How Nutrition and Exercise Help Fight Addiction - MissLJBeauty

How Nutrition and Exercise Help Fight Addiction

Addiction recovery is a continuing journey in which you learn new, healthy habits, ways of thinking, and behavior patterns. This process usually begins with rehabilitation to rid the body of the addictive substance, followed by counseling to identify and address the root cause of substance abuse. 

These tried-and-true recovery methods are highly effective for many seeking freedom from addiction. Combining these techniques with a focus on balanced nutrition and regular exercise supports individuals’ physical health and can help them sustain long-term recovery. 

Strengthening Body and Mind

Addictive substances like alcohol, opioids, and cocaine seriously affect a person’s mental and physical health. They can cause damage to internal organs, muscle deterioration, appetite issues, and harm to the nervous system. While good medical care and long-term sobriety can heal much of this damage, nutritious foods and regular exercise can speed up the process. 

Eating a balanced diet full of colorful fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats supports general health and provide the things your body needs to heal. Many richly colored plant-based foods have antioxidants that help heal cell damage. Oily fish, nuts, and starchy foods like potatoes support healthy brain function, and iron-rich meats and legumes support blood production. 

Similarly, regular exercise improves bone density, tones muscles, strengthens the heart, and releases dopamine and other feel-good hormones in the brain. According to Harvard Health, swimming and running can reduce substance cravings and support long-term recovery. Likewise, eating food triggers the release of dopamine, serotonin, and many other beneficial chemicals that make us feel happy and satisfied.

Forging Connections with Others 

Connection is one of the most vital factors in sustaining sobriety. Humans are social beings that need connection and community to thrive. Prolonged isolation—both physical and emotional—has a negative impact on our mental and emotional health. In these cases, substance abuse can provide relief from feeling intense loneliness, anxiety, or depression. 

Cooking, sports, and exercise offer healthy, beneficial alternatives to using that can help you build friendships and form meaningful connections. Humans have bonded over these activities for thousands of years, and they provide a natural, comfortable structure for social interaction. 

You may even be able to find activities like these specifically for individuals in addiction recovery, enabling you to support each other through your healing journey. 

Forging Connections with Yourself

Substance abuse disconnects the mind and body, turning your perceptions outward or dulling them altogether. That’s why therapy for those in recovery often centers on recognizing your thoughts, emotions, and physical responses before you react to them. Giving yourself a few moments to process and make healthier choices is crucial to developing healthier thought patterns and coping mechanisms. 

Physical activities like running and swimming, baking, or even enjoying a latte can help recenter your thoughts and regulate your responses to outside stressors. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, while learning how to cook improves confidence.

Learning to go for a walk or focus on making a cup of tea when you’re upset can go a long way toward sustaining your sobriety.


Stress Management and Relapse Prevention

Consuming healthy foods and getting enough exercise are habits essential to stewarding good health, whether or not you’re recovering from addiction. They’re also hobbies that can become a very fulfilling part of your life. Exercise tones your muscles and releases endorphins to regulate your mood and help you sleep. Additionally, preparing food fosters self-sufficiency, encourages creativity, and is an act of self-love. 

These activities reinforce the idea that you have value and deserve to be healthy and cared about. Fostering this attitude makes stress management easier, gives your daily life a focus, and ultimately helps prevent cravings and relapse. Combined with regular therapy and appropriate medical treatment, nutritious food and physical activity are excellent tools for breaking free of addiction and building a brighter future. 

Jenn Walker is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes for Maryville, a medication-assisted treatment center in New Jersey.

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