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Medically Reviewed

Best (and Worst) Foods to Eat During Drug and Alcohol Detox

- 7 sections

Medically Reviewed: June 10, 2021

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Abusing drugs and alcohol can be very hard on your body. First, there are the direct, physical effects of the drugs, such as dangerous fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure, sedation, or changes in digestion. Over time, abusing substances can result in long-term damage to the liver, heart, brain, or stomach.[1] When you reduce or stop using drugs or alcohol, the body begins to remove toxins and begin healing. This is commonly called detox.

Detox is a natural process. Your body is capable of removing waste, toxins, and the byproducts of drugs and alcohol. However natural it might be, detox can be pretty uncomfortable. The symptoms of withdrawal can vary depending on the substances you were using and the length of time you used them. But most people agree that the detox period is not a lot of fun.

But don’t worry–there are some simple things you can do to make this time as comfortable as possible. Your goal should be to support your body as it does the important work of detoxification by giving it all the rest, nourishment, and movement it needs to be healthy during this time. As a result, eating the right foods during detox can be monumental.

Starting out with good nutrition is key. Eating well during detox can help make sure your body is able to do its restorative, healing work, and it can help you feel more comfortable during the process. There is no magic pill that will make your body perfectly healthy during the detox process–but good nutrition and hydration might be the next best thing. Here is a list of the best (and worst) foods to eat during detox.

foods at detox

Best Foods to Eat During Detox

During detox, your focus should be to support the health and functioning of your body through good nutrition. This means choosing foods that supply your body with the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs as the majority of your diet. Try to fill your plate with the following:[2]

  • Protein: lean meat like chicken or turkey, fish, beans, eggs, and dairy are all great sources of protein
  • Healthy fats: nuts, salmon, and avocado are delicious sources of essential, healthy fats
  • Fiber: foods like beans, veggies (especially leafy greens), fruit, and whole grains can help keep your digestive system moving and prevent constipation
  • Complex carbohydrates: whole-grain cereal, wheat bread, brown rice, and potatoes are great sources of essential vitamins and minerals and can make you feel more energized
  • Water-rich foods: soups, fruit, and herbal tea are satisfying ways to get more water into your diet when you may not be up for large meals

Your appetite might fluctuate during the detox process. Try to have healthy, easy-to-prepare foods like pre-cut fruit, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and premade sandwiches or salads in your fridge so you are ready to nourish yourself whenever you feel hungry.

What Foods to Avoid During Detox

For most people, eating perfectly at all times is not realistic. However, there are some foods that you should try to limit during detox. These include:

  • Sugar: sugary soda, candy, baked goods, and other sweet treats can cause your blood sugar to surge and plummet, which can make you feel anxious, irritable, or sleepy
  • Caffeine: limit your caffeine intake by cutting out coffee, energy drinks, and caffeinated soda
  • Saturated fat: avoid fast food and processed baked goods to avoid getting excessive amounts of saturated fat–it can lead to elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and the foods that contain it are usually lacking in other essential nutrients

Will you end up eating some of these things? Probably. And is that OK? It is–but try to limit these as much as possible. Focus on giving your body the nutritious, healthy food it deserves as it does its hard work. You’ll definitely feel the difference.

What Should I Do If I Am Not Hungry During Detox?

The reality of detox is that you’ll probably be uncomfortable. It’s likely that your diet, hydration, and sleep have not existed on a healthy schedule for a while. You may be dehydrated after a period of nausea, sweating, and vomiting. When thinking about what to eat during alcohol detox or withdrawal from drugs, plan to:

Focus on Hydration

You might not feel like eating any type of food during detox, but try to drink as much water as possible. If plain water isn’t working for you, try sparkling water, flavored water, juice, herbal tea, or popsicles. Broth, soup, or even jello can be a great way to ease back into eating while getting extra water.

Eat Regularly

Make a plan to eat regularly. For some people, this might be three meals a day. For others, it might mean stopping five or six times for a snack or small meal. Find the rhythm that works for your body and make sure to stick to it.

Don’t Force Yourself to Eat

There may be times that you just can’t eat because of ongoing nausea or general discomfort. At the very least, try to drink some water or juice if you can’t keep food down or aren’t able to eat. If you have prolonged periods of nausea and are not able to eat or drink, get medical care immediately.

The safest option for detox is to go through a structured, medically supervised detox program. Having support and medical care during withdrawal is important for a complete, comfortable detox, especially after struggling with a severe or long addiction.

Nutritional Assistance During Detox at Charlotte Detox Center

You do not have to go through detox on your own. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery from addiction, reach out to the staff at the Charlotte North Carolina Drug and Alcohol Detox Center. Our passion is providing high-quality detox and rehab programs that empower people to overcome their addictions. Our program includes nutritional assistance to help you eat the best possible foods during detox to promote bodily healing. Call us today to get started.