Nutrition and Dietary Tips from Catalina to Support Sobriety
I watched my mom struggle with alcohol addiction for years and I know firsthand how much harder it is when you don’t have the right support in place. Sometimes, support can even be as simple as adding these foods that stop alcohol cravings to your diet.
The reality is that support for alcohol addiction is more than just having a support system in place and going to 12-step meetings. When you eat certain foods, it can actually decrease alcohol cravings so you don’t have to work as hard to resist drinking.
At Catalina Behavioral Health, we know that alcohol abuse or addiction is hard enough on its own. So, why make it harder than it has to be? Let’s check out these foods that reduce alcohol cravings so you can start making your sobriety easier today!
9 of the Best Foods That Stop Alcohol Cravings
1) Dark Chocolate to Help with Sugar Cravings
Whether your drink of choice was beer, wine, or liquor, many types of alcohol are full of sugar. That’s the reason that recovering alcoholics often crave sugar and carbohydrates when quitting drinking.
When you have alcohol cravings, foods like dark chocolate will satisfy those sweet cravings in a healthy way. Plus, dark chocolate is full of good-for-you antioxidants and minerals like magnesium.
Magnesium plays a big role in alcohol recovery because it balances certain enzymes that promote liver health. Furthermore, heavy alcohol consumption depletes levels of magnesium in the body.
Magnesium deficiency is associated with alcoholism and also contributes to depression. By keeping your mental health under control, you’re less likely to have alcohol cravings.
2) Fruits and Vegetables Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Over time, drinking alcohol greatly impacts your blood sugar levels. While it’s no longer believed that your body converts alcohol to sugar, it is known that alcohol consumption has a yo-yo effect on glucose levels.
When you first consume alcohol, your blood sugar does rise. However, your liver stops making glucose when it processes alcohol and this causes blood sugar levels to drop. For alcoholics, this drop can make them crave alcohol.
Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber that stabilizes blood sugar levels. Steady blood sugar levels significantly reduce alcohol cravings.
3) Opt for Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables
Not all fruits and vegetables are created equally. Certain produce like berries, peppers, and dark, leafy greens contain higher levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals. These antioxidants reduce inflammation in the body and reduce oxidative stress.
Phytochemicals are important because they protect your body from toxins in your environment and what you consume. This reduces your risk of certain diseases and promotes physical health after you’ve been struggling with alcohol use disorder. Additionally, vegetables high in Vitamin B will provide energy for your body’s metabolic processes.
4) Whole Grains to Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes
Whole grains include foods like quinoa, whole-grain bread, brown rice, oats, and other complex carbohydrates. Processed carbohydrates like white bread and noodles can cause blood sugar spikes because of how they are processed by the body.
When you eat complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread, though, it provides sustainable energy and prevents sugar spikes to curb alcohol cravings. Additionally, whole grains are full of dietary fiber that promotes a healthy digestive system and gut.
5) Eat Healthy Fats for Brain Support
We’ve already talked about how alcohol changes your brain. Healthy fats are another way that you can help raise dopamine levels in the brain after alcohol detox and curb alcohol cravings. They also support mental health, which is important for reducing your urge to drink.
Some foods high in good-for-you fats include nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil (and some other oils), and avocados. When choosing fatty foods, look for foods with unsaturated fats rather than saturated or trans fats.
6) Foods Rich in Protein Amino Acids Support Brain Health
Eating high-protein foods that are high in amino acids supports a balanced brain chemistry. Some good choices include lean proteins, fish, tofu, eggs, and legumes.
Amino acids are important because your body synthesizes them into important neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters get depleted with long-term alcohol use, as your body starts relying on alcohol to provide feelings of well-being. Healing these changes will significantly reduce cravings for alcohol.
Additionally, protein-rich foods take longer to digest in the body. This keeps you feeling fuller longer, reducing alcohol cravings.
7) Tryptophan-Rich Foods Boost Serotonin Production
Tryptophan is an important amino acid for raising serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. These hormones play a big role in depression and mental health. When you decrease depression, it helps fight cravings.
Some foods rich in tryptophan include chicken and turkey, cheese, milk, egg whites, fish, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, soybeans, and sesame seeds.
