The Brain, Food and Addiction Recovery

Recovery is a team effort in that all the areas of our daily lives must cooperate with each other for the common goal of recovering from an addiction. One important area that often gets forgotten is diet. Certain foods can actually assist us in recovery. Here are 4 delicious and nutritious recipes to support your new, healthier lifestyle.

Four Recipes for Recovery

The brain interacts with different foods in several significant ways. It is always important to assess one’s diet in terms of health, especially when a person is recovering from an addiction. Let us discuss some of the key aspects of food and brain connection and how this matters during recovery.

First, scientists have continuously proven that food affects our moods. The hypothalamus is the area of the brain where our appetites are controlled — here the brain registers whether we are hungry or full. In addition, neurotransmitters carry messages between neurons about emotions, mood and physical hunger. Two key neurotransmitters that affect our moods are serotonin and dopamine. It is no secret that low levels of these neurotransmitters lead to feelings of anger, depression and sadness, while higher levels lead to feelings of well-being and happiness. Foods that are high in anti-oxidants such as leafy greens and berries help increase the production of serotonin. In addition, foods that contain healthy fat and amino acids act in the same fashion by increasing serotonin.

Besides serotonin and dopamine, there are also endorphins that are a “feel-good” chemical in the brain. Certain foods help to trigger the release of endorphins and are therefore helpful during the journey of recovery. Foods that can trigger endorphin release are chocolate and creamy, sweet foods.

Lastly, there are foods that both increase and decrease mental alertness. For example, carbohydrates have been shown to decrease mental alertness and are a good food to eat to feel calm. On the other hand, high protein foods like salmon and poultry increase mental alertness by spurring production of neurotransmitters.

Now that we know some of the key ways that food interacts with the brain. Let us take a look at some delicious and nutritious recipes that can ease cravings and help you on your recovery journey.

The Perfect Energy Boosting Snacks for Recovery

The Perfect Energy Boosting Snacks for RecoveryThe Perfect Energy Boosting Snacks for Recovery

Choco-Orange Energy Balls

This is a quick and easy recipe with no baking required. These delicious bites will satisfy your sweet tooth without being high in sugar. Get the recipe here.

What Makes This Recipe Great for Recovery

Researchers agree: snacks are an important part of any diet. Both over eating and under eating are not beneficial for the body. Often people who have struggled with addiction may have concerns with either over or under eating. To solve this problem, health professionals suggest having nutritious snacks throughout the day. It is also important to have filling snacks so as to not overindulge.

The choco-orange energy balls have 3g of protein in each one. Consuming protein is important during recovery as it gives you energy when your body is feeling drained from the process of recovery. In addition, this treat is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which have been proven to help decrease mood swings and assist in the production of serotonin. These energy balls have the added bonus of being chocolaty without being high in sugar. Chocolate has been shown to trigger the production of dopamine which helps you to feel happy. Not only will this snack help keep you full and satisfied but it will give you energy and help you maintain positive emotions.

Beetroot Humus

This snack is a classic favourite with a twist. This delectable snack will satiate savoury cravings while boosting your mood. Get the recipe here.

What Makes This Recipe Great for Recovery

Humus is filling and high in protein. For those who often crave snacks that are high in trans-fats (for example, potato chips), this is an excellent replacement. The creamy beetroot humus contains healthy fats for the body. In addition, beetroot is also high in antioxidants which stave off free radicals. Antioxidants help the production of serotonin in the brain which is especially helpful for those in recovery. What makes this snack especially great is that you can pair it with your favourite raw vegetable or pita bread to create a super healthy carb, protein and fat combination for a perfect nutrient-balanced snack.

Main Dishes to Manage Cravings

Main Dishes to Manage CravingsMain Dishes to Manage Cravings

Tuna and Lentil Salad

This fresh and gratifying salad is bursting with nutrients and flavours. And if tuna is not your favourite, it tastes just as great with chicken. Get the recipe here.

What Makes This Recipe Great for Recovery

Beyond this deluxe tuna salad being tasty, it also has some key ingredients for recovery from addiction. The tuna (or chicken if you replace it) contains tryptophan which is an essential amino acid.  Essential amino acids are used as a precursor to serotonin. Therefore, consuming them can replenish serotonin where it may be depleted for those who are experiencing recovery. The lentil and tuna salad also contains vitamin B12, known to boost the production of dopamine and endorphins, which will help to get your nervous system back on track and boost positive emotions.

Fettuccine with Sweet Pepper-Cayenne Sauce

This hearty meal will serve as a healthy comfort food that is easy to make and will fill your home with a delicious aroma. Get the recipe here.

What Makes this Recipe Great for Recovery

This recipe is packed with ingredients to combat cravings. First, it is a carbohydrate rich meal which is great to create a sense of calmness in the mind. If you are battling with anxious thoughts, this recipe may be perfect to slow down rapid, cyclical thinking, which is common for those recovering from addiction. In addition, cayenne pepper has been proven to be very instrumental in specifically combatting alcohol cravings. It also helps with anxiety or irritability which can surface while detoxing from an addictive substance. Furthermore, cayenne pepper also helps with stomach issues or nausea which may result when weaning your body off of an addictive substance.

Treatment for Addiction

Ensuring you consume a healthy and balanced diet is essential in recovery. Nutrient-rich meals will significantly assist in reducing cravings, boosting your mood and giving you energy to continue recovering. The body is already using a lot of energy to return to a healthier state, so it is imperative to feed your body and mind with these healthy meals.

Eating healthy is just one of many facets in recovery – a journey that is far from easy and taking every step requires support. At the Cabin Hong Kong, our experienced addiction therapists are trained to offer you the best professional guidance. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction. Please contact us today.

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