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Beating Addiction Cravings With Nutrition
by Eric Powers

As the chef at The Foundry and someone who has overcome addiction to celebrate four years of sobriety, I have seen why nutrition is such an important topic for those in recovery. When in the throes of addiction, we usually don’t care about the negative effects our substance abuse has on the mind and body. My intention is to help educate, inform, and explore how we can improve our lives through nutrition in recovery.



The first topic to address is one everyone is familiar with: cravings. Whether it be for chocolate, nicotine, salty snacks or alcohol we all have experienced cravings in our lives. The difficulty about handling these cravings in sobriety is that we as addicts need instant gratification. Cravings are a signal from your body telling you that it needs something, and your brain recognizes these needs in the way you usually fulfill them. If you always eat candy bars, when you experience a sugar craving your brain will think of candy bars first. If you start satisfying that sugar craving a banana or green smoothie, your brain will begin craving these healthier options when your blood sugar drops. This is part of a lifestyle change. The goal is to live healthier and as your brain chemistry changes, your health will change as well.



Another option is to practice moderation and upgrade your favorite snacks to healthier options. Going back to our candy bar example, instead of eating processed refined sugars, corn syrup and chemicals, snack on a few bites of fair trade organic dark chocolate for a “healthier” treat. Chocolate is still chocolate, so if you can opt for fresh fruit instead, that would be even better. You don’t need to starve yourself of your favorite snacks, just try to find the most natural, whole food version of what you are craving and maintain portion control. This will help with satiation and give your body the nutrients it needs. If you can learn how to make the snacks you prefer, even better. Not only will you impress your friends, you’ll learn in the process.



If your cabinets are filled with cookies and chips, this can seem overwhelming. To help you, I have provided a food craving roadmap to help you understand what your body is actually asking for during a craving.



If you crave this… What you really need is… And here are healthy foods that have it:
Chocolate Magnesium Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
Sweets Chromium Broccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, calves’ liver, chicken
Carbon Fresh fruits
Phosphorus Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains
Sulfur Cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage
Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
Bread, toast Nitrogen High protein foods: fish, meat, nuts, beans
Oily snacks, fatty foods Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Coffee or tea Phosphorous Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes
Sulfur Egg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables
NaCl (salt) Sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad)
Iron Meat, fish and poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
Alcohol, recreational drugs Protein Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, nuts
Avenin Granola, oatmeal
Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Glutamine Supplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice
Potassium Sun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens
Chewing ice Iron Meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
Burned food Carbon Fresh fruits
Soda and other carbonated drinks Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Salty foods Chloride Raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt
Acid foods Magnesium Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
Preference for liquids rather than solids Water Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
Preference for solids rather than liquids Water You have been so dehydrated for so long that you have lost your thirst. Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
Cool Drinks Manganes Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
Pre-menstrual cravings Zinc Red meats (especially organ meats), seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables
General overeating Silicon Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green, red fruits and vegetables
Lack of appetite Vitamin B1 Nuts, seeds, beans, liver and other organ meats
Vitamin B3 Tuna, halibut, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seeds and legumes
Manganese Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
Chloride Raw goat milk, unrefined sea salt
Tobacco Silicon Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables


At The Foundry, we incorporate all of this information into our meal planning and nutrition education at our residential treatment center in Colorado. It’s important to us that we help you as much as possible on your recovery journey, and for some that can include cooking lessons and being introduced to new foods. As they say, if you teach a man to fish...



Hopefully this blog has helped to answer any questions you had in regards to what cravings mean and what healthy options are in terms of satisfying them. Remember to practice self-control, and moderation and you will be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.



-Eric Powers, executive chef at The Foundry, a rehab and substance abuse center in Colorado, providing an education in sustainable and practical lifestyle changes through whole food eating. The Foundry focuses on haute mountain cuisine for residents; forging connections with local farmers and ranchers throughout the abundant Yampa Valley.




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