Nutrition Program

Nutritional Needs for Women in Recovery for Drug Addiction

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

Food and diet have long been a source of health. Without proper nutrition, all manner of adverse health consequences can arise. With the right food, people can get the nutrition they need and heal problems caused by nutritional deficiencies. But, the proper diet is as varied as the individual eating it, and women have different dietary needs than men. Also, women going through drug addiction and recovery have nutritional needs that are particular to their situation. The right foods can speed up the recovery process or slow it down and worsen withdrawal symptoms. Below is an overview of women’s dietary needs and how they change during the withdrawal and recovery process.

What foods are suitable for a woman’s brain?

The brain has specific nutritional needs in order to function at optimum capacity. Without the right minerals and vitamins, the mind can become sluggish and tired, causing brain fog or decreased ability to remember things. In addition, a long-term lack of proper brain nutrition can increase a woman’s risk of stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Nutrition Symbolized by Fruits and Vegetables on a Counter with an Electronic Tablet and Printed out Charts

Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most critical nutrients for optimum brain health. Not only are omega-3s good for the brain, but they’re also beneficial for the heart and joints. Omega-3s aren’t produced naturally in the body and must be obtained through food sources. Omega-3s can be found in the following foods:

  • Oily fish, such as salmon, halibut, trout, sardines, albacore, herring, tuna, catfish, and cod
  • Shrimp and clams
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed and canola oil

Whole grains, dark chocolate, berries and leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants which help prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimers, too.

What foods should women avoid during recovery?

Women should avoid caffeinated drinks and refined sugar during recovery. These foods can spike anxiety levels, and refined sugar will raise blood glucose levels, which can trigger drug cravings. Many drug withdrawals include symptoms of anxiety, and caffeine can increase anxious feelings, and also prevent women from getting much needed rest during addiction recovery.

What dietary supplements should women take?

Women can increase their consumption of brain-boosting omega-3s with cod liver and fish oil supplements. Also, women have more significant needs for calcium than men and should take calcium supplements to keep their bones healthy. Drug abuse will leech essential nutrients from the bones and organs and by supplementing their diet, women can replace what’s been lost through drug abuse and get their health back on track.

How should diet change during pregnancy?

Pregnancy requires women to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and certain foods that can harm the baby. Soft cheeses, lunch meats, and undercooked, raw foods like cocktail shrimp increase the risk of infection in the fetus.

A growing fetus requires a lot of nutrients that it can only get through the mother’s diet. If the mother doesn’t replace these essential nutrients with supplements and vitamins, the fetus will take them from the mother’s natural stores. Women who don’t take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy are at increased risk of osteoporosis and tooth decay. The fetus needs a lot of calcium from the mother to grow a complete skeletal system. During pregnancy, women should take prenatal vitamins, eat a wholesome, clean diet, and increase their caloric intake by about 300 calories per day.

How should a diet change as women age?

During pregnancy and the childbearing years, women need increased access to foods that are rich in calcium and iron. Green leafy vegetables and wholesome dairy products, as well as vitamins,  should be a part of a woman’s daily dietary intake. Once women reach menopause, their metabolism will slow down. They will need to consume fewer calories and foods that are fatty or sugary if they want to avoid gaining weight. As women age, joints can become creaky and they’ll need omega-3s to prevent arthritis and dementia.

Eating healthy through all stages of life can prolong a woman’s lifespan and also protect the quality of her life. If women are going through the rigors of drug addiction recovery, they will need to be especially mindful of their diet. Drug abuse can cause serious nutritional deficiencies, but drug rehab centers are staffed with knowledgeable doctors who know how important food is for women in recovery. A wholesome diet is part of a patient’s tailor-made treatment plan and can help women feel healthier while they go through withdrawals and reach sobriety.


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