Your loved one doesn’t look or act like the person they used to be. Ever since their drinking spiraled out of control, they’ve gained weight and have made impulsive decisions like driving drunk and spending their money on alcohol instead of groceries or rent.
But your loved one’s drinking does much more damage to your loved one’s body and mind that you can’t see. One of the reasons alcohol addiction is destructive is because it convinces your loved one to ignore basic dietary and nutritional needs that help us live healthy lives.
In this article, we’ll review some of the ways alcohol can impact your loved one’s health and why nutrition is so necessary to an alcoholic’s recovery.
What Alcohol Does to Your Loved One’s Body and Mind
- Alcohol Tricks the Brain into Thinking That’s All It Needs. Feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine are naturally released in your brain when you eat something tasty or receive an award. But when your loved one drinks, the alcohol triggers an unnatural rush of dopamine that helps them relax and feel great. Now that they’re addicted, their brain believes that it needs alcohol instead of proper foods and nutrients in order to function normally.
- Alcohol Causes Nutritional Deficiencies. As already mentioned, alcohol addiction causes your loved one to prioritize drinking over eating healthy. But alcohol, itself, lacks the nutrients the body and brain need. For example, it’s common for alcoholics to have low zinc levels because alcohol isn’t fulfilling that nutrient need like meats and whole grains do. And even if your loved one is trying to eat healthy, alcohol prevents their body and brain from absorbing and using the nutrients they are taking in.
- Alcohol Triggers Extreme Blood Sugar Fluctuations. Our bodies require healthy nutrients in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, which are a major part of our decision making. When our blood sugar levels are low, we’re prone to make impulsive decisions and find ourselves in fight or flight mode. When your loved one’s diet is primarily alcohol, they struggle with extreme blood sugar levels that cause cravings and destructive behaviors.
- Alcohol Damages Gut Bacteria. There’s a reason that the saying “trust your gut” exists. The gut plays a major role in our health, as gut bacteria help our brains operate effectively. But for your loved one, their gut doesn’t work as it should. Alcohol alters the makeup of gut bacteria, which can lead to additional health problems like liver disease and inflammation in the brain.
Why Nutrition is Important for Your Loved One’s Recovery
Despite the damage alcohol addiction can cause, it’s possible for your loved one’s body and mind to bounce back. Of course, the best solution is alcohol addiction treatment. But part of that treatment needs to include proper nutrition.
Nutrients and healthy foods are the building blocks our bodies and brains need to stay energized, concentrate and make informed decisions. And when a balanced diet – proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables – is leveraged during addiction treatment, your loved one’s body and brain can actually heal the damage caused by alcohol.
For example, when your loved returns to a healthy diet during treatment, their blood sugar levels will balance out. This can remove the impulse for destructive behaviors and will help your loved one think more clearly and concentrate during individual and group therapy sessions. Your loved one’s gut bacteria will also improve, which can help their liver and lead to renewed amino acid production needed for natural dopamine and serotonin creation. When your loved one is able to feel pleasure naturally again, they won’t be tempted to drink.
How to Aid Your Loved One’s Nutrition
If your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, your first priority needs to be getting them into an addiction treatment center like Fountain Hills Recovery. Our expert team can get your loved one on a personalized treatment plan that prioritizes their specific health needs and get them back on a healthy diet again.
But there are also things you can do before your loved one enters treatment, while they’re away and once they return from treatment:
- Encourage healthy eating by avoiding fast food restaurants when with your loved one. Instead of ordering burgers and fries in a drive thru, visit a vegan shop for lunch or try a smoothie shop that uses natural ingredients.
- Go grocery shopping with your loved one. Help your loved one pick up fresh and local foods and avoid processed and high-sugar products.
- Research pro-recovery recipes and attend cooking classes. If your loved one is in treatment, these activities can help you prepare for healthy meals when your loved one returns home. These are also beneficial activities to do with your loved one after treatment, so they can get into the habit of cooking healthy foods.
Get Your Loved One on the Path Toward Recovery at Fountain Hills Recovery
As Arizona’s top luxury addiction treatment center, we take your loved one’s treatment and recovery just as personally as we would if it was our family member or friend. We offer a highly personalized and holistic approach to alcohol addiction treatment, focusing on your loved one’s specific needs and challenges. And this includes proper nutrition to aid your loved one’s recovery in a natural and effective way.