4 Ways Mindful Eating Will Enhance Your Addiction Recovery
“Better to eat a dry crust of bread with peace of mind
than have a banquet in a house full of trouble.”
– Proverbs 17:1
Don’t get me wrong reading the quote above – I’m not particularly religious, whatever my Mom might say. However, I do find the Bible to be a great source of good, common sense advice (and such advice that easily stands the test of time, and the way in which our world keeps constantly changing), and the quote above is a fine example of that. It’s good because it’s true.
My parents took me on a road trip once, only to the next state over. And left me there. The place we went to was a drug and alcohol rehab facility – the staff there were expecting me. After an adolescence of chronic substance abuse, primarily alcohol, meth and weed, which had brought nothing but endless stress for my Mom and Dad, family and friends, and even a spell in prison for me, it was time for them to take action, as I was in no fit state at that point to do anything but get wasted each and every day.
As my parents left me, my Mom looked at me, wet-eyed but smiling, and said that she didn’t expect me to find God in that place, but she hoped He at least would be sat at my side as I finally dealt with all that was so fundamentally wrong in my addicted life.
Rehab for me was a learning process like no other I had experienced. Each day taught me so many new things, about myself, other people, the decisions we make, and how I could live drug and alcohol-free. But only if I truly wanted it that way. It was all a choice. One physician said I was lucky to be able to make the choice. A few more months of my extreme level of substance abuse would have taken any choices away from me if you get my drift. If you don’t, I’d be too dead to do anything.
One of the primary elements of a new, sober and fulfilling life that was introduced to me was the practice of mindfulness. I slowly, through its practice, began to find that new way of living that others spoke of, a way to experience things in a totally different manner to anything I had ever done before.
One of my favorite times of day at rehab (and this may make you laugh) was breakfast. Sat with my new-found friends, addicts like myself who were on their own search, as well as members of staff, we would talk, laugh, and then occasionally drift off into our own worlds as we enjoyed the simple, wonderful taste of the morning fruits laid out for us – whole, sliced, skinned, cubed and liquified – you name it.
Yes, that was an integral part of how my mornings used to kick off in rehab – just sitting calmly, and enjoying the fruit. A simple pleasure that felt wonderful.
My name is Andy, I’m a successful digital marketing entrepreneur, 30-something, I can still throw myself around a basketball court with the best of them, and, yes, I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with over 9 years of continued sobriety behind me. And I still do really enjoy my cup of tea and my fresh fruit in the morning as I start another day of addiction recovery.
Seeing as eating healthily is now one of my passions, I figured it was time to write an article about mindful eating. So I did. Here you are:
Establish Connections Between Mind & Body
During rehab, as a way to repair both the physical damage addiction had wreaked on my body, and to help my brain through nutrition to return to normal (yes, addiction will actually restructure your brain), healthy eating was a buzzword and a must-do. We live in a world where our lives are forced to be lived quickly if we allow it. Because of this, we eat faster, and allow way too many distractions while doing so – the TV, our phones, work – the list goes on.
Once our practice of mindfulness had been established into our daily schedules, we then began to re-establish the connections between our mind and body through healthy eating. Mindful eating helps us to eat in a conscious way and helps us to recognize more knowingly when we are hungry – and when we are full. Did you know that mindful eating is a useful form of therapy for those who suffer from eating disorders or obesity? As a recovering addict, it helps to create a better balance between our body’s needs, and the actions our brains take to respond.
Comfort eating often referred to as “feeding your feelings,” is a behavior instigated in childhood, because we are taught to associate food with reward. If you live in the U.S. (in fact, anywhere in western society), this usually involves fast food, ice-cream – you get the picture.
Mindful eating re-educates the recovering addict in their approach to food, and, in particular, helps to alleviate this behavior of “feeding the feeling.” By doing so, I became less reliant on food as my way to fight against cravings and emotions.
Once an addict has been detoxed, quite unsurprisingly, they eat like they’ve never eaten before. Psychologically-speaking, it is actually the same behavior manifested by their addiction, so by introducing mindful eating into the recovery program, you not only improve the way people do eat, you also provide them with a way to control their weight.
The way that substance abusers seek satisfaction is inherently self-destructive, and once fully addicted, severely damaging as a way to seek pleasure – the need for chemical toxins to simply get high. Mindful eating is the complete opposite of this – the entire process is based on gaining as much pleasure as possible from the simple process of something as natural as eating. Furthermore, mindful eating will strengthen a weakened body, reduce the chances of obesity in the process, and thus avoid the damaging effects of being overweight.
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.”
– Brian O’Driscoll, Irish ex-professional rugby player
So that’s my article: “4 Ways Mindful Eating Will Enhance Your Addiction Recovery.” These benefits of mindful eating – establishing connections between your mind and body, controlling comfort eating, weight control, and mindful eating as a healthy pleasure – will combine to make you healthier, calmer, and far more in touch with your body’s nutritional needs.
How has mindful eating helped you? Please share with a comment below. Now, where’s the fruit basket gone?