It’s also important to be sure you are getting enough Vitamin D, which plays a critical role in synthesizing serotonin and dopamine. Foods high in this vitamin include salmon, swordfish, tuna, sardines, beef liver, egg yolks, fortified milk, fortified cereals, and fortified orange juice.
8) Support Gut Health with Probiotics
Research shows that there is a strong link between the foods you eat, your gut biome, and brain health. Your digestive tract is home to more than 100 trillion microorganisms that are important for immunity, metabolism, brain health, and much more.
In addition to playing a critical role in the production of important hormones, your gut health also affects your immune system. Providing support for your brain and immune system after substance abuse is important for physical and mental recovery.
Some beneficial foods for a healthy gut include fermented foods like plain organic yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, certain types of cheese, and pickled foods. Eating fiber-rich foods like whole wheat bread and avoiding processed foods also promotes gut biome health.
9) Try Spicy Foods for a Healthy Distraction
Spicy foods can be a useful tool to help with cravings for alcohol. Eating spicy foods triggers the release of endorphins in the brain similar to those released when drinking. Unlike drinking though, spicy foods are not going to drain your wallet, cause relationship problems, and ruin your life.
Many people find that eating foods that are spicy is a great distraction when they have an intense urge to drink. This is especially true when you practice mindful eating.
A Multivitamin Provides Nutritional Support
Long-term alcohol abuse affects how well your body absorbs, stores, and uses different vitamins and minerals. Some vitamins that alcohol users are frequently deficient in include Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, A, C, D, E, and K. Micronutrient deficiencies are also common, including low levels of magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
A multivitamin provides essential nutrients that will help your body heal after alcoholism. However, some doctors will also prescribe Vitamin B or other natural supplements to help with alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
It’s not uncommon for an alcoholic’s system to go into shock when drinking is stopped. This can cause symptoms that are both unpleasant and dangerous. By regulating vitamin and mineral levels, it reduces some of these symptoms and prevents severe conditions like Wernicke’s encephalopathy.
What Causes Alcohol Cravings?
Many of our clients will tell you that getting sober was one of the hardest things that they’ve done in their lives. Likely, this is because long-term alcohol use changes the chemistry of your brain and how hard it is to deal with alcohol cravings.
Dopamine particularly interacts with the pleasure and reward center of your brain. This means when you drink to relax or improve your mood, drinking produces positive feelings. This leads you to crave alcohol.
Furthermore, the changes to the neurotransmitters increase your tolerance to alcohol so you need to drink more to feel the same. They can also make you more susceptible to withdrawal symptoms when you quit.
How Does a Balanced Diet Benefit Alcohol Addiction?
A balanced diet helps reduce alcohol withdrawals and cravings in several ways. First, alcoholism depletes vitamins and minerals in your body over time. A balanced diet helps balance these vitamins and minerals to promote healing and curb cravings.
Additionally, certain vitamins (like B6) play a role in the production of serotonin, which plays a role in feelings of well-being. Improved mood reduces the temptation to drink. Plus, eating healthy will support brain chemistry and promote the body’s ability to heal.
Finally, by eating foods that balance minerals and blood sugar levels, you are less likely to crave that nutrition. It can be hard to distinguish food cravings from alcohol cravings, so stopping all types of cravings benefits your recovery.
Mindful Eating to Complement Foods That Stop Alcohol Cravings
Practicing mindful eating is another way that your diet can support addiction recovery and curb alcohol cravings. The practice of mindfulness involves being in the moment. This means chewing slowly and enjoying the tastes and textures of your food, rather than just eating it to eat.
You can be mindful during the entire process of preparing and eating food. Many people find that a mindfulness practice is a useful tool for recovery from alcohol use disorders. It can provide a healthy distraction if you’re having cravings for alcohol.
Get Support for Sobriety with Help from Catalina
No matter where you are on your sobriety journey, our team at Catalina can give you the tools that you need for success. Managing alcohol cravings is not always something that you can do alone. Having proper support is important and eating a healthy diet is just one more way to support yourself.
Catalina Behavioral Health offers detox programs that can help if you are having alcohol withdrawal symptoms and can help you put support in place for when you’re experiencing alcohol cravings.
It’s never too late to take control and start healing, so reach out for help at Catalina today!