Food is Fuel - The Importance of a Healthy Diet in Recovery
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. What you put into your body everyday has an immediate impact on every aspect of your physical and mental health.
I lived on a steady diet of booze, cigarettes and fast food for so long that I suffered serious health issues as a result of my lifestyle. For me, early sobriety was about much more than just learning how to live without alcohol every day. I also needed to learn, or relearn, how to fuel my body with the right food that would help me rebuild and recharge my body. I had to replace the toxins I was dumping into my body with the natural medicine of healthy food.
Good food is a gift. Food is one of the great pleasures of life given to us by God. If you can learn how to appreciate food not only for how it tastes but also how it sustains you, you will be more likely to make wise choices every time you eat. Your body is a natural engine that requires a constant input of fuel in order to run properly over a long period of time (many, many years, I hope). So it’s imperative that you fill your body-engine with only the best fuel possible. Respect your body and your body will show you respect. It’s as simple as that.
This isn’t to say you can’t indulge in sweets and even junk food occasionally. We’re not talking about complete denial of food that is fun and even fattening. I personally love ice cream and sweets. My wife and I love to have pancakes every once and a while for breakfast. And we sometimes eat French fries and cheese burgers (turkey burgers, anyway. We avoid red meat).
I’ve spent a lot of times in AA meetings over the last 12 years of my sobriety. Quite often there is a table filled with cookies and donuts at meetings. And I usually indulge in whatever is out there. There is just something very comforting and enjoyable about sweets (and bad coffee) at an AA meeting. They just seem to go hand in hand. And I don’t feel guilty about it, either; nor should you, especially if you’re just starting your sober journey. Sweets can be very important if you’re brand new to sobriety. Your body has been living for so long on the sugar from alcohol that the cravings for sweets are going to be intense in the early days. So eat the damn donut and don’t feel guilty about it.
The point is; eating healthy doesn’t always mean we have to deny ourselves completely. We can still enjoy fun food, but in moderation. As addicts, we need to recognize what is and isn’t good for us and act accordingly and appropriately.
As you move forward in your recovery, try to keep a mental note of what kind of foods you’re putting into your body every time you eat. You can even keep a note pad, or food journal, with you and write it down to help you remember. Try to develop a conscious awareness of what kind of foods you eat and how often. Do you have a tendency to eat only mostly processed or packaged food? Do you eat at fast food restaurants every day? What are you drinking, sodas or water? Do you eat fresh fruit every day?
The more aware you become about the food you’re using to fuel your engine, the faster you’ll recognize how to make adjustments that benefit, not harm, your body.
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