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How to Deal with Weight Gain During Recovery

Gaining weight when we get sober and are going through recovery is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. It is perfectly normal to gain weight once you reach sobriety due to the damage that has been done to your body from substance abuse. When you get sober, your body has to recover from the years of damage caused to it. Cell repair and growth requires a lot of energy, which leads to an insatiable appetite. Find out why weight gain is normal during addiction recovery.

Why Do I Get So Hungry During Recovery?

When you take substances, whether alcohol, cocaine, or opioids, you release a surge of chemicals in the brain that is responsible for your sense of well-being, motivation, energy, and movement. It makes sense, therefore, that when you get sober, that the brain is lacking in those chemicals; so, the brain seeks out those chemicals in other pleasure-seeking substances: food, sex, nicotine, gambling, etc.

This is called addiction transfer. This neurological process has the ability to override rational thought in pursuit of pleasure. This is why you eat a whole pack of cookies and have no idea how it happened. It is the same reason we had one drink and couldn’t stop there. Addiction is a serious issue and it’s important to understand how to battle it successfully.

It’s Perfectly Normal

Sober weight gain and hunger for certain foods are very common in recovery. For some, these issues resolve themselves after a few months. For others, it reveals deeper issues, such as eating disorders. It’s important to remember that these physical changes shouldn’t make you feel hopeless and depressed; there are some really easy ways to tackle these changes so that you feel empowered and gain more energy to sustain your recovery.

You should not react to this sudden weight gain frantically and resort to bad habits, it’s important to keep calm and understand that your body is going through many serious changes. Here are some ways to help deal with the change during your recovery:

Refrain from Buying Packaged Food

By not eating processed and packaged foods, you can gain some control of your eating habits because whole foods don’t overpower your rational brain, so you eat what you intended to. Try resorting to whole foods that are trusted and healthier for you. Also, whole foods provide more sustained energy and help with your mood.

Exercise & Feel-Good Chemicals

Exercise is another great method to battle weight gain. Try running, jogging, hiking, swimming, going to the gym frequently, or even things like a ten-minute walk can help. Soon enough, you will feel mentally and physically better due to the release of endorphins through exercise. Exercising also helps to battle energy and sleep levels and you can notice a difference in sleeping better and your mood will be more stable. Also, feeling energized leads to better food choices.

Learn How to Cook Your Own Meals

During your sobriety, you should learn how to cook your own meals and prepare your own meals in order to eat healthier and avoid processed foods. This can help to battle weight gain and bad eating habits from forming, like constantly relying on fast food. When you learn how to prepare your own meals you can eat better and explore your taste more.

Learning recipes and prepping healthy meals is also ideal when learning how to cook. There are many benefits to cooking your own meals and it’s highly recommended to brush up on it. Cooking can be really fun and exciting when you try cooking new and healthy recipes. There’s so much to explore when it comes to food, learn more about diet here.

We’re Here to Help

Overall, weight gain is totally normal during recovery, but it is important to practice living a healthy lifestyle during addiction recovery as well. If you or anyone you know is dealing with substance abuse, contact The Detox Center of Los Angeles today.


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Will my insurance cover treatment for addiction?

The Detox Center of L.A. accepts most major insurance providers and private healthcare policies. We offer free insurance verification as well as eligibility and benefits for both behavioral and mental health treatment services. Please fill out our insurance verification form here to verify your insurance.

What happens in addiction

Effective addiction treatment programs are tailored to each individual. Because of this, it will be a different experience for everyone. However, it generally involves a combination of detoxification, group and individual therapy, educational presentations, and aftercare planning in order to ensure long-term recovery. Upon arrival at The Detox Center of L.A., you can expect our professionally trained staff to create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs and treatment goals.