One of the most common questions we get asked by patients is whether there is any particular alcohol detox foods and drinks that should be specifically eaten or avoided in order to help along the recovery process.
Especially if you’re going through alcohol detox programme at home, it is often the case that many patients sit at home wondering what the best things they could do to help the process may be.
While the simplest answer is to eat as healthy as possible and avoid too much salt, sugar and fat, there are a ton of things going on inside your body when you’re going through withdrawal, and replenishing the right nutrients can certainly make things go easier on you.
As a result, we’ve assembled a list of the top 10 best alcohol detox foods to eat in order to make things as easily as possible when recovering from alcohol dependency.
You’ll find those a little further down, but first:
Alcohol Withdrawal and Food Cravings
It is fairly common for recovering alcoholics to desperately crave sugar to the point that they struggle to eat anything else.
Often things like neurotransmitter imbalances, fluctuations in blood sugar content, or just addictive personalities are to blame.
Realistically, it’s probably a combination of all of the above, as the brain and body struggle to get over their addiction and begin to look for other sources of serotonin and other “feel good” chemicals.
Of course, these same chemicals can cause you to crave drinking again, which can be a serious problem for ex alcoholics for obvious reasons. Even when alcohol is no longer in your system, cravings can continue due to these imbalances.
If you have recently quit drinking or drugs or are going through withdrawal at home and regularly experience any of the below, you may well have a serotonin deficiency:
- Cravings for sugary treats
- Cravings for carbs and candy, especially in the evening or night
- Depression or anxiety
- Panic attacks
The cravings for sugary treats could just as easily be cravings for coffee, for drugs, for carbs – the point is, when your body stops receiving the serotonin boost it’s addicted to, it will try to find it by other places, causing these extreme cravings.
In this sense, going through an alcohol and junk food detox is arguably the quickest way to overcome your withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol Withdrawal: Food to Avoid
Unfortunately, the most important foods to avoid when overcoming withdrawal symptoms are greasy, fatty foods and too much sugar.
First and foremost, regular alcohol use over time destroys some of the body’s vitamin stores, leading to deficiencies in vitamin B6, thiamine, folic acid and more.
As a result, you need to eat extremely well with lots of fruits, vegetables and other nutrient rich foods in order to build up your stores again and keep your body healthy enough to fight off your withdrawal symptoms.
The other reason to avoid eating too much sugary or fatty foods is the one we already mentioned above.
During your period of experiencing withdrawal and for some time afterwards, your body is craving serotonin. Giving in to it too often can simply cause one addiction to become another, as you get addicted to getting serotonin from a different source entirely.
Eating healthy foods and being sure not to eat too much junk makes this a non issue, while keeping your body healthy – with that in mind, why wouldn’t you do it?
Alcohol Withdrawal: Best Foods
Now that you know why it’s so important to avoid your cravings for junk, what foods help when you are detoxing from alcohol at home?
Let’s take a look at the best foods you can eat to help you stay nourished and full of energy while getting your life back on track!
In no particular order:
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries etc give a boost of healthy natural sugars to help fight off your cravings for junk and satiate you, but they are also full of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
As a result, berries are a great way to keep snacking throughout the day without any of the negatives that usually come with that!
Whole grains are rich in fibre, which is crucial for the body when going through withdrawal.
Not only does fibre take longer to digest, therefore reducing hunger cravings, but it also gives a slow release of sugars, keeping your blood sugar at a steady level and helping to prevent mood swings.
Once you also take note of the fact that whole grains tend to be high in carbohydrates, you have a wholesome and beneficial family of foods that you should try to eat a portion of at least once per day, if possible.
Green vegetables are some of the most beneficial foods you can eat at any time, so it’s no surprise they are also one of the best foods for an alcohol detox!
Green vegetables like brocolli, asparagus and romaine lettuce are extremely high in vitamin B. Since alcoholism can cause vitamin B deficiency, you should aim to eat this vegetables as regularly as you can to start building your nutritional stores back up.
It’s also worth looking out for green leaves such as parsley and spinach – these are high in L-glutamine, which stops cravings for both sugar and alcohol.
