In a society that is highly focused on physical appearance and weight gain/loss, it can feel like a significant step in the wrong direction when you start gaining weight after recovering from an addiction. It can feel confusing to your brain — why, if I’m now living a healthier lifestyle, is my weight suddenly increasing, an outcome that has been traditionally negative?
Well, first off, a little weight gain is not an inherently negative thing. Someone who has battled addiction for an extended period of time, they’ve most likely spent a long time wrapped up in detrimental patterns of living, including an unhealthy diet and/or a lack of exercise. So when you suddenly start giving your body the nutrients and attention it needs, gaining a little bit of weight is neither uncommon nor is it absolutely bad.
Is it good to gain weight after getting sober?
Following getting sober, many people see their weight increase. Addiction is often characterized by numerous unhealthy habits, including a lack of nutrients from an unbalanced diet, not getting the proper amount of sleep and not exercising. So, when these negative habits are suddenly reversed, your body, which has been undernourished in more ways than one, is likely to respond through weight gain.
Now, of course, there is the possibility of gaining more than what would be considered healthy weight: some people overcompensate for the lack of addictive habits with other habits, like an increased intake of highly salty, sugary or fatty foods. If not consumed within reason, these foods can increase one’s likelihood of gaining additional weight.
It’s up to you and your physician to determine what a healthy weight for you would be. But, if you supplement your recovery with healthy habits and balanced nutrition, you’re likely to see your body return to a nourished state of being, and will feel the positive effects of it as well.
What causes weight gain after addiction recovery?
There’s no one reason for weight gain as each individual’s journey is varied and unique. But you might notice some similarities between your journey and other common reasons for gaining weight during recovery.
One of the first things you’ll learn in substance use disorder treatment is that maintaining a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and healthy fats is crucial to a successful, sustainable recovery. It’s fulfilling to take care of yourself in this way, but it also takes time to turn it into a habit. While you’re initially learning which superfoods you like, and which one’s benefit your body, you might easily get burnt out and find yourself gravitating to comfort snacks on the harder days.
There’s nothing wrong with some mac and cheese or pizza after a long day, but it is important to keep it in check, otherwise, you will quickly begin to feel unhealthy from the food you’re intaking. To supplement your recovery, keep the amount of comfort food you eat to a minimum of once or twice a week and meal prep healthy meals for the rest of your week.
The phase following addiction recovery is a huge adjustment, both for you physically and mentally. As you switch from a lifestyle of addiction (and possibly neglect the needs of your body), your system is going to need to take time to adjust and heal as well. This may mean a number of things, weight gain among them.
As your body heals, you may put on weight quickly in the early stages of recovery. And while it may seem like a sudden increase in a short amount of time, your body will, in fact, balance itself out as you continue to take care of it. This includes a balanced, healthy weight as you eat well-curated meals.
Not to mention the fact that weight gain is not simply unwanted fat — especially if you are dedicating time in your recovery to exercising daily, you’re going to also see an increase in muscle weight. This is a positive thing! Increased muscle means increased strength and stamina, a sure sign of sustained recovery.
If you have — willingly or not — ignored the needs of your body as a result of substance use, your body is going to need time to heal and recover. You’re likely to notice a change in your physical appearance, from the glow of your skin to the thickness of your hair. Your eyes might appear brighter, you might feel more stamina throughout the day and you’ll undoubtedly have more energy as you go about your tasks as you leave behind unhealthy habits and replace them with those activities your body craves.
All of these signs of healing are important and necessary and will have you feeling infinitely better, mentally and physically, in your recovery.
Need support in your sobriety?
Sobriety isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. If you need additional support as you adjust to the new lifestyle changes, or you need help starting your recovery journey in general, reach out to Real Recovery today. With various outpatient therapies, you’re guaranteed to find a program to meet your recovery goals.