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Day 42 - No More “Cheat Meals”
A lot of the difficulty people run into with adopting dietary changes involves the vocabulary we use. A good example of this involves the phrase “cheat meals” or “cheat day.” It’s been our observation that this type of language and ideology usually doesn’t translate well to a life of recovery. ‘Cheating’ usually signifies that we’ve been trying to adhere to a specific diet, and it’s our strong recommendation not to be “on a diet.” The whole focus of Reaction Recovery is to slowly develop and introduce lifestyle changes that are both practical and sustainable. By definition, this rules out virtually all traditional diets. We have many decades of data and research to suggest that this approach doesn’t work.
Remove all negative language from your food vocabulary, and instead replace it with positive language that is compassionate and supportive of your recovery journey!
Day 41 - HYDRATION
Chronic alcohol consumption is not only dehydrating in itself, but often we lose the habit of drinking regular hydrating beverages.
Now that alcohol has been eliminated (or significantly reduced), aim to increase your water intake to 6-8 glasses per day. This means you will urinate a minimum of about 6-8 times per day. If you are urinating 3 or 4 times per day, you are not drinking enough water, which can lead to a host of adverse health-related conditions.
If you eat tons of fruits and vegetables, you might need a little less water, and if you don’t, you probably even need more. Everyone is different. When in doubt, the color of the urine doesn’t lie! The clearer the urine, the better. Substitute water for other beverages whenever you can. If drinking water consistently is new to you, add fresh lemon, lime, cucumber, mint, or strawberries to your water for a delicious natural flavor.
Day 40 - YOU ARE RESILIENT
Choosing to reduce or eliminate alcohol from your life can be considered an act of resilience. You have acknowledged the difficulties it’s creating and are choosing to do something about it.
Resilience describes psychological toughness, or the ability to successfully cope with misfortune and change. Resilient people have found ways to face stress and regulate emotions.
You’ve sought to identify triggers, make sense of their origins, learn how to exercise self-compassion, and make increasingly wise choices.
You can simultaneously mourn the loss of alcohol from your life, confront your problems, and face your fears – taking time to pause and rest when needed. You’re learning how to express your feelings and go after your dreams, despite your doubt!
How can you build more resilience today?
Day 39 - Food is a Direct Connection to LIFE
Many people get sober and develop a newfound appreciation for the life-force of nature – after all we are spiritual beings. Unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption often contributes to disconnecting us from that Source.
Eating represents our most profound interaction with nature on a daily basis. You can think of your food choices as either bringing you closer or further away from nature!
Day 38 - Variety is the Spice of LIFE
Much like your life itself, your nutrition is optimized when the variety is enhanced! We live in a time where it shouldn’t be too difficult to expose ourselves to a wide range of foods so take advantage of it! Too often we’ll fall into a pattern or eating the same foods over and over. Not only can this increase the likelihood of becoming sensitive to certain food additives or ingredients, we’re not taking advantage of other nutrients that can improve our mood and overall quality of life.
Here’s a practice: commit to eating one new food each week that you haven’t eaten in the past month. See what happens!
Day 31 - Developing the courage to speak
Over the course of a long drinking history, a lot of slowly lost the ability to speak up for ourselves.
We lost our agency and continued to slip deeper into the alcohol abyss to drown out the feelings.
When we begin living a life of sobriety, it takes time to find our voice. Sometimes we have strong convictions but are afraid to share them because they are not in sync with the popular ideas of the time, and we want to be accepted by our peers. But as soon as one person is willing to speak up against the groupthink, others become empowered to speak their truth as well.
One person’s courage has the potential to liberate countless others. How can you speak up today?
Day 32 - Do you live a food double-life
Feelings of guilt and shame can invade more areas of your life than just alcohol consumption. Often times food guilt goes hand-in-hand with alcohol guilt.
Do you eat differently when you’re alone compared to when you’re around others? Do you hide certain foods when people come over? Imagine for a moment how liberating it could be to be able to eat comfortably in any setting?
