When detoxing, hydration is key, but certain food groups also have benefits when it comes to helping with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and detoxification.

Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are different for everyone and can last anywhere from a few days to more than a week. During this period, when your body is adjusting and healing, it is important to have a healthy diet and nutrition to support you in your new alcohol-free lifestyle.

Eating may be the last thing you’ll want to think about when it comes to alcohol detox, but it’s an important part of the process. It may be difficult to eat any food at all during the initial stages of your detox. As your symptoms improve, however, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that will help replenish alcohol-related vitamin deficienciesand support your health and strength.

Here are five tips in mind while planning your alcohol detox.

See Also: How to cleanse your liver from alcohol

1. Focus on Hydration

When detoxing, you’ll likely be told that water is first and foremost in importance. Hydration is important in general, but especially when withdrawing from alcohol, which itself is dehydrating. Alcohol withdrawal often induces symptoms like:

  • Dehydration
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

All of these symptoms can worsen if you are not getting enough water. Water is important for hydration, and you can easily lose too much water through vomiting and diarrhea.

2. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are important because they contain high amounts of fiber, as well as folate and Vitamin A, which are often deficient if you drink heavily.

Fruits in particular are a healthy sweet alternative to sugary foods. People withdrawing or detoxing from substances including alcohol may often crave sweets. Experts think this may in part be because sugary foods stimulate similar brain processes as drugs. While you are in recovery, it is important to not substitute one addiction for another. For this reason, many experts recommend against sugary foods while you are in detox.

Related Topics: 
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3. Protein

Protein deficiency is common in those who struggle with drinking. However, protein is important as it is a major nutrient and is the building block of your muscles. Proteins like meats, poultry, fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts and seeds are rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium, all of which are common alcohol-related deficiencies. Making sure to eat protein during your detox and recovery can help to replete your stores of these important nutrients.

4. Whole Grains

Carbohydrates are vital for recovery, as they provide fiber and energy, which the detoxer may be lacking. Although refined grains like white bread also offer carbohydrates for energy, they are not as healthy an option compared with whole-grain alternatives.

Whole, unprocessed grains contain more fiber as well as B vitamins, which are a common deficiency in alcohol abuse. Examples of whole grains include quinoa, brown rice and non-instant oatmeal.

5. Eat Soups and Liquids During the Initial Detox

Heavy meals can be difficult to keep down when you are in detox, especially if you have withdrawal symptoms like nausea or vomiting. Instead, focus on consuming soups and other liquids to replenish nutrients and keep yourself hydrated. You can also drink decaffeinated teas and fruit or vegetable juices.

Clear liquids in particular do not put as much of a strain on your stomach and intestines as regular food, all while giving you needed hydration for a few days while your body adjusts to being alcohol-free.

Implement a Balanced Diet

A well-balanced diet is important to build up your vitamin and nutrient stores and keep you healthy during the recovery process. A healthy, balanced diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein like fish and poultry, whole grains, nuts, beans and low-fat dairy. Fish, nuts and vegetable oils can also support health by adding important fatty acids into the diet.

As you evaluate treatment programs to assist in your alcohol detox and recovery, it’s important to look for a program that includes nutritional assistance and behavioral change as part of the program. This will help support your recovery and ease your transition to a newly sober life.

If you are ready to begin a life without alcohol, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment programs, including alcohol detox and recovery plans that can work well for your situation.

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Editor – Nicole LaNeve
Nicole leads a team of passionate, experienced writers, editors and other contributors to create and share accurate, trustworthy information about drug and alcohol addiction, treatment and recovery for The Recovery Village and all Advanced Recovery Systems sites. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Manag[…]e in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treat[…]improvement protocol.” 2015. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Jeynes, Kendall D.; Gibson, E. Leigh. “The importance of nutrition in aiding re[…] disorders: a review.” October 2017. Accessed November 15, 2020.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Why is it important to make lean or low-[…]Protein Foods Group?” n.d. Accessed November 15, 2020.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Why is it important to eat grains, especially whole grains?” n.d. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Cedars-Sinai. “Clear Liquid Diet.” n.d. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.