Lifestyle Medicine, Healthy Diet and Substance Abuse

How a healthy diet helps drug and alcohol addiction

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), food is medicinal. It is all about nourishing your body, mind and spirit by building ‘jing’. This is a force which powers your physical, emotional and even spiritual life. Jing is one of the ‘three treasures’ of TCM and the idea is to live in a way that enables you to store as much chi (another treasure) and jing as possible to ensure a life of vitality and health rather than a decline into weakness and illness.

Medicinal food plays a critical role in a successful drug or alcohol recovery program. Diet can enhance your chi-flow and positive feelings or contribute to chi-stagnation and negative emotions which, in turn, increases the likelihood of relapse. Your diet can encourage emotional stability, support feelings of empowerment and strength and assist in the ability to access non-ordinary states of consciousness without the use of substances.

The drug and alcohol addiction recovery diet – the foods that help you quit

The recovery diet draws upon the philosophy underpinning the Chinese culinary arts. It is about the power of the five elements and chi. This has no correlation in the West where food is treated as data. Items are assigned a nutritional value and specific serves of food groups are supposed to be consumed each day. This is purely theoretical. The West does not understand the relationship between food and physical health (otherwise hospital food wouldn’t be the worst thing you can eat if you are unwell) and has no concept of a connection between food and emotional and spiritual health.

 The recovery diet is based on the connection between food and emotional and spiritual health. The intent is to be equally medicinal and delicious. In Chinese medicine cooking is about working with the element of ‘fire’, it puts jing into the body. Jing is the force which powers physical, emotional and spiritual life. This is why all meals must be cooked, and ideally slow-cooked like congees or stews or soups.

Avoid raw foods wherever possible in the recovery diet, these aggravate organ imbalances resulting from the prior hyper-stimulation via substances, and raw foods also require more energy to digest. Drug users are already chi deficient and nutrient depleted, they can’t afford to waste energy. The recovery diet conserves and builds energy – raw foods are not valuable in this context as they will contribute to obsession and depression. For example vegans can become obsessed about being vegan.

The best breakfast to avoid cravings and relapse

Oat porridge is the ideal breakfast. Oats benefit ‘Earth’ energies, which contribute to feelings of strength, support and focus. Oats have the ability to stabilise a person emotionally and physically. A proper oat porridge fuels a productive morning. And the subsequent program activities will be of more benefit to the client. Oats also prevents hunger (interpreted as cravings by drug users) arising two hours after breakfast.

Add black sesame seeds or poppy seeds (I use 3 tablespoons of black sesame seeds and 4 tablespoons of poppy seeds per serve) for the essential fatty acids and minerals. Black sesame seeds are great for iron intake as well, but they are also potent jing builders.

Use almond milk or other nut milks and always add protein powder. Some protein powders can be acidic which can impact on the kidneys and create irritation and edginess. Pea protein works well because it’s alkaline, and it supports the feeling of being grounded and calm. Slow cook porridge (with the lid on) for 45mins to 60mins. This is essential to enable optimum digestion and nutrient and chi delivery.

What to eat to help prevent a relapse

The aim is simplicity in basic ingredients, but depth of flavour from spices. The ‘muesli’ approach – basically a random collection of multiple items including fruits, nuts and grains  – is not recommended. It does not support ‘Earth’ energies, it may, in fact, disrupt organ functions. Quinoa and other food types, now popular and assumed to be ‘healthy’ may be for the ‘normal’ population, but not for ex-addicts in recovery.

Drug recovery is a specialised area, and it requires a specialised approach in every single aspect. If you can’t tolerate oats, try buckwheat pancakes or pancakes made from superfood flours as a good alternative (you might need a nutritious snack at morning tea).

Avoid: cold foods, raw foods, raw ingredients, fruit or vegetable juices, sugar, processed cereals and bread.

The best lunch to prevent cravings and relapse

A warm cooked lunch continues to build on the nourishment of the breakfast porridge. Lunch needs to be protein (lamb, organic beef or fish), organic vegetables (colours ranging from green to red) and rice.

An ideal lunch is to slow cook easily digestible meat (lamb or beef mince), with onions and spices such as dill (slow cooking meat in juice made up of spices and onions builds chi). Add stir fry vegetables, 75% greens e.g. broccoli or green beans, 25% orange or red e.g. capsicum, tomatoes, pumpkin. Serve with fragrant steamed rice. This is easier to digest than brown rice especially in terms of the weak digestive energies arising from drug abuse.

 Delicious and healthy vegetable side dishes

  • Broccoli cooked in coconut milk with roasted sesame seeds, ginger and cumin
  • Silverbeet cooked in oat milk with dill, Himalayan rock salt. Once cooked thickened with unhulled tahini.
  • Pumpkin diced and roasted with poppy seeds, cooked in almond milk to create a mash, add nutmeg and cloves.
  • Green beans, briefly fried in olive oil, thyme, rock salt, then add rice vinegar and rice milk to cook it in, add diced pumpkin to thicken.
  • Wok fry sliced zucchini, finely chopped cabbage and grated carrot in olive oil, add lemon juice and rice milk, nutmeg, cloves and cook a further few minutes until vegetables blend.
  • Red cabbage and apples cooked in rice vinegar and rice milk and olive oil.
  • Brussels sprouts, cooked in coconut milk, thyme and black sesame seeds, cloves and nutmeg.

*Avoid: potatoes, sandwiches, cold foods, salads and raw foods

The best dinner to prevent cravings and relapse

Soup, fish and warm toasted sourdough bread is my recommendation for a chi-building evening meal. Vegetable soups are great, and pumpkin soup in particular relaxes and nurtures, it assists in preparation for a good night’s sleep. A small serve of oily fish such as sardines is also good to help settle the mind. Best time to consume bread (non-wheat) is in the evenings with dinner.

