Eating Well in Early Recovery

eating well in recovery

Raw food diets have been all the rage recently, and for good reason.  Fruits, vegetables and nuts can provide the nutrients and antioxidants that our bodies need to detoxify.  This is even more true for those in early sobriety.  Drugs and alcohol ravage the mind and body of the user and adding raw foods into the diet of somebody in early sobriety can help to minimize the damage and jump-start the detox process.

Drug and alcohol addiction can have long-lasting and detrimental physical, mental, and spiritual consequences. Holistic detox and treatment options are steadily becoming more popular due to the increasing research on the overall benefits of incorporating healing for mind, body, and soul.  Drugs and alcohol affect human beings on many physiological levels, but this article discusses three specific organs that are affected the most: the liver, the heart, and the brain and how raw foods can benefit the healing of these organs.

The Heart


Whether a person abused alcohol, stimulants, or depressants, all drugs affect the human heart and undermine its purpose of keeping the body alive. Drug/alcohol abuse can induce fatal side effects of the heart such as: cardiovascular disease, heart attack, arrhythmia, hypertension, and even infection. The heart is vulnerable and susceptible  These heart healthy raw foods should also be added to the diet of somebody in early sobriety:

  • Leafy Green Vegetables
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Walnuts
  • Whole Grains
  • Avocados
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Almonds
  • Seeds (chai, flax, and hemp)
  • Edamame
  • Green Tea


The Liver


More damage is done to the liver than to any other organ by consistent drug and alcohol abuse, and jump starting the liver’s detoxifying process is crucial during early sobriety. The liver does for the human body what an air filter does for central air conditioning inside a house.  Have you ever seen an air filter when it has been left alone for months without being changed?  Now imagine that that is the human liver after years of drug abuse.  The liver filters out the toxins meant to harm our body, cleans our blood, and produces the bile and glycogen we need for digestion and energy storage. It also converts vitamins, minerals, and medicines into usable substances.  Without a working liver, our bodies are left defenseless.  Certain raw foods can help detoxify the liver and assist the human body in recovery during early sobriety.  Artichokes aid in the production of bile, and help our bodies digest excess fats and toxins and flush them out of the liver.  Beets are filled with beta carotene and can help our body fight against toxins and free radical formation.  Alliums such as garlic and onions boost our immune system and help the liver detoxify itself.   These other raw foods will also help restore the human liver:

  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Citrus fruits
  • Leafy Greens
  • Olive Oil
  • Turmeric
  • Walnuts
  • Whole Grains
  • Water


The Brain


Mental well-being is also integral to making it through early sobriety. Nutrition and healthy living are quintessential to creating healing for the brain. Knowledge of the benefits of specific foods can certainly aid in combating depression/anxiety. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness, biochemically derived from the amino acid tryptophan.  While detoxing from drugs and alcohol the human body produces lower than normal amounts of serotonin, and an increase amount can be beneficial to the wellbeing of a drug addict or alcoholic in early sobriety. Raw foods that contain natural tryptophan and can help increase serotonin production are pineapple, tofu, and nuts.  (For a great dish try making pina colada tofu with pineapple and coconut).

Psychology today also lists these ten raw foods as being great for mental health:

  • Carrots
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Dark leafy greens like spinach
  • Grapefruit
  • Lettuce
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fresh berries
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwifruit

Of course, treatment and medical attention is recommended for all people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and attempting sobriety. Detoxing off of drugs and alcohol can oftentimes be painful and uncomfortable. Diet and exercise can make the difference between a vain attempt to stop using drugs, and the beginning of a lifetime of sobriety.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.