Alcohol cravings are likened to the urge of hunger, which varies in intensity as well as symptoms. A report from the American Psychological Association says that alcohol cravings occur as a physiological response to internal or external cues, such as pleasant memories of drinking or the scent of alcohol. Nutritional balance is significant in reducing alcohol cravings and the common side effects of withdrawal, such as anxiety or tension, low energy and lack of sleep, as well as digestive upset and bowel disruption.
Breads, Pasta and Rice
Complex carbohydrate containing foods are significant for reducing the sugar cravings associated with alcohol recovery. Complex carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the blood and used as energy. However, unlike simple sugar containing foods, such as candy or potato chips, complex carbohydrates allow you to retain energy longer and do not cause a sugar rush and crash. The Pacific Northwest Relapse Prevention Specialists say that simple sugars from these sources produce a chemical reaction that induces stress on your body, which increases cravings for alcohol. Choose complex carbohydrates made of whole grains, wheat or bran. Whole-grain pasta, brown rice and oatmeal are energy-supplying foods that also provide vitamins and minerals for healthy nervous-system functioning.
Bananas, Peas and Leafy Greens
The B vitamins are extremely important in alcohol recovery and craving reduction, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This group of vitamins provides your body with energy to combat fatigue, helps in the production of red blood cells for proper brain and heart functions as well as helps to metabolize nutrients properly during digestion. These vitamins are also important for increasing serotonin production, which helps to lower the incidence of depression and anxiety experienced during the initial withdrawal from alcohol. Eating five to eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily provides adequate amounts of B vitamins. Choose snacks with bananas and raisins, or eat a lunch salad full of greens such as romaine lettuce, broccoli and spinach. Add peas or beets as a side dish for dinner and enjoy oranges, grapefruit or melons for dessert.
Chicken, Salmon and Dairy
Protein is important for maintaining muscular and tissue health as well as mediating the neurotransmitters in your brain that impact mood, sleep and digestion. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a healthy recovery diet includes increasing protein intake. Baked, grilled or broiled chicken seasoned with pepper, herbs and spices is a good source of protein. Fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are also low-fat options. Choose dairy products made with low-fat milk, such as yogurt or cheese, for snacks. Try not to eat fatty red meats during your initial recovery because this may cause high cholesterol and blood pressure problems.
Additional Nutritional Needs
In the event of chronic alcoholism, you may require specific nutrients for recovery, such as thiamine. Thiamine is a B vitamin that is often deficient in those with long-term alcoholism. Consult your physician regarding a thiamine supplement, and eat foods such as pork, soybeans and wheat germ to increase daily intake of this vitamin. Limit your intake of caffeine, which can prompt alcohol cravings, according to Lawrence Wilson, MD at The Center for Development . Eat three balanced meals and three small snacks every day to prevent malnourishment. Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily to prevent dehydration and support kidney health.
- American Psychological Association: Pavlovian Psychopharmacology
- Peace Health: Alcohol Withdrawal -- Holistic
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Diet and Substance Abuse Recovery
- Pacific Northwest Relapse Prevention Specialists: Post Acute Withdrawal Nutrition
- Medline Plus: Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
- Dr. Lawrence Wilson: Alcoholism
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Alcoholism