In the chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous titled “The Family Afterward,” the authors touch on a variety of subjects about what life is like for the family after a loved one has recovered from alcoholism. Briefly, the authors touch on health and specifically touch on a curious part of nutrition for those who are in the early stages of recovery: candy and sweets. “One of the many doctors who had the opportunity of reading this book in manuscript form told us that the use of sweets was often helpful, of course depending upon a doctor’s advice,” the authors explain. “He thought all alcoholics should constantly have chocolate available for its quick energy value at times of fatigue.” Energy from chocolate is one small benefit of sweets. A quick sugar fix can be the answer to cravings during any time of day or night. “…Occasionally in the night, a vague craving arose which would be satisfied by candy,” the authors write. “Many of us have noticed a tendency to eat sweets and have found this practice beneficial.”
Alcoholics in early recovery often latch onto this paragraph as a means for justifying their ravaging sweet tooth. Many Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are hosted with hot coffee and some kind of sweet treat, like cookies or doughnuts. In treatment, however, the approach to sugar varies. While some providers see sugar as a lesser of evils, others see it as an attachment to old habits of poor health. Nutrition is important for the recovery of the body and the mind. In order for the physical form of the body and the brain to heal, a well rounded, nutritionally focused diet is helpful for providing energy, rebuilding muscles, aiding in good digestion, and much more.
Recovery is about more than the healing of the mind and body, it is also about the healing of the spirit. Arguably, a bit of candy, chocolate, and other kinds of sweets are as much spiritual healing as anything else. We crave candy and sweets in early recovery because of the changes in our body taking place, attempting to compensate for the sugar levels lost with the abstinence of alcohol. Perhaps part of our craving is a need for comfort as well as chemical stimulation and knowing that we can give our body, as well as our minds, the healthy rewards we need to get through some of our most challenging moments in early recovery.
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