Be careful though as cooking L-glutamine destroys it, so you should only eat the vegetables raw if you’re looking for this benefit specifically.
Cayenne pepper helps to fight cravings and can even increase your appetite, which is very helpful if nausea symptoms caused by your withdrawal are making it difficult to eat.
Even better, cayenne can help reduce those feelings of nausea, so adding it to your meals regularly can get you up and eating normally again earlier.
Vitamin D is another nutrient that you’ll likely be low on and should be rebuilding your stores of, and healthy fats are an excellent way to help satisfy your junk cravings while still eating healthy and avoiding the considerable downsides of eating lots of fats.
Luckily, fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon are high in both vitamin D and healthy fats such as omega-3.
On top of that, they are extremely high in protein, which helps your body recover from damage and helps you feel satisfied after a meal, all of which makes them an excellent regular addition to your diet.
Sunflower seeds raise your dopamine levels.
It is lows or crashes of dopamine that is one of the leading causes of alcohol cravings in recovering alcoholics, so raising them is an excellent way to protect yourself from these desire.
Not only that but seeds in general, from hemp seeds and and pumpkin seeds to sunflower seeds, are amazing detox foods that are high in fibre and nutrients but low in sugar and fats.
Who knew the humble sunflower seed could do you so much good?!
Foods High in Zinc
Zinc is a natural healer, working wonders for things like wounds and the immune system.
As a result, it will be a huge help for your recovery process and help your body get things back in order more quickly.
Some foods that are high in Zinc include beef, beans and nuts, so try to fit these into your diet whenever possible.
Bananas help to raise dopamine levels and fight cravings in a similar manner to sunflower seeds.
They are also high in potassium, which is a huge benefit for heart health and the caridiovascular system.
Since heavy, long term drinking can put a lot of stress on the heart, this is equally important and a banana a day might well keep the doctor away when it comes to your heart recovering from all the stress it’s been through.
Whole Wheat Bread
Not only is wholewheat grain full of fibre and carbs just like wholegrains themselves, but it’s also full of magnesium and an amazing way to easily and quickly satisfy your hunger.
Making the switch from white bread will give you a constant, regular source of fibre and help stave off hunger and alcohol cravings more than white bread ever could.
However, magnesium is also a powerful energy boost and helps protect the health of the muscles and the nervous system – two things that will need all the help they can get when going through withdrawal.
Foods High in Iron
Iron is how our body moves oxygen around.
Since it can be heavily depleted by drinking alcohol, you may be low on iron which will make your body struggle to move oxygen around as freely as it should.
Some foods that are high in iron include chicken, tofu, beans, and lentils.
Conveniently enough, you can pretty much make a complete meal with those, so make sure to use them in your alcohol detox diet as often and as liberally as possible.
That’s it for today, but we have experienced nutritionists on hand at all times do don’t be afraid to contact us if you wish to discuss nutrition when going through alcohol withdrawal, or anything else related to quitting drinking or drugs!
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What is the best diet for recovering alcoholic people? ›
Experts suggest a diet with lots of complex carbs like whole grains, veggies, peas, and beans. Amino acids. Your brain needs amino acids to make dopamine. Without it, you can have strong cravings, mood swings, and hostile behavior.What should you eat if you are an alcoholic? ›
- Eat healthily. ...
- Avoid foods containing refined sugars and white flours.
- Eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods. ...
- Drink an adequate amount of water each day. ...
- Try to eat at least three healthy meals each, even if your appetite is poor. ...
- Avoid caffeine.
- Avoid all sources of nicotine.
Participating in positive activities can provide a healthy way to deal with stress and cravings. Consider meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, journaling, or playing sports. Moving into sober living. Having a drug-free living environment is important for maintaining sobriety.What should I eat and drink on recovery days? ›
- Carbohydrates. Eat complex carbs to restore your glycogen levels. ...
- Water. It's essential to drink enough water, even when you're not working out. ...
- Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies offer healthy carbs and nutrients that support recovery.
