Foods to Avoid During Recovery

What we put into our bodies affects how we feel. For someone that is going through drug rehab, the need to treat the body well is even higher because the body needs to safely and properly detoxify. If you have a child in teen rehab, you can help them establish healthy habits to nourish their brains and body.

drug rehab for teens

Health and Addiction

The first year out of rehab is a delicate period. The body has to readjust to consuming more or less food and no longer receives a substance it became accustomed to receiving.  During the detoxifying period, there are fewer nutrients available in addition to the already minimized stored nutrients the body had during using. 

When the body becomes reliant on substances to function, it disturbs the body’s appetite. Depending on the substance your teen has become addicted to, it has more than likely interfered with their nutrition. Common issues include overeating that can lead to obesity, suppressed eating that can lead to brain impairment, malnutrition that can lead to the body’s inability to absorb nutrients, immune system damage that can lead to infections and illness, low blood sugar that can lead to hypoglycemia, and substances causing gastrointestinal disorders.   

What to Avoid

Foods and liquids have the ability to affect the moods of a person. For a person in recovery, they need to be holistically treated–addressing their addiction and mental health issues–to have greater and lasting success. Foods and drinks high in sugar have shown to provoke depression and anxiety because of the blood spike high and sugar crash.  As a caregiver to a teen with a substance use problem, you can help your teen make better nutrition choices.

Foods + Drinks That Worsen Mental Health

  • Soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Coffee in excess
  • Energy drinks
  • Fried foods
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Foods high in fat
  • Foods heavy on dairy
  • Foods with high-fructose corn syrup 
  • Foods with hydrogenated oils
  • Foods high in trans fat

What to Eat

In order for the body to properly recover from the substances it craves and to feel well, it needs a nutrient-dense diet that will balance the serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the body that is partly responsible for brain function.  It is found in the brain, intestines, blood, and connective tissues. The chemical transmits information to the nervous system and contributes to a person’s wellbeing. Having low serotonin levels has been linked to mood disorders, such as depression, that can trigger people to misuse substances. 

Tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin, can be found in proteins and complex carbohydrate foods. It also supports better quality sleep. Carbohydrates are necessary for a hearty diet. They provide the body with energy and they are key to getting the tryptophan to reach the brain to create serotonin. 

Foods Rich In Tryptophan

  • Lamb
  • Ground pork
  • Chicken breast
  • Turkey breast
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Spinach
  • Spirulina
  • Soybeans
  • Koyadofu
  • White beans
  • Cranberry beans
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds