Chronic Fatigue Diet
You can develop a chronic fatigue diet that will help you enjoy the benefits of healthy eating. Eating well has always been an important component to feeling well. Improving our diets can speed our recovery by eliminating symptoms caused by poor nutrition and food allergies.
A good chronic fatigue diet has three main goals: 1. providing excellent nutrition; 2. stabilizing blood sugar; and 3. eliminating allergies.
Provide Excellent Nutrition
You have learned the importance of a varied diet since you first discovered the food pyramid in grade school. Although there have been some changes in suggested servings, the best and most effective diets have some basic things in common: Protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Eating a balanced diet with a variety of these foods will improve your health overall.
If you really want to boost your nutrition, consider enriching your diet with “superfoods”. Packed with nutrients, anti-oxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids, these foods can help you lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, maintain your weight, fight disease, improve memory, and put you in a better mood.
- Dark Chocolate
Stabilize Blood Sugar
People with chronic fatigue have difficulty producing energy. A good chronic fatigue diet should support, not sabotage, energy production.
Many people with chronic fatigue benefit from a low GI (glycemic index) diet. Different carbohydrates behave differently in our bodies. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Low GI carbs are the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels.
You can use a chart to determine which foods are low GI carbs, but there are also a couple of rules to guide you.
- Avoid sugary and fried foods.
- Whole foods are better than processed foods.
- Vegetables grown below the ground (carrots, yams, potatoes) have a higher GI than vegetables grown above the ground (lettuce, broccoli, cabbage).
- Fruits are higher than vegetables.
- Dried fruits are higher than fresh fruits.
- You can use proteins and fats to balance your higher GI foods. For example, eat fruit with peanut butter or cheese, and add nuts to your breakfast cereal. Drink a glass of milk when you occasionally indulge in sweets.
Cinnamon is also a good blood sugar stabilizer. You can sprinkle ½ teaspoon cinnamon on your food throughout the day.
It is also available in concentrated form as a supplement that has the added benefit of controlling appetite
It is very common that people with chronic fatigue syndrome have chemical and food sensitivities. Their fatigue can be an “allergic reaction” to food intolerance, food additives or a chemical sensitivity. All of these can be “triggers” which can cause low energy, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
You may want to ask your doctor to test for food allergies, especially if you notice other symptoms such as rash, itchy watery eyes, or congestion.
You can also try an elimination diet to see if you are sensitive to certain foods that often cause allergies.
Foods to avoid.
Some people with chronic fatigue find that some foods cause their symptoms to worsen. The most common trigger foods are fried foods, foods high in saturated fats, refined sugar, aspartame (Nutrasweet), monosodium glutamate (MSG), caffeine, and alcohol. Tobacco related products can also act as triggers.
Strategies for healthy eating with chronic fatigue.
Of course, we all understand the importance of eating healthy. We all want to eat healthy! But sometimes our chronic fatigue sabotages our efforts. Here are some strategies to help us stick to our chronic fatigue diet and eat well even during our down days.
1. Menus. Prepare a simple, repeating menu of healthy, easy to prepare meals. Think about how much variety you like in your meals. Do you prefer a few favorite comfort foods? A menu for a week or two would work for you. Are you a little more adventurous and would get bored without variety? Try a month-long menu.
2. Shopping. Once you have your menus, you can compile your shopping list. Include emergency healthy foods as a back up for your down days. String cheese, whole grain granola bars, popcorn, nuts, fruits, and raw vegetables are great, no-prep snacks. The new 100-calorie pack snacks are a good way to indulge your carb cravings. For meals, choose canned soups and frozen foods low in calories and with lots of vegetables instead of fatty, high calorie foods.
If you feel up to shopping,
plan your trip for a day with few other obligations. Allow yourself plenty of rest before and after.
If you are not up to shopping, ask for help! Many people would be glad to piggy back your shopping trip with their own.
3. Cooking. Since you've chosen simple, easy to prepare meals for your menu, cooking on your good days shouldn't over-tax you.
Be sure to allow for rest before and after.
Again, if you're having a down day, ask for help! Your simple meals should be easy enough for a spouse or older children to prepare.
One way to ensure you always have healthy meals on hand is to double, triple, or quadruple your recipes and freeze the extras. Not only will you eat better, but you'll also save money. If enough help is available, consider trying a big cooking session that would give you frozen meals for a month.
Source: “Superfoods Everyone Needs,” by Susan Seliger, WebMD Feature. “Home of the Glycemic Index” at www. GlycemicIndex.com and “Glycemic Index Chart” at www.GlycemicIndexFacts.com.
Here are some good resources for healthy cooking, recipes, once-a-month cooking, and freezing tips.
The Flagging Chef -- My Recipe Blog
Eating Well Quick and Healthy Meals
30 Minute Meals
Cooking for Fitness
Once-A-Month Cooking World
Allrecipe's Freezing Tips
Healthy cooking techniques and recommended cookware. Also exercise, nutrition and weight loss information.
Do you have any good, easy recipes you'd like to share? Send them to me, and I'll post them on
my recipe blog.
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