The best detox foods are vegetables, fruit, whole-grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Vegetables and fruits contain enzymes that help improve digestion and also many nutrients that are strong detoxifying agents.What vitamin deficiency is most common in alcoholics? ›
Thiamine deficiency, although rare in most developed countries, is common in people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol. Up to 80% of people with an addiction to alcohol develop thiamine deficiency.Why am I so hungry after quitting alcohol? ›
As your gut heals, you may gain weight from increased appetite and increased food absorption. Often, this is a good sign, especially if you were underweight before. Since excessive drinking can also go along with eating disorders, weight gain might be a sign of a healthier relationship with food.How long does alcohol affect recovery? ›
But if you skip the recovery meal, getting your calories from alcohol instead (e.g. a “recovery beer”) will hurt your body's ability to restock glycogen stores. The result: After a muscle-damaging workout like lifting weights or sprinting, your muscles may not function optimally for three to five days.What happens when you drink alcohol everyday? ›
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including: High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.Is it possible to quit drinking on your own? ›
It may be possible for you to moderate or quit on your own, but it is dangerous to undergo withdrawal without supervision. It's best to speak to a doctor first, especially if you have a heavier drinking habit and you expect more severe withdrawal symptoms.
What is a simple food for recovery? ›
Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula and water cress top the ranking of nutrient-dense foods. These powerhouse plants are packed with vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Especially chlorophyll, the green pigment that absorbs energy from sunlight, has been touted for its healing benefits.Do bananas help with recovery? ›
The bottom Line. Like most fruit, bananas are a great food to eat after a workout. Doing so can reduce inflammation and replenish muscle glycogen stores, ultimately promoting quicker recovery. In addition to helping with recovery, eating this fruit before or during a workout can be beneficial.What is a recovery diet? ›
The recovery diet encourages physique athletes to gain 5-10% of their stage weight within the first 4-8 weeks post show. This is with the intention to accelerate body fat gain and have the competitor back within a “healthy” body fat range sooner rather than later.How can I make my recovery faster? ›
- Drink a lot of water. Hydrating after a workout is key to recovery. ...
- Get enough sleep. Getting proper rest is easily one of the most effective ways to recover from any form or degree of physical exertion. ...
- Eat nutritious food. ...
Although intuitively you might think you don't need as much food on your rest days, it's important to eat as you normally would between workouts to replenish your glycogen stores for energy, promote muscle recovery and growth, and support your body's essential daily functions.What are the best foods to eat to stay sober? ›
- Eggs. Eggs are highly nutritious and filling, packing 6 grams (g) of protein per egg ( 1 ). ...
- Oats. ...
- Bananas. ...
- Salmon. ...
- Greek yogurt. ...
- Chia pudding. ...
- Berries. ...
Most detoxification programs recommend removing highly processed foods and foods to which some people are sensitive, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and red meat. They also recommend eating mostly organically grown vegetables, fruit, whole non-glutenous grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein.What is the best drink to flush your liver? ›
- Lemon Water.
- Ginger and Lemon Drink.
- Grapefruit Juice.
- Tumeric Tea.
- Green Tea.
- Chamomile Tea.
- Oat Tea.
- Jujube Fruit Juice.
Choose Bananas as a Go-To Snack
Interestingly, bananas have also been linked to reducing depression. They can help you with any gastrointestinal issues you may be having during your detox. If you're not a fan of bananas, you'll need to make sure to get fiber from other sources.
Heavy drinkers may benefit from adding vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, and B9 supplements as indicated by symptoms of deficiencies, and under professional medical guidance. Vitamin B1 deficiency can be treated by ceasing alcohol consumption (with professional help), improving nutritional factors, and taking B1 supplements.
Does alcohol deplete B12? ›
Alcohol use inhibits absorption of nutrients.
Not only is alcohol devoid of proteins, minerals, and vitamins, it actually inhibits the absorption and usage of vital nutrients such as thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc.
