Building the Perfect Plate

Trying to eat right and stay healthy is a challenge for most people, but as a person in recovery, you have the added complexity of making food choices that can help repair your body and stave off any cravings to use alcohol and drugs. Here are some simple tips to help you incorporate healthy foods into your diet.

Change the way you think

The first step into cleaning up what you eat is changing your mindset. Don’t think about yourself as adopting a new diet but rather a new way of eating to improve your overall health. If you begin to think of yourself as adapting your current diet to a healthier yet manageable one, you will see more success.

Look at what foods you need to add to your plate

Healthy Eating Plate

You now may be all psyched to start eating healthy foods, but you might not know which healthy foods to eat. The food guide that is issued by the USDA is actually a good place to start! The chart easily highlights which food groups you should have in your daily diet and how much of each group you should eat.

The diet that you need to maintain to help rebalance your life should include:

  • Lean proteins like chicken, salmon, and beans to help build and repair your body
  • Carbohydrates found in rolled oats and lentils are great sources for energy
  • Fats that are naturally found in nuts and avocados are also great for improving energy
  • Vitamins such as B, D, and E will help your body to perform essential metabolic activities. These can be found in peanuts, milk, and sunflower seeds
  • Minerals such as calcium and potassium, found in broccoli and bananas, will help your metabolism and keep your body functioning properly
  • Water because this accounts for 70% of the composition of the body and also helps maintain proper function of your body’s organs

Find out what you like to eat, and incorporate healthy alternatives

Most people who plan to change the way they eat begin by adding a whole bunch of stuff that they really don’t like to their meal plans. This will inevitably end in failure, as we humans aren’t too keen on torturing our taste buds and will quickly nix the things that we can’t stand. This oftentimes results in diminished self-motivation and you creeping back to your favorite, unhealthy snacks and meals.

To avoid this, start by listing those unhealthy meals and snacks you love. Maybe you are a cheeseburger and fries person who also enjoys a bite or two of chocolate during the evening. A healthier alternative to eating those things would be to try a Portobello mushroom burger or a turkey burger with a side of baked sweet potato fries. For that chocolate craving, you can substitute dark chocolate with at least a 70 percent cacao (or cocoa) content or even carob—a naturally found sweet food rich in calcium and fiber without caffeine—as a treat for yourself. With your new mindset you will be more inclined to try alternatives that you may just find tasty.

Another tip: make a list of the fruits and veggies that you do like to eat and look for some meal inspirations using them. You can look up your favorites on Pinterest for instance and find delicious, out-of-the-box recipes for them.

Moderation is key

It is important to remember that when adopting any new lifestyle, moderation is key. You don’t want to immediately ban all of your favorite foods; you will end up craving them even more. Start off with limiting your intake of unhealthy meals and snacks by using the healthy alternatives as mentioned above. You can then eat your favorite foods sparingly or even use them as exactly what they are indulgences.

As you progress in your recovery it is important for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When you adopt a new way of providing your body with nutrients, a lot of which have been depleted from addiction, you will begin to see and feel changes in yourself that can be really exciting.  You will have more energy, less stress, a better handle on weight control, and even better brain health!

Pair your new way of eating with an active lifestyle of 30 mins of gym time or even walking a day, and you will really feel pumped about yourself!  But start with setting goals for yourself to incorporate your healthy alternatives. Add the substitutions in increments and increase them as you go along. Keep in mind that having some junk food or sweets every now and then while still maintaining your healthy eating lifestyle is alright—it’s all about being balanced.