relapse. It also can affect blood glucose levels which can increase cravings and cause hunger. The brain needs a minimum of 150gm of Carbohydrate per day to function properly. Carbohydrate can be found in fruit, dairy, and grains.

       "By taking in adequate protein, cravings can be minimized which helps prevent the need to use drugs, alcohol, or sugar to meet those needs."

Instead of avoiding Carbohydrates totally, the focus should be on choosing complex, less refined carbohydrates for best results. Choices such as brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, and whole grain pastas would be low in sugar, high in fiber, and less refined. Also incorporating moderate amounts of fruit and dairy into the diet can increase carbohydrate intake and provide additional vitamin and minerals which can assist in nutritional balance. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for our bodies and brains and therefore are needed to maintain our energy and balance the serotonin levels in our brain.

Protein is used for many functions in the body such as muscle building, immunity, and nutrient transport. It is not a good energy source and usually takes up to 2 hours to be metabolized by the body and used for energy. It is the last choice for our bodies to use protein as an energy source. It would prefer to be used to manage and replenish all of the above functions listed. Fifteen percent of calories consumed should be from protein for best nutritional use. Protein does help to elevate dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain which controls pleasure. By taking in adequate protein, cravings can be minimized which helps prevent the need to use drugs, alcohol, or sugar to meet those needs. The goal is to make sure protein choices are lean such as chicken, fish, lean red meat, or pork.

Fat is the macronutrient that is used after carbohydrate and glycogen stores for energy. It is our second most efficient energy source. The body breaks down fat for energy after all glycogen and glucose sources are used up. Even if the client’s goal is weight loss it is still important to get some fat in the diet to provide our fat-soluble vitamins such as Vit A, E, D and K. It is also important to provide satisfaction and create fullness. Heart healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, flaxseed oil, fish oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado are your best choices for adding some fats to meals. Fat intake should be limited to 30% of the calorie intake with less than 10% of saturated fat being eaten.

By trying to get 55% calories from complex carbohydrate, 15% from lean protein, and 30% from fat, nutrient needs can be met, and brain chemistry kept in balance to allow for best recovery.

Ellen Sagan, B.S., RD
Nutritionist
Alina Lodge
800-575-6343

We treat all types of chemical dependency such as alcoholism and drug addictions including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, as well as prescription drug addiction. If you or a loved one struggles to stay sober, contact us today.