Have you been feeling slower than usual? Maybe you have less energy for activities. Have you ever considered maybe you’re not eating enough or eating the right things for your nutrition?
Diet and Nutrition
Sometimes it’s hard to understand the difference between diet and nutrition. Some people use them interchangeably, and nutritionists help you with your diet. So what is the difference?
Essentially, a diet is about the food you eat in a day. When people discuss going on a diet, they’re talking about changing their food consumption. But nutrition is about the production of food, so energy and fuel to function. The difference is large, as nutrition pays attention to proteins, minerals, and vitamins. All parts of the body require different minerals and vitamins for good function; it is hard enough in a busy schedule to make sure you eat enough, let alone enough nutrients.
However, when you include intoxicants, like alcohol, into your diet, your nutrition gets greatly affected, sometimes in ways we don’t immediately realize.
5 Ways Alcohol Affects Diet and Nutrition
Your nutrition is affected by your diet, but it isn’t just about consuming healthy and nutrient-rich foods but also abstaining from harmful substances, such as alcohol. Alcohol isn’t just a toxin but can lead to addiction or physical health issues. Understanding the impact alcohol has on your diet and nutrition is vital in caring for your body.
#1. Empty Calories
When consuming alcohol, people most often mix it with juices, carbonated drinks, or sugary mixers. Adding these things makes the bitter burn of alcohol a little more tolerable. However, according to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some people who abuse alcohol consume up to 50% of their daily calories through alcoholic drinks. That means people drink calories through juices and carbonated sodas, which is not nutritionally beneficial in any way.
When we eat, our food is digested and made into energy, which provides us with enough for our day. If people who are struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) are consuming half of what is supposed to be energy, then their body isn’t going to last through the day. It’ll be hard to get through the day, and it can feel like it’s dragging when a person doesn’t get enough proper calories to make into energy.
#2. Don’t Process the Food You Do Eat
When drinking, people tend to get cravings for fatty foods. You tend to find beer and wine sold with easy, quick foods like burgers or charcuterie boards. People can tend to eat mindlessly when socializing and drinking. However, when alcohol and food are combined, it is not always beneficial.
Consuming food while drinking means that less food gets eaten because of the calories in the drinks, as mentioned previously. Something that people might not realize is even the food that someone manages to eat may not get processed properly. Consistent alcohol usage affects the way our bodies absorb nutrients, like how intoxicants cause less abnormal absorption of sugars, causing blood sugar levels.
Additionally, when food is consumed and able to be processed, it is usually used as heat to insulate the body rather than providing energy.
#3. Forget to Eat
Forgetting to eat might be one of the most obvious effects alcohol has on our nutrition. Most people know that one of the first side effects of drinking alcohol is brain function. Either by causing people to think slower or by impaired movements, like body shakes. But alcohol also causes forgetfulness while drinking too.
Sometimes alcohol muddles the brain, so people think they’re having fun and are okay, not knowing they may not have eaten since they started drinking. And if you don’t eat, then there is no nutritional value at all; actually, the opposite since you would only be consuming the empty calories that come with alcohol.
When drinking, especially if you forget to eat, then only alcohol and empty calories go into your stomach. This may cause a negative reaction with stomach acid, causing vomiting or purging. Or even diarrhea is a common side effect after a heavy night of drinking. In either case, people may develop a deficiency in minerals such as calcium or iron. The deficiency, rather than the actual act of purging or diarrhea, is dangerous to a person’s nutrition.
#5. Suppressing Hunger
Suppressing hunger is one of the least harmful to your nutrition on this list, but still causes future danger through continued hunger suppression.
As mentioned above, the consumption of alcohol affects the brain and memory, which causes forgetfulness to eat. In addition to this, alcohol affects different systems that influence appetite control or hunger indicators. There is no research that proves a scientific link between alcohol and suppressing hunger. Still, if you are a consistent user of alcohol, you may recall incidents of drinking where food was available, but you didn’t choose to eat because you weren’t hungry.
It is commonly reported that people don’t feel hungry while drinking, so they will not eat but continue to drink, waiting to get hungry. This not only doesn’t work, but will have an adverse reaction on our nutrition as indicated above, then the body is absent the necessary minerals, proteins, and vitamins it needs.
Healthy Body for a Healthy Mind
We all know that mind and body health are connected. When our body is healthy, we can feel better overall. And sadly, the reverse is true, if we aren’t living a healthy lifestyle, it shows from the inside out. It is important to take care of both your mind and body to be able to live a meaningful life.
If you think you have a problem with substance abuse, especially when it concerns alcohol, it may be time to take a deeper look at your habits. We at Villa Oasis San Diego understand having SUD is not a choice. We are here to help you understand, diagnose, and start managing your SUD. Additionally, we also provide support through the process of detox and treatment that include nutrition education. We care about all aspects of our residents’ well-being. Call us at (619) 373-9792 today to learn more about how we can help you manage a disorder and help heal your body. Don’t lose hope. The Villa Oasis family is here to help you.