Adrenal Fatigue Diet
What should you be eating when you have adrenal fatigue? And what foods are doing you more harm than good? Here are some adrenal fatigue diet do's and don'ts for adrenal support.
The basic diet for adrenal fatigue is similar to any diet for a healthy lifestyle. Regular meals consisting of high-quality nutritious foods are important to maintaining adrenal function and keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation that has worked its way into our thinking, and many of us are unknowingly hindering our own recovery by following erroneous eating patterns. Coffee to get going, a muffin and more coffee mid-morning, avoiding salt, fat, and real sugar and replacing them with artificial substitutes, skipping meals and eating on the run are all habits that directly (and adversely!) affect your adrenal glands.
DIET FOR ADRENAL FATIGUE
- Eat frequent, high protein meals and snacks (3 meals, 3 snacks daily). Be sure to have breakfast within 30 minutes of waking, and plan to eat something every 2-3 hours to help keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Eat "Real" food. Not pre-packaged mixes, not "imitation pasteurized processed cheese food" ... Seriously, if you have to intentionally label it as food because otherwise I wouldn't recognize it as such, well...thanks, but no...the sad thing is that they have been exceedingly clear that this is imitation food, not real food, yet we don't seem to comprehend what that means, and continue to put it in our shopping carts...
- Forget what you've learned about "breakfast foods". The WORST things you can have for breakfast are fruits and cereals. These items quickly convert to sugars, which will give you a speedy blood-sugar spike, but end up requiring your adrenals to work harder to catch you as you "crash" later in the morning. Think protein instead. Eggs, meats, etc. If you start your day with fruit, make sure it's the whole fruit, which has fiber to slow down the absorbtion of the sugar, as opposed to juice, which is just a straight sugar jolt. And follow it up within half an hour with something more substantial. If you must have a grain product, avoid white sugar/white flour products and stay with the whole grain choices like oatmeal, or pumpernickel toast, which are complex carbohydrates that takes longer to metabolize. And ALWAYS include some protein. A quick and easy breakfast option is a whey protein meal shake.
- Limit starchy and sugary vegetables and fruits (especially bananas, because they are high in potassium, which is already high in adrenal fatigue). Make your choices from the non-starchy vegetables as often as possible. Raw and lightly cooked are your best prep options. However, always cook your crucifers (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) to neutralize the goitrogenic compounds (thyroid suppressors).
- Eliminate white sugar and white flours. These simple carbohydrates require a greater release of insulin in order for your body to deal with them, and this stresses your adrenals by making it even harder for them to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Choose whole-grain options, and sweeten with Xylitol, palm sugar, or raw honey. Complex carbohydrates will help you feel fuller
faster, "stay with you" longer, digest slower, and provide fiber as well
as moderating blood sugar.
- Avoid "diet" food. While white sugar is bad, artificial sweeteners are REALLY BAD. Diet sodas, artificial sweeteners, non-fat products that should actually have some fat in them--these products wreak havoc on everyone's metabolism, not only those of us who have adrenal fatigue. Diet foods containing artificial sweeteners and artificial fats should never be considered components of a healthy diet. They can actually cause you to gain weight! Again, consider trying some Xylitol, which, has HALF the calories of white sugar, a significantly lower glycemic index, and great flavor with no weird aftertaste, unlike artifical sweeteners.
- Eliminate caffeine entirely. I know this is easier said than done, and the withdrawl symptoms from stopping cold turkey can be pretty uncomfortable in addition to being hard on your adrenals, so if you are a big coffee drinker, wean off gradually. Try cutting your consumption in half, then in half again.
- Eliminate alcohol entirely. Like caffeine, this can be a difficult substance to eliminate cold turkey. Check out the book Potatoes Not Prozac: Solutions for Sugar Sensitivity for some interesting discussion on the connection between alcohol cravings and sugar sensitivity, and a seven-step plan for controlling sugar cravings. This is especially important for adrenal fatigue sufferers who are having a hard time stabilizing their blood sugar.
- Do NOT limit your salt intake when you have adrenal fatigue, especially if you are craving salty foods.
Sodium is critical for adrenal function, and is usually low when
adrenals are depleted. However, all table salts are not created equal.
Celtic Sea Salt is a healthier choice because it has an abundance of
trace minerals in addition to sodium that are beneficial as well.
- Do NOT restrict fats in your diet, but DO make sure you are eating the right kinds of fats. Your body uses fats and cholesterol to make hormones, and if you are not getting enough, then your body cannot produce the hormones it needs. I know this is contrary to current trends, but it is possible that the current recommendations actually contribute to depressed adrenal function if followed too stringently. Good fats include olive oil, real butter (preferrably organic), grapeseed oil & coconut oil (both of which are the only fats you should be using at high heats, like for frying).
Also, it is important to identify and eliminate foods that you are allergic or sensitive to. Delayed food allergies, or food sensitivities, are more common than you may realize, and the most common offenders are the foods that you are using in some form every day (milk, wheat, eggs, soy, corn, and many others). They may not be causing dramatic reactions like hives or anaphylaxis, but they are contributing to your general feeling of malaise, as well as seriously stressing your adrenals.