A Healthy Diet for ACoAs

Coming soon! Next week I’ll be interviewing author Stephanie Brown for this blog (she’s the author of several books for ACoAs — you can see many of her titles in the book list at right).


Last week I read a study about ACoAs that identified connections between early “adverse” childhood experiences (growing up around alcohol abuse or frequent instances physical/verbal abuse) and certain health problems and diseases, like heart disease and liver problems. Next post I will provide a detailed report on that report.

For today, with the topic of “health” in mind, I want to highlight the importance of a healthy diet for ACoAs. This is so important for adult children of alcoholics, who desperately need nutrients.

Many children of alcoholics have poor diets — unbalanced — because we grew up in households where there was too much drama in general for nutrition to have a focus, be consistently provided, or explained to us. Eating disorders aren’t uncommon in the alcoholic universe (I remember that my mother was obsessed with being skinny (which she already was) and my stepmother was on and off diets for about 25 years). The nightly family dinner was not enjoyable for most of us and more likely than not contained more tension than nutrition. I wouldn’t be surprised if eating dinner is, subconsciously, tightly connected to tension for many of us because of the anxiety that went hand-in-hand with family meals, whether they were nightly family dinners or weekly. Most alcoholic parents were too focused on themselves and their addiction to be able to focus on us or our nutrition. Emotions and food are more likely to be intertwined for children of alcoholics than for those who grew up in non-addictive settings.

If we’re going to heal ourselves and recover, feeding ourselves good food is paramount. I’ve added a couple books to the list that are about healthy eating. I don’t believe in fad diets, but I do believe in increasing organic fruits and organic vegetables in my diet (miraculously, when I add leafy greens and increase fruits to my daily eating, I automatically eat less refined foods and foods containing preservatives). We also need to stop over-eating.

The key for ACoAs when dieting is BALANCE. We’re inclined to extremes and black and white thinking so keep that characteristic in mind, and don’t “cut out all sugar” suddenly and don’t go on a detox fast for days on end.

Go for moderation. Start to introduce better foods into your daily eating. I believe that food can help us heal; when you put good food into your body, it is an act of loving yourself, investing in yourself, and that will lead to clearer thinking, more energy, confidence, and (I hope) a peaceful, contented feeling.

Think about healing yourself by feeding yourself well.

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