I have been in recovery since 2004, and it was not until about 3 years ago that I realized how much of what I ate impacted my mood. It also affected my ability to think clearly as well as the strength and endurance of my physical body. It became even more noticeable after attending NET training. I also began working with a chiropractor that practiced kinesiology. I have not always been happy with all the diet changes I have had to make and fasting I have done the past few years, but I have seen the results and feel much better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It took me over 8 years in my recovery to make the connection between what I ate and my mood, which also triggered my intimacy anorexia and acting out sobriety. In recovery, we often talk about avoiding H.A.L.T., being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Not eating well will affect all of these area as well as your energy level, attitude and ability to think clearly. If my experience can save you time and unnecessary pain in your recovery, this will be well worth the read.
- Alcohol Consumption – If you are an alcoholic, you will want to avoid any alcohol consumption, as you already know how it affects you. If you are not an alcoholic and believe you can “just have a few” when you want, you might want to reconsider. I have noticed a negative correlation with my clients who struggle with sex addiction and intimacy anorexia when they drink. I have seen an increase in their anorexic behaviors and reoccurrence in sexually acting out. However, I am not an expert on any of the following and only write out of my own personal experience, as many of my readers will know more about the following than I do, so please comment and add to this discussion.
- Caffeine – This is the number one addiction in America. I too admit that I enjoy my cup of coffee. This is also the most socially acceptable addiction. However, just because it’s acceptable, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Caffeine is a stimulant and affects your heart rate, blood pressure, nervous system as well as your sleep in positive and negative ways. Try to fast from coffee for a week or two and see how you feel. Can you control it, or does it control you?
- Carbs and Gluten – In the last few years, these two items have received a really bad reputation. New research is now showing the effects of GMOs when it is consumed, such as weight gain, obesity, cancer, etc. Eating gluten-free can be very challenging. There are products that have been made by grains that have not been genetically modified and can be found online and in health food stores.
- Fast Food (Additives and Preservatives) – In this day and age, it is probably never a good idea to eat fast food; but sometimes, you may not have any other option. Everything is fine in moderation. I would not select fast food for every meal, but I wouldn’t beat myself up for eating fast food on occasion. These days, there are many healthy alternatives in fast food restaurants. Removing additives and preservatives from one’s diet has shown significant improvement in the behavior problems of children.
- Nicotine – I’m not a smoker, but my father was. I think the second-hand smoke in the confinement of the car as a child nearly killed me. Nicotine is perhaps the most addictive substance on earth. It is the only substance where you have a negative response the first time use it; and yet, you want more. Thus, nicotine is a truly addictive substance that does nothing but negatively impact your body.
- Sugar and Fructose – This is a difficult one for me, as I have been fasting from sugar as much as possible. My chiropractor believes most Americans are hypoglycemic due to all the sugar we consume. If I have ice cream, cake, soda, sports drinks or anything with large amounts of sugar, I will be napping in 20 to 60 minutes.
- Supplements – With all the processed canned and frozen foods we eat, much of the nutrients are lost. Taking supplements, such as Vitamin C, B, E, and D has helped me greatly. Magnesium has also helped. Work with a kinesiologist and complete the test to determine what nutrients your body is lacking.
- Organic Foods – Start eating organic foods. I have not accomplished this one, as it can be extremely expensive. With a family of six, it isn’t very realistic. However, prices continue to decline. Growing up on a farm, I understand how farming works. I ask my city organic eating friends if they really know what organic means to a farmer. It not only means growing without synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, but it really just means growing with natural manure that comes from cows, pigs, chickens, horses etc. (Organic=manure) Now, this is not a bad thing. It’s just the truth. My friends who farm will tell you to be careful, because not everything with the organic label is in fact organic. You might be paying a high price for a product that you think is making you feel better when really it isn’t organic at all.
- Essential Oils – For centuries, oils have been a natural way to heal the body. Americans have almost all but lost their awareness and healing power of essential oils. For decades, we have been told synthetic medicine is the only way to become and stay healthy. Drug companies have actually been making products that make the public sick. The Food and Drug Administration has approved food production methods that are known to cause cancer but line their pockets with money. Essential oils have been found to help children with ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression and other issues.
- Juicing – This is a great way to get essential fruits and vegetables in your body that are all natural. Rather than eating a large amount of food, you can drink these powerfully healing and life-giving nutrients quickly. Not all juicers are the same, so do your research.
- Kinesiology – Find a Chiropractor near you that practices Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) or kinesiology near you.
- Energy Psychology – Quantum physics has forever changed our understanding of mental health, medicine, science and the world as we understand it. Find a therapist near you who can help make the mind/body connection and start your journey of emotional, physical, mental, spiritual and relational health today. Therapist who are trained in Neuro Emotional Technique (NET), Emotional Focus Technique (EFT), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Bio-Feedback, Brain Optimization or Splankna will be able to assist you with this.
Do your own research, and see what you discover. Take the time to consider what you eat and how it is affecting your recovery and sobriety. If you are clinician, take some time to ask your clients about their diet and what can be done to change bad eating habits. As clinicians, we need to practice what we preach. Start building relationships with practitioners in your area that practice any of the above methods for your own health and well-being.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.