Many people are unaware of how diet impacts their lifestyle, dependencies, pain tolerance and mental health. Making healthy food choices is one of the first steps in altering the substance abuse cycle and aiding in pain management. A dietitian can analyze a patient’s current diet and make realistic recommendations including keeping track of the nutrients you put in your body, following an eating schedule and staying away from foods known to cause inflammation to help them get on the right path to recovery from the inside out.
When treating patients with a history of substance abuse and chronic pain, we recommend consulting with a professional to examine nutrient deficiencies and suggest a plan to replace them. Each person’s needs are different depending on their eating habits, and those facing health issues often have significant room for improvement.
How diet, substance abuse and chronic pain connect
Substance abuse often leads to nutrient deficiencies as a result of ingesting empty calories or by forgetting to eat altogether. Deficiencies in your diet can induce anxiety and low energy levels, which can ultimately trigger a relapse. These missing nutrients can also deprive the body of the supplies it needs to heal and combat pain.
Many of the patients we see have turned to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to alleviate their chronic pain. However, as a result of a decrease in appetite or a switch to quick, unhealthy foods, patients do not digest enough nutrients, and in turn actually experience more pain. It’s a vicious cycle, but by controlling the substances you put in your body, patients see a difference in mood, stress levels, and chronic symptoms.
What healthy foods can do for a patient
When discussing specific dietary options, it is best to avoid inflammatory foods such as sweets and processed foods. Anti-inflammatory foods, including berries, fish and avocados will reduce chronic pain and increase your energy levels. Not only will the patient see a difference in their recovery process but changing their diet will also encourage a healthy lifestyle for the future.
For more information on addiction, chronic pain and dietary recommendations, contact our J. Flowers Health Institute team.