Fighting Addiction with Food & Fitness

Image by Chelsey Luger.

Image by Chelsey Luger.


This blog post is a guest contribution by Constance Ray. Find more of her work at . If you have an idea for the WELL FOR CULTURE blog, please send it to

Health, Wellness and the Road to Recovery

The United States is in the midst of an epidemic. Drug and alcohol abuse takes the lives of thousands of people every day and is especially prevalent among Native peoples and other communities who often lack access or do not respond well to conventional behavioral health services. If you are in recovery for substance abuse dependency, keep reading on how physical fitness along with diet, exercise and a focus on your mental health can help.

Recovery and wellness go hand-in-hand

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services, every aspect of your life affects your physical and mental health. This is especially true when you’re recovering from a traumatic or stressful event, including alcohol and drug addiction. Your successful rehabilitation is dependent upon your everyday actions. The food you eat, the hours you keep and the activities you do all play a part in helping you continue sustain a sober way of life.

 No matter how much damage you’ve done to your body, there are a number of healthy habits that can help you maintain your sobriety and even add a few years to your life. The New York Times recently underscored the importance of eating well, getting regular physical activity, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and eliminating heavy alcohol consumption.

 Physical activities such as walking and weight training can help keep your body strong, which will give you the power to overcome cravings. But it’s not just enough to workout for the sake of working out. If you want to enjoy a successful fitness routine, it has to be sustainable. In other words, your workout should be something you enjoy and look forward to. You can find an enjoyable workout by trying many different activities. Walking is perhaps the easiest while group dance classes combine cardiovascular exercise with social opportunities. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s consistent in order to get the best results for both your physical and mental health and your recovery efforts.

 Your nutritional intake is directly related to how you feel; eating the wrong kinds of foods can make your body feel weak, which can lead to giving into cravings. Commit to eating a healthy breakfast, which consists of whole grains, dairy, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats each morning. Pack a lunch every day so you’ll avoid the temptation to eat greasy fast food, which can make you feel sluggish and tired. Watching what you eat can also help you maintain – or achieved – a healthy weight.

Obviously, if you’re in alcohol addiction recovery, you’ll need to be able to manage your desires to drink. Overcoming these yearnings may be easier when you realize the short and long-term benefits of leaving liquor behind. When you stop drinking, you lower your risk of developing certain types of cancer, specifically those that affect the liver. You’ll also significantly lower your chances of experiencing liver cirrhosis, heart disease, sexual dysfunction and mouth cancer. Once you’ve learned to overcome your dependency on drugs and alcohol, you will not only feel better, but your hair and skin will look better, which may give you a self-esteem boost.


A Healthy Routine

You already know that diet and exercise play a part in your recovery, but so does your daily routine. A healthy schedule consists of getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Follow your slumber with 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity and a healthy breakfast. Social activity is also important as having a strong network of friends and family who will bolster your recovery efforts. Don’t forget to make time for yourself such as spending up to 15 minutes each day to meditate, writing in a journal, or simply winding down after a long day at work. These quiet times will go a long way toward helping you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

 Simply wanting to maintain your sobriety is not enough. Instead, you must work toward that goal every hour of every day. Part of your recovery efforts should center on maintaining a healthy routine, so that you’ll be less tempted to relapse and more likely to be successful.