Chronic fatigue Syndrome Diet.
After a few years of GP visits, countless medical tests and various tablets, I was at my lowest point ever. Doing an average of 20,000+ steps a day was in the past. Now I was struggling to get around the house (under 500). There’s no question chronic fatigue is a debilitating condition that can impact your entire life.
One day by chance, as I lay on the couch, I watched a program about the food we eat in modern society. Much of the food we eat is processed, or, loaded with sugar. This got me thinking.
Although there haven’t been major studies on the effects of diet on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Jose Montoya, MD, a professor of medicine and a specialist at Stanford’s Chronic Fatigue clinic, maintained that diet does appear to contribute to chronic fatigue.
That being said, each individual has different dietary requirements. What works for one, may not suit another. You could fast track what works for you by having yourself tested for food allergies. Eliminating foods that simply don’t agree with you, is a must, and for me, this transition was gradual. My body found it difficult to adapt to any changes at this point, so over the course of a few weeks I ate more of what was good for me, and less of what was bad.
At the moment, more research still needs to be done, but there are plenty of things you can do to help boost energy levels and ensure you’re getting more of the right nutrition, a well-balanced diet. It is also important to note that I turned to diet after being deemed “medically fit”. Here are some suggestions to consider.
This is something I never really paid much attention to, but after doing some research on the subject, I realized just how important and relevant water is to recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
You see, our bodies are made up of approximately 70% water, so it would be fair to say it is essential for maintaining optimum health. Without water, we will die – extreme I know, but true.
When we don’t get enough water our bodies struggle to get much-needed oxygen to the muscles and to your brain. Even small amounts of fluid imbalance can cause brain fog, headaches, joint and muscle pain/cramps, poor digestion, skin problems and fatigue.
While drinking water is one way of hydrating, we also get water from the food we eat. Fresh vegetables contain up to 70% water, and most fruits are made up of 90% water.
Staying hydrated is an essential step in the chronic fatigue syndrome diet, and should not be ignored. I shall elaborate more on the importance of hydration in a subsequent post.
Inflammatory foods like sugar, fried foods, and processed meats, have little place in the chronic fatigue syndrome diet. Sugar may help boost energy in the short term, but in turn causes spikes and drops in sugar levels, thus leaving you feeling lethargic and hungry. Unfortunately, these foods are all too common in western society today and eliminating them from our diet can be a challenge.
Challenging as it may be, if we want to recover we must avoid these foods as much as possible. Inflammation can cause
fatigue, fever, skin disorders, swelling, general aches and pains to mention a few. These symptoms are also present in up to 90% of chronic fatigue sufferers.
Introducing anti-inflammatory foods such as olive oil, avocados, almonds, leafy greens (spinach etc.) and berries can make a significant improvement to our health and over-all energy levels.
Remember: get a food allergy test to fast track this process 🙂
Go easy on yourself.
Take the stress out of the day. If you are anything like I am, you want to recover today, without any help. Slow down. This takes time. Ask for and accept help when you can. There is no shame in this. You are ill, and you deserve every chance to get well.
We didn’t become this way overnight. Remember, “what works for me, may not work for you”, so the guidance of a dietitian or doctor (with knowledge of CFS) is highly recommended.
Some Helpful Tips.
Pay close attention to the food you eat. Eat nutrient rich foods. Our bodies are an accumulation of these foods. Therefore, it is particularly important for people with CFS to eat healthy. I found introducing and eliminating foods gradually, worked best. Remember, it’s what’s right for you, and as yet, there is no evidence supporting any one diet for CFS patients. You, are the best judge, so note how different foods make you feel and adjust accordingly.
Keeping a “food and symptom” diary can be a very valuable asset. Also, having a weekly meal plan to follow, may sound like a lot of work, but, will save you the unwanted stress of “what to cook next”, especially when making changes to your diet. As you make changes, you can can make a note of what helps your symptoms, and what doesn’t. For example: I have yet to meet someone who has more energy after eating a quarter-pounder with cheese meal ( leaves me feeling sluggish and tired), where a salad will give me energy and better mental focus.
You may, or may not, need help with this, as it depends on the level of fatigue you experience. Personally, it took a few weeks, for me to get to a point where I could manage this myself. This is valuable information you can share with a doctor to aid in your recovery.
It may sound too good to be true, but depending on how much “wrong foods” we eat, will determine how much diet contributes to the level of fatigue we experience. It is also true, more of the right foods, will give you energy.
So, why not start today? Hydrate, cut down on sugar, and eat more vegetables. Most of us can improve our nutrition on some level, and if you have CFS, I believe nutrition to be the foundation of recovery.
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