Running regular workshops for nearly 4 years means we have quite a community of Tribe Sober graduates these days – many of them stay in touch via our WhatsApp and Facebook groups, as well as monthly coffee dates.
Microbiologist Janis came to one of our early workshops and says:
“Attending a workshop was the best thing I ever did for myself… it encouraged me to do a couple of lengthy “sober sprints” which were life-altering and completely re-set my relationship with alcohol.”
We decided to pick her clever brain about how to build up our health in recovery, and she sent us the following tips. Thanks Janis – keep rocking!
Author: Janis Le Roux
I am a qualified microbiologist with a passion for food, curry, rock music and probiotics.
Early days (Part One) – Healthy ways to get your groove back!
You might have stopped drinking with good intentions to feel healthier and happier, only to be disappointed that you are continuously tired, struggling to sleep and feeling less than amazing. Don’t worry, you are not alone. There are plenty of healthy changes that can help restore your system and help you get your groove back!
Alcohol can wreak havoc on your system, disrupt your gut population and rob you of essential nutrients. It’s a central nervous system depressant, and as the name implies, can cause an imbalance in brain chemistry, often causing or worsening depression and anxiety.
Whether you have decided to try a 30-day booze-free detox, or have sworn off the vino forever, you will benefit from making some healthy adjustments to your lifestyle.
In the early days of giving up drinking, your only job should be to not drink. That in itself is hard enough! It can be overwhelming to add too many changes to your lifestyle so stick to the basics. Here are ten ways that you can start:
Water – alcohol is a powerful dehydrating agent so it is likely that you will be starting the journey needing some added hydration. Make sure to replace your water loss by drinking at least two litres of a water a day.
A good multivitamin – alcohol depletes your essential nutrients so start by taking a good multivit. A lot of nutritionists are starting to recommend the pregnancy ranges as they are a bang for your buck mix of omegas, multivitamin and minerals, three pills a day with added calcium. Don’t be put off by the fact that they are pregnancy vitamins. They are really just a branded box of high-strength multis, and it is likely that you will have low levels of folic acid anyway so a good folic source is a bonus!
Thiamine (vitamin B1) –Drinking alcohol interferes with thiamine absorption and low levels can cause fatigue and neurological disorders. Doctors usually prescribe thiamine supplements to recovering alcoholics for this reason. Relatively affordable generic thiamine supplements are available from most pharmacies.
Regular meals – Going on unsustainable, restrictive diets is often unnecessary and potentially dangerous in the early days of alcohol recovery so try to avoid them if possible. Focus instead on getting good quality, unprocessed whole foods and having regular meal times, no less than three hours apart which will signal to the body that it is no longer being starved of nutrients. Ensuring there is a small portion of protein or good fats will slow the absorption of carbs, allowing your body to maintain blood sugar levels. This should do wonders in improving your mood and energy levels and help clear brain fog.
Probiotics – Scientific studies are highlighting the connection between your gut bacteria and your brain, calling it the gut-brain axis. In fact your gut has been shown to have its own nervous system, just think of how your tummy feels when you have a big presentation at work or a hot date. Butterflies eek! Alcohol interferes with the vital health of your stomach lining and crucial gut biome. A good probiotic will help heal the intestinal system, which will in turn, help your brain produce happy and relaxing hormones like serotonin and dopamine. And one can always do with more of those!
Glutamine – Adding this amino acid supplement will help you heal your gut lining and thereby improve digestion and It is also used by body builders for muscle recovery. This little gem of a supplement will help reduce sugar cravings, and as alcohol is loaded with sugar you will find you likely need a bit of help reducing those crazy cravings for sweet things which is a common occurrence in early sobriety.
Theanine – Need a supplement to bring some calm without the drowsy sedation of most calming pills? Then theanine is your best bet. Theanine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein, safe, affordable and available from a health store or pharmacy.
Omegas –Fatty acids make up cellular membranes so are essential for the health of your entire system and even more so in recovery, as your brain will be replacing old cells and rewiring the brain circuitry. Good sources are flax seeds, eggs, avo, fatty fish and nuts. You can grind flax seeds in a coffee grinder and add a spoonful to your oats in the morning.
Exercise – Research clearly shows that exercise helps your body, whether you’re in recovery or not. You may take a while to start enjoying it, but remember that your body is healing from years of abuse so give it time and start slowly. Choose an activity that you like or are interested in, and then just show up. Who knows? You might meet new friends and discover a new passion in the process!
Mindfulness – Yoga, meditation. One cannot over empathize the benefits of practicing mindfulness and being present. Regular practice can improve your mood, sleep and help you deal with stressful situations.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. This information is not attempting to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any physical, mental or emotional issue, disease or condition.