Excessive intake of alcohol may reduce the absorption of vitamin B12.Why can't I stop eating when I quit drinking? ›
Also, some people experience post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, which is emotional numbness resulting from low dopamine levels. Excessive eating is one way to temporarily boost those dopamine levels and make you feel better, but it can easily become a transfer addiction.How long does it take to lose weight after quitting alcohol? ›
Someone who goes from daily alcohol drinking to stopping altogether can expect to see physical body composition changes as well as weight loss in the days or weeks after they quit drinking alcohol.How much weight will I lose if I stop drinking alcohol for a month? ›
Depending on how much you drank, your starting weight, your age, and how you've treated diet and exercise since you stopped drinking, it's not uncommon to lose anywhere between 6-15 pounds after a month without alcohol.What happens to your body the first week of sobriety? ›
Some of the most typical symptoms during the first week of sobriety include: Headaches, severe sweating, hand tremors ('the shakes') Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, nightmares. Anxiety, fear.Does life get better after quitting alcohol? ›
When you quit alcohol, your body a chance to increase serotonin without depletion, so you may actually feel happier over time. Still, improved mental health doesn't always happen immediately or seamlessly once we remove alcohol (and that's okay). Sobriety can be the starting point for confronting mental health issues.How long does anxiety last after quitting drinking? ›
If you are physically dependent on alcohol, you can experience anxiety symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal that last approximately 3-7 days, with the first 48 hours being the most difficult. Some people can experience anxiety symptoms that last longer than 7 days.What are the 4 types of drinker? ›
- Social drinking. To date, nearly all the research on drinking motives has been done on teens and young adults. ...
- Drinking to conform. ...
- Drinking for enhancement. ...
- Drinking to cope.
Generally, symptoms of alcoholic liver disease include abdominal pain and tenderness, dry mouth and increased thirst, fatigue, jaundice (which is yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, and nausea. Your skin may look abnormally dark or light.
What are the first signs of kidney damage from alcohol? ›
- swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet due to fluid retention.
- loss of appetite.
- change in urine.
- kidney pain.
However, by day 4 without alcohol, most people will have got beyond any initial withdrawal symptoms. All the alcohol will have left your system by now, and your body will begin to bounce back. If you're not as focused on alcohol, you may be eating better, drinking water, moving more, and perhaps sleeping more deeply.What can I drink instead of alcohol? ›
- Soda and fresh lime. Proof that simple is still the best.
- Berries in iced water. This summery drink will keep you refreshed and revitalised.
- Kombucha. ...
- Virgin bloody Mary. ...
- Virgin Mojito. ...
- Half soda/half cranberry juice and muddled lime. ...
- Soda and fresh fruit. ...
In a practical sense, this means the number of serious recovery attempts an individual needs varies depending on how severe their circumstances are (e.g., depression, lack of social support, addiction severity). Accordingly, some people need many attempts, but most people need 2 or less.What is a daily routine for recovering alcoholics? ›
- Set regular times for going to bed and waking up.
- Attend to personal hygiene.
- Plan a daily list of tasks to be accomplished.
- Cook healthy meals.
- Set aside time for self-care as needed, such as relaxation activities.
- Go to work, attend classes, or look for work.
- Plan regular workouts.
- How do I stop drinking?
- Set goals and prepare for change.
- Cutting back vs. quitting alcohol altogether.
- Alcohol addiction treatment options.
- Withdrawing from alcohol safely.
- Get support.
- Find new meaning in life.
- Plan for triggers and cravings.
Step 8: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” The pathway toward renewal and personal growth in recovery is a gradual one.What are the 3 R's of recovery? ›
After exercise there are a few things you can do to recover quicker and eliminate soreness, such as massaging your muscles with the foam roller, practicing yoga, and light stretching. Whenever your body needs a break, just remember The Three R's, replenish, rest and recover.What are the 4 R's of recovery? ›
Based on the available evidence, we have identified a mnemonic entitled the 4R's which stands for Rehydrate, Refuel, Repair, and Rest.
Although intuitively you might think you don't need as much food on your rest days, it's important to eat as you normally would between workouts to replenish your glycogen stores for energy, promote muscle recovery and growth, and support your body's essential daily functions.