Nutritional Issues We See in Women Entering Treatment

nutritional issues

Substance abuse leads to an alarming array of health issues, one of which is malnutrition. Women entering treatment often present with nutrient deficiencies stemming from inconsistent mealtimes and choosing processed foods that lack sufficient vitamins and minerals. As National Nutrition Month continues, what are some frequent nutritional issues we see in women entering addiction treatment?  

How Substance Abuse Links to Nutritional Issues

Drug and alcohol misuse impacts mental health, damages vital organs and can compromise your immune system’s ability to fight illness. Addiction also tends to accompany other unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as poor eating patterns, lack of exercise and sleep disruptions. These compounding factors result in an increased risk of long-term health problems, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, weight fluctuations and eating disorders.

Besides affecting your relationship with food, substance abuse can harm your digestive system and affect your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from the meals you eat. Even if you prepare and consume well-balanced foods and eat the recommended three meals per day, addiction can rob you of the nourishment you need to stay healthy and avoid the health issues associated with malnutrition.

Some drugs, such as stimulants, may suppress your appetite and disrupt your metabolism, leading to inadequate calorie consumption and impaired nutrient processing. Substances such as marijuana may cause your appetite to spike, leading to weight gain. As a result, women who enter treatment are often under- or overweight in addition to being undernourished. 

How Food Affects Mood

Eating an unhealthy, imbalanced diet that lacks essential vitamins and minerals can also cause or worsen mood disorders like depression and anxiety. The resulting irritability, sadness or stress might lead you to seek relief in negative coping mechanisms like drinking and drug use, thus precipitating a more rapid progression of addiction.

The truism “You are what you eat” applies equally to your physical and mental health. Eat more of the following foods to experience a boost in your mood and energy level throughout the day.

  • Sources of omega-3 acids, which include fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseed
  • Fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi and kefir
  • Folate-rich vegetables, like spinach, avocados, broccoli and lentils
  • Whole grains, including quinoa and brown rice  

When shopping for groceries, stock up on plenty of fresh produce, lean protein sources, fiber-rich foods and low-fat dairy. A good rule of thumb is to stick to the store’s perimeter, which tends to contain more nutritious, “whole” foods, as opposed to the middle aisles, where most stores stock the sugary, carb-laden and processed foods. It’s also a smart strategy to make a shopping list before you head to the store, so you don’t get tempted into making impulse buys.

Make Nutrition a Recovery Priority

Balanced meals are an essential component of recovering from a substance use disorder and maintaining an appropriate weight. Eating regular meals and snacks, staying hydrated and increasing your physical activity level will help improve malnutrition, maintain healthy stress levels and improve your sleep hygiene.

At Canyon Crossing, we specifically address nutritional issues for women because we know a healthful lifestyle can promote mental well-being. Establishing smart dietary habits in substance abuse treatment also helps women sustain long-term sobriety as they work on reversing the effects of drinking and drug use. To learn more about addiction rehab in a nurturing, women’s-only environment, please contact us today.

Benefits of Residential AddictionTreatment

You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick. This is the philosophy behind our residential addiction treatment program. At Canyon Crossing, women learn to live life on life’s terms while staying in a safe, substance-free setting. This gives our clients the space and peace needed for lasting recovery.
Our residential program combines high-accountability sober living arrangements with first-rate clinical care. While staying in our homes, clients participate in process groups, one-on-one counseling sessions, and hands-on learning opportunities. They also receive ongoing training; in these meetings, life skills like financial management and conflict resolution are imparted. All of this happens with 24/7 encouragement, guidance, and supervision from our clinical team.
Scroll to Top