Creating a Healthy Meal Plan in Recovery

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When you are in rehab, you are on a strict schedule that involves multiple group sessions, individual therapy, three nutritious meals, a snack, exercise, and more. This daily routine is critical to your recovery because it moves you forward each day by having you take part in things that help you heal along the way. Leaving rehab can therefore be quite intimidating because you are suddenly leaving a structured environment and entering back into a world to which there is no structure. This means that you have to create your own structure and find a routine that works for you. An important part of your daily routine should be a meal plan that includes healthy foods from all five food groups. Having a meal plan for each week in recovery can take the pressure off you and ensure that you are eating healthy to support your recovery outside of rehab. Here are some tips for creating the perfect meal plan for your recovery!

The Importance of Eating Healthy

Food can have an important impact on your body and mind. It actually plays a critical role in your recovery because eating the right foods can help heal your body from the inside-out. This is especially important because your body takes a lot of damage as a result of drug or alcohol addiction. It is common for addicts to not eat properly, causing their bodies to lose a lot of necessary vitamins, nutrients, and energy. A poor diet can also lead to irregular eating habits, which leads to other negative consequences in other areas of your life, such as sleeping problems, long term health problems, dehydration, and damage to internal organs. When you begin eating healthy in addiction recovery, your body begins to heal slowly but surely. Over time you will notice how you feel better and how your health is improving over time. 

What Foods Should Be Included

When creating your meal plan, you want to make sure you are including the proper foods that will be conducive to your healing. You should be choosing foods from the five food groups to maintain a balanced diet. These groups include fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and proteins. You should try to avoid processed foods and instead supplement your diet with whole foods. However, there are specific foods to include that have multiple benefits. Including these foods in your diet will surely show that you can improve your physical and mental health, giving you the proper energy and nutrients needed to maintain your recovery.


Foods that are full of antioxidants help heal internal organs that were damaged from drug and alcohol addiction. These foods promote internal healing, reversing the effects that were damaging the body. Foods with lots of antioxidants include onions, pecans, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kale, leaks, and artichokes.

GABA Neurotransmitters

GABA-rich foods will help you to feel more relaxed and keep you calmer. This is especially helpful in recovery because stress is a common relapse trigger. Eating these foods can promote less stress in your mind to help you keep your anxiety under control. Foods that are rich in GABA include tomatoes, beans, kefir, peas, mushrooms, spinach, lentils, brown rice, chestnuts, and cruciferous vegetables. 


Tyrosine is an amino acid that promotes dopamine within the brain. Eating foods with tyrosine can increase your dopamine levels, which are most likely lower due to the effects of addiction on the brain. Increased dopamine will lead to improved mood, more motivation, and higher energy. Foods that include tyrosine that should be included in your daily diet are soybeans, lamb, beef, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, bananas, cheese, sunflower seeds, and whole grains. 


Tryptophan is another amino acid that helps create serotonin. This is crucial to recovery because it plays a big part in overall brain function. Tryptophan cannot be made naturally and must be gotten from a person’s diet. Eating foods that are rich in tryptophan can improve your sleep, mood, and more. Foods to include in your diet for tryptophan are pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, peanuts, oat bran, lentils, cheese, and milk. 


Foods with L-Glutamine help repair the intestinal wall when consumed. L-Glutamine also helps heal damaged tissue in the body, especially tissue within the digestive tract. It can also improve your immune system, fighting against the effects of illness and even stress. It also reduces a person’s cravings for sugar, which is good for recovery because sugar can cause anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. Foods rich with L-Glutamine include papaya, chicken, beef, fish, eggs, cabbage, parsley, celery, kale, spinach, beans, carrots, and some fermented foods. 

Creating Your Meal Plan

Creating a meal plan is a lot more simple than you think. Start by choosing how many meals you need to prepare per day. You also need to decide how many days you want to prepare for. For beginners, it is recommended to plan smaller meals over three days. You can build up from there. Then, decide what foods you want to include, especially those from the categories above. Then, add your serving sizes, ensuring they are well-balanced. Prepping will become easier over time, and writing things down is recommended to start out! 

A healthy diet is critical for helping a recovering addict maintain their sobriety. This is because a healthy diet has multiple benefits, not just for addiction, but for life in general. For addiction recovery, a healthy diet can help heal your body from the damage caused by drugs or alcohol. For life in general, a proper diet can give you more energy and boost your mood. Including foods from the five food groups and ensuring you are having the proper vitamins and nutrients in your diet will make a world of difference in your life. Once you understand what foods should be included, you can begin to create your meal plan. This can be tricky if you are a beginner, but luckily, at Northstar Transitions, we can help you meal prep like a pro. A healthy diet is necessary for a successful recovery, and we can help you achieve this. Call us today at (303) 558-6400.