Food transparency is about having no secrets around food. You can think of it as an “open fridge” policy that helps to reduce unnecessary conflict. Moving towards transparency in this area of your life can help you move towards transparency in other areas of your life.
Day 33 - FIBER
Of all the nutrients lacking in the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet), fiber may be the most important. Dietary fiber is the direct food supply for the microbiome that comprises our gastrointestinal tract. We now understand the important role the gut plays in our physical and mental health, therefore keeping this system properly fed must be a priority.
Dietary fiber also aids in the balance of cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure. It can’t be overlooked. If your diet has undersupplied fiber for a long period of time, you may experience some GI sensitivity as you begin reintroducing it. Start low and go slow! Your body will quickly acclimate to the nourishment, and symptoms of gas and bloating will stabilize!
Day 34 - BODY IMAGE
Issues with body image are extremely common in today’s culture, and folks with histories of behavioral or substance addiction seem to be at an even higher risk of struggling with this. Being uncomfortable with our own body has the ability to disrupt our engagement in everyday activities, relationships, and overall quality of life.
It’s not uncommon to end an alcohol addiction and suddenly notice a renewed interest or obsession with the physical body. Have a little compassion for yourself as you navigate these waters. Speak openly about it with your coach, therapist, or mentor. These concerns can significantly deplete mental energy and focused attention that could be much better served elsewhere.
Appreciating the functional and joyful aspects of your body can help to take the focus off your body image.
Day 35 - HIGHLY PALATABLE FOODS
There’s no question that we’re living in a time where making regular, healthy food choices feels like a challenge.
Chronic exposure to highly palatable food, or food with lots of additional ingredients, does have the power to change our brains and condition us to seek more, often times without us even realizing it. Specifically, foods intentionally fortified with sugar, salt, and saturated fat compete with our ability to resist.
Not everyone seeks out highly palatable foods, but folks with a history of addiction are more likely than others to find this kind of food more reinforcing, and are thus driven to seek and consume it, despite negative consequences. It’s helpful to acknowledge our own relationship with the hyper-palatable foods.
Early recovery is not a time to make drastic lifestyle changes, but you might want to consider taking a break from these foods for just one week and observe changes in cravings or mood. This little exercise might provide you with valuable data about your own relationship with food!
Day 36 - Nutrition Affects Mental Health
Malnourishment stemming from years of poor eating habits can create clinical signs and symptoms that mimic psychiatric disorders.
For example, there are currently people taking psychiatric medications who are actually just deficient in nutrients such as B vitamins, iron, vitamin D, and many others. Nutritional deficiencies along with medical conditions should always be addressed with a diagnosis of any mood, thought, or depressive disorder, as it could be a core component of the underlying cause. The ultimate goal is to create a sustainable style of eating that negates the need for supplements, but early on in the recovery process, supplementation can work wonders!
The problem of misdiagnosis is a significant one. One might find themselves moving from medication to medication, chasing symptoms and correcting for side effects when the underlying discomfort may have been nutritionally related. Don’t let this happen to you!
Let us begin to eat to improve our mental health so we can focus on improving our other dimensions of health. It can start in the kitchen 😊
Day 37 - How are you sleeping?
Alcohol and other drugs can have a significant effect on sleep quality.
When we stop drinking, it often takes considerable time to establish normalized sleep patterns. Different people need different amounts of sleep. Get to know your ideal number of hours, and sleep only as much as you need.
Practice good sleep hygiene by getting up at the same time each day, seven days per week! Make sure the bedroom is comfortable and free from light and noise. Don’t go to bed hungry and try to avoid excess liquids in the evening to prevent needing to urinate in the middle of the night. Wait until you pee before getting into bed.
Cut down on caffeine products, and don’t take your problems to bed. Consider a nightly prayer and meditation practice to prioritize and this area of your routine!