Drug & Alcohol Detox Diet: Best Foods To Eat While Detoxing

Written by Abby Doty

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

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Our bodies are constantly filtering out toxins through the liver, kidneys and even our breath. This process occurs every day, removing many toxins that we are unknowingly exposed to in small amounts.

When a person begins the journey away from drug and alcohol dependency, the body undergoes a more intense detoxification process where it must adjust to the absence of the substance. Proper nutrition can be a powerful support during this time, help ease withdrawal symptoms and set the foundation for long-term recovery. 

Why Diet Is Important When Detoxing From Drugs and Alcohol

During detoxification, your body will work overtime to purge itself of toxins and readjust to functioning normally without the substance in your bloodstream. Unfortunately, substance abuse often leads to nutritional deficiencies that can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms and impede recovery. 

Replenishing your body with the right nutrients can play an important role in restoring physical health more quickly and improving mental well-being. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can support liver and kidney health. These organs are the body’s natural detoxifiers. When functioning at an optimal level, they can help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with detox, such as nausea, fatigue and mood swings.

A well-balanced diet also lays the groundwork for long-term sobriety. Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids and complex carbohydrates can help repair brain function and balance neurotransmitter levels, which are often disrupted by substance abuse. By addressing nutritional imbalances, you can experience a smoother detox process and a more stable, lasting recovery phase.

Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Nutrition

Chronic alcohol use takes a significant toll on nutrition. It can lead to an inadequate intake of vital nutrients due to poor diet and alcohol’s interference with the body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients. Here are some key nutritional deficiencies commonly seen in those with alcohol addiction:

  • Deficiency in vitamins A, B, C, D and E
  • Inadequate calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc levels
  • Compromised liver function, which is central to nutrient metabolism
  • Disturbances in blood sugar levels, which can lead to cravings and mood swings

Deficiencies in vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) can occur and are particularly impactful. Low thiamine levels can lead to dangerous and potentially permanent brain damage, and cobalamin deficiencies can lead to anemia.

Effects of Opioid Addiction on Nutrition

Opioid addiction can disrupt the digestive system, leading to a cascade of nutritional deficiencies and health issues. Here are some specific challenges:

  • Digestive issues, such as constipation or diarrhea, which can affect nutrient absorption
  • Shortages in essential vitamins and minerals caused by addiction-related dietary changes
  • Impacted gut health, affecting both overall wellness and immune function

Unlike alcohol, opioid abuse does not typically lead to deficiencies in specific nutrients. Instead, it affects the overall function of your digestive system, leading to more general nutritional problems.

Effects of Stimulant Addiction on Nutrition

The use of stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine can dramatically alter eating habits and nutrition. They can also increase your metabolism, impacting your need for nutrition. The key impacts of stimulants include:

  • Appetite suppression: This often leads to inadequate nutrient intake.
  • Dehydration: Lower water intake coupled with increased water expenditure can lead to dehydration, potentially disrupting metabolic processes.
  • Electrolyte imbalances: Dehydration and inadequate nutritional intake can cause electrolyte imbalances, potentially affecting muscle function and heart health.
  • Poor oral health: Over time, some stimulates can affect your teeth and ability to chew. This may interfere with the ability to eat a variety of foods.

Foods To Avoid When Detoxing From Alcohol and Drugs

During detox, your body undergoes significant stress. Eating the right foods is important, but avoiding unhealthy food is perhaps even more vital. Here are some things to steer clear of during detox:

  • High-sugar foods can spike blood sugar and increase cravings.
  • Caffeine may worsen anxiety and sleep disturbances.
  • Processed foods that lack nutrients can exacerbate mood swings.
  • Salty foods can affect hydration and electrolyte levels.

What To Eat While Detoxing

During the stress of detox, following a healthy diet can play a critical role in helping you recover more quickly and avoid serious health problems. While a good diet won’t eliminate the difficulties of detox, it can make the entire process easier. A supportive diet for detoxing from drugs and alcohol should include:

  • Water: Staying hydrated is essential for helping the body process toxins, preventing dehydration and maintaining optimal health.
  • Green, leafy vegetables: These are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body is often lacking after a prolonged period of substance use.
  • Whole grains: These provide sustained energy and are a good source of fiber that can aid in digestion.
  • Fruit: Fruits offer natural sugars that are a healthier alternative to other types of sugars. They also can help provide vital nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Healthy fats: These can help support brain health and reduce inflammation.
  • Protein: Protein is important for repairing tissues and balancing neurotransmitters. It can also help support exercise efforts during detox.

Supervised Drug and Alcohol Detox in Indy

At The Recovery Village Indianapolis Drug and Alcohol Rehab, we provide a supportive environment for people struggling with addiction. We offer state-of-the-art detox that addresses each component of your health, helping you to detox safely, comfortably and effectively. Our expert staff provide you with various program options tailored to meet your individual needs, recognizing that each person’s journey to recovery is unique.

Withdrawal symptoms during detox can be severe and, in some cases, life-threatening. By choosing a professional detox program like ours, you can access the care and support you need, including nutritional guidance, to make a successful transition to a substance-free life. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you or your loved one achieve lasting freedom from addiction.


World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed November 3, 2023.

Berger, Fred K. “Substance use recovery and diet.” MedlinePlus, April 30, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2023.

Berman, Jacob. “Alcohol withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, February 28, 2023. Accessed November 3, 2023.

Berger, Fred K. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, April 30, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2023.

Berger, Fred K. “Substance use – amphetamines.” MedlinePlus, April 30, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2023.

Meredith, Steven E.; Juliano, Laura M.; et al. “Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda.” Journal of Caffeine Research, September 2013. Accessed November 3, 2023.

Pem, Dhandevi & Jeewon, Rajesh. “Fruit and Vegetable Intake: Benefits and Progress of Nutrition Education Interventions- Narrative Review Article.” Iranian Journal of Public Health, October 2015. Accessed November 3, 2023.


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