For a good portion of my youth, when I took a look at myself in the mirror, I wasn’t happy with the person staring back. When puberty hit me, I started feeling even more insecure about my physical appearance. I wasn’t necessarily bad-looking, I just lacked self confidence.
I started using drugs and alcohol as a way to fit in and to become a more outgoing person. Unfortunately, these substances ended up having the opposite effect. The more I consumed, the more weight I put on. This only made my self-esteem problems worse. Substance abuse, combined with a series of mental health issues, eventually turned into a vicious cycle in which I would get drunk or high to avoid certain negative feelings. It didn’t take long for me to become an addict.
At the age of 23, I finally entered an alcohol detoxification program. When I checked in, I was overweight and had several serious health problems, like a slow liver and a weak respiratory system. My confidence was rock-bottom. I wasn’t a big fan of the person I had become. However, drug rehab was a place where I started making better decisions for both my physical and mental health, and, as a result, my self-esteem got better over time.
Something I learned during addiction recovery that has helped me immensely over the years are the many benefits of superfoods.
Superfoods are foods that are nutritionally dense and great for your health. Eating a diet based on superfoods helped me dramatically during my weight loss process, improved my mental health, made me more energetic, and transformed me into an overall healthier person. Today, I would love to share with you 5 amazing superfoods that help with addiction recovery and their respective health benefits.
Quinoa is a small protein packed seed that is native to South America. It became universally popular about five years ago. According to experts, quinoa is one of the only plants that contains a “complete protein”, meaning that it provides all the essential amino acids our body needs. Quinoa is also gluten-free and contains more healthy compounds than most foods, which means it is a great substitute for free grains like rice and corn if you’re trying to add fiber and nutrients to your diet.
These days, you can usually find quinoa in snack bars and in other processed products, but I personally prefer to eat it as a whole food, since it can lose many of its nutrients when processed. I usually eat it at lunch or dinner, and I like to prepare it with sautéed vegetables or lean meat.
Thanks to their healthy fat and fiber content, flax seeds are perfect for weight loss. They improve your digestion and also boost your metabolism. Flaxseeds contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids along with lignans, an antioxidant substance that helps promote hormonal balance. Some preliminary studies suggest that these substances found in flax seeds can help fight heart disease, several types of cancer and diabetes.
Flax seeds can be added to drinks such as smoothies (grounded, 1-3 tablespoons) without affecting their flavor. You can also add them to baked muffins, bread and cookies, or you can mix it with water and use it as an egg substitute in vegan recipes. They are a great natural tool in helping people recover from addiction.
Green tea might not technically be considered a food, but if you take into account the numerous health benefits, it absolutely deserves a spot among our superfood list. Green tea has even been used in traditional Asian medicine for centuries, and with good reason.
Green tea is not only completely calorie-free, but it also an excellent source of antioxidants. Research suggests that it can even help to prevent and fight several types of cancer. It is also associated with a lower risk of stroke, lower cholesterol, and fighting inflammatory skin diseases.
Blueberries are perhaps the perfect fruit for addiction recovery. They are loaded with healthy antioxidants, high in Vitamin C and K, and are absolutely delicious to eat! You can put them in smoothies, eat them in salads, add them to yogurt, or put some directly into a bowl for a quick healthy snack.
I personally add blueberries to my protein smoothies before a workout every day. It adds some natural sweetness to my shakes that fuels my workouts and keeps me feeling great.
Although this luscious fruit is rarely included in top superfoods lists, it definitely deserves a place in this one. Not only because I love the taste, but also because of its many scientifically backed reasons:
Grapefruit is high in vitamin C, which is great for maintaining healthy skin. It also contains large amounts of antioxidants, which helps protect the body’s cells from damage. Finally, the grapefruit’s high fiber count promotes intestinal health.
Grapefruit has been been known to help with weight loss: a study with 91 obese patients showed that those who consumed grapefruit on a regular basis lost significantly more weight than those who consumed a placebo.
This one is the only animal-based food on my top 5 superfood list. For the carnivores out there reading this, you don’t have to become a vegetarian in order to have a superfood rich diet! There are lots of animal-based superfoods, such as grass-fed beef and eggs, but today I want to talk about wild salmon.
You’ve probably already heard about salmon’s high omega 3 fatty acids content. These fatty acids contribute to healthy brain and heart functions and good overall health. They can also help protect against some kinds of cancer and many chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s, asthma, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure.
Salmon doesn’t just provide omega 3 fatty acids, it is also a great source of lean protein and vitamins & minerals like potassium, selenium and vitamin B12.
Nine years after getting out of rehab, enjoying a healthy lifestyle, exercising, and eating a superfood-based diet, I can finally say that when I look in the mirror I am proud of what I see. I currently have a healthy weight, I have healthy looking skin, I have sufficient energy to take on everyday challenges, and I am known among my friends and colleagues for my positive attitude. Even though this doesn’t only depend on my diet, I know that my superfood rich diet does make a big difference.
Making some subtle changes to what you eat daily can be exactly what you need to start losing weight and becoming a healthier person. Adding these 5 superfoods to your diet is a great way to start.
Do you have any questions about which superfoods are best for your health? What is your personal favorite superfood? Please leave us a comment below and share your thoughts!