What is a healthy snack

Ex-users have impaired organ functionality. It is common to experience sudden drops in blood sugar, often around 1.5 to 2 hours after eating. For example after breakfast at 8am, by 10am you may suddenly feel weak and shaky. Immediately rectify this with delicious baked snacks, health cookies, or apples and walnuts, or banana or almonds (combine fruit with nuts).

Benefits of green tea

Green tea is a chi nurturer. It does have stimulating properties but it is balanced in yin and yang and accordingly has beneficial properties such as antioxidation. It also enhances clarity of thought and vision (green tea is the preferred beverage of Tai-chi masters). Have three to five cups between 9am and 3pm. Make a pot in the morning at breakfast and have available on demand throughout the day.

Nutritional supplements eliminate withdrawal symptoms

Addiction is really an inability to stop relapsing. People relapse because guilt, anxiety, paranoia, emotional reactivity, depression, confusion, insomnia, fear and shame, on top of physical aches and pain, make life without drugs or alcohol unbearable. If no one had these symptoms, there would be no addiction. You can eliminate all these symptoms quickly and efficiently through high-doses of top quality nutritional and dietary supplements.

Nutritional supplements can eliminate withdrawal symptoms and build and maintain optimum health. Supplements are a critical component of addiction rehab treatments as it is one of the quickest and easiest ways to immediately change the way you feel.

The side-effects of drug use such as lethargy, depression, emptiness, confusion, demotivation and negativity, create cravings and drive people to relapse. High-quality nutritional supplements can immediately alleviate these symptoms and lift your mood.

Nutritional supplements can stop drug cravings

Drug use depletes your internal resources and nutritional supplements are concentrated foods, they are the secret to health and happiness for anyone. If you have had extended use of the ATS (amphetamine type stimulant drugs) nutritional supplementation is necessary to regain normal physiological and emotional function, and critical if you want to feel really engaged with life again.

Drugs are a concentrated substance that deliver instant results and that functionality needs to be matched in post-drug supplementation. The products we use are based on Chinese medicine, they are effective and, in conjunction with other program components, will accelerate your recovery beyond belief. If you don’t take professional effective nutritional supplements you will battle cravings and be much more likely to relapse.

Nutritional supplements can cure addiction

When you do a line of coke or smoke a meth pipe and suddenly, like magic, are energised and raring to go, it’s not magic and it’s not the drug, it’s what the drug has activated which, in Chinese medicine, is  your life force (we call this jing). The more drugs you do, the more you chew through your jing, which is why you keep needing more drugs to get the same result, why the quality of the highs always declines, and why all your symptoms slowly get worse.

High-quality nutritional supplements are the fastest and most effective way to rebuild. Many of our clients find that their mental health issues disappear with vitamin therapy. Supplements are concentrated foods, they replenish your life force, and they are the secret to health and happiness for everyone.

How to keep your resolution to quit drugs

Do you want to quit some habit or addiction but can’t because you’re always feeling demotivated and lethargic? Movement is the answer. Start moving and you will build motivation and willpower.

The best time to do this is first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up. It’s also the hardest time because our emotions are closest to the surface when we wake-up.

The secret is to stay out of your head and immediately get into physical movement. Especially if it’s a drug addiction you want to quit, because excessive drug use seriously increases negativity and lethargy.

A lot of relapses are triggered in the morning because people lie in bed trapped in negativity and depression. Don’t let this be your trigger for relapse – get up and into exercise, it will change your life.

Six things to do to help break drug addiction:

  • Never lie in bed and think when you wake up. This is critical. Don’t stress about the day ahead, or re-live the dramas and stresses of the day before, these no longer exist.
  • Drink some water and stretch, breathe, do yoga or tai chi, go to the gym, go for a walk, ride or swim, initially it doesn’t matter what it is you just need to move.
  • Next get a routine in place, make it a new habit to get up at a certain time to exercise every day.
  • Try ‘tapping’ as soon as you wake. Here’s my video showing ‘tapping’ an easy technique to help get your energy moving
  • Get remedial massage or acupuncture. These treatments get chi flowing so you immediately feel more motivated and optimistic.
  • Take high-quality nutritional supplements, these will give you a boost of energy and make it easier to move. Nutrient saturation improves organ function and alleviates lots of symptoms so motivation improves.

I don’t like the word ‘sobriety’, it sounds dull and lifeless. If that’s all you have to look forward to its no wonder people relapse. I reckon we should use ‘extraordinary’ as the state we want to achieve after quitting drugs or alcohol. I don’t like the use of ‘clean’ – meaning being off drugs – either. Saying you are ‘clean’ suggests that what you did before was unclean, but this is yet another outdated concept. You may have had some profound life-altering experiences on drugs and this is an asset if you use those experiences as a template for something you want to achieve again without drugs.

Read more


Depression, addiction and nutritional supplements

Depression is a common side-effect of addiction and it contributes to relapse. People quit drugs and then instead of ‘returning to normal’ they find themselves feeling empty and depressed.

This happened to me and it brought me close to suicide. If only I’d known then what I do now about the power of nutraceuticals – of Chinese herbs and nutritional supplements. See, nutrient depletion is a major contributor to depression and addicts and alcoholics are nutrient deprived. If you are an addict, drugs create the impression that all your needs have been met. This is a major attraction of getting high.

Read more

Mainstream recovery is based on talk. First you have to talk yourself out of taking drugs (“no drugs today, no drugs today”), and then talk endlessly through the relationship dramas, sexual dysfunction, depression, psychosis, panic and anxiety that may arise afterwards, not to mention the endless probing into what went wrong.

Read more