This day in age, nearly everyone around us is suffering from some degree of adrenal fatigue. Simply put, this means that the stress of our modern day lifestyle is catching up with us. Between getting up early, rushing out the door with a cup of double strength coffee, prepping for the last minute meeting with the boss, attempting to get the kids on time to and from school, ensuring our partner has had more than just a goodbye kiss and battling traffic to and from work, it’s nearly impossible to find downtime to re-energize and restore. To make matters worse, in an effort to “catch” up on life we often end up skimping on sleep, which only exacerbates the problem.
The aim of this post is to educate you on a few helpful tips to help you avoid and treat adrenal fatigue. Most of us, whether we have been diagnosed or not, can benefit from this information.
The most crucial part of taking care of your adrenals is taking care of YOU. If you are serious about healing your adrenals and the rest of your body, you have to put YOU at the center of the picture and be willing to make sacrifices in some areas of your life that are pulling you down. It might just be the hardest,best decision you ever make!
14 TIPS FOR COMBATTING ADRENAL FATIGUE
- Eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking. Depending on the stage of adrenal fatigue you are in, you may have high or low cortisol in the morning upon waking. Eating a breakfast meal full of protein, fat and fiber will help to you balance the spike or dip in your cortisol levels. This goes without saying, but don’t skip breakfast, it’s one of the worst things you can do for a healing adrenal gland.
- Start the morning with warm lemon water or apple cider vinegar. Add a shake of sea salt to help sooth the adrenals.
- Eat at regular intervals throughout the day. When you are in adrenal fatigue, the body has a difficult time storing energy. Eating smaller meals at more regular intervals will help your body learn to better regulate blood sugar so you can feel your best. Ideally you are eating a healthy snack between meals around 9-10am and 2-3pm.
- Use healthy fats at every meal. Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut oil and nuts/seeds help slow the release of sugar into your body leaving you to feel more full, satisfied and even tempered.
- Include lean protein with each meal and snack. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings for refined sugar and caffeine. Animal or plant source proteins are fine.
- Try eating lower-carb at breakfast and higher carb at dinner. There is an example of this in the sample meal plan below, but this pattern of eating helps many with adrenal fatigue feel better.
- Kick the caffeine habit. Caffeine provides extra stimulation to our adrenal glands which is already working in overdrive. If going cold turkey sounds too difficult, consider switching to green tea first, then decaf green tea as a second step. Green tea has a lot of beneficial effects on gut health so may be helpful when consumed daily.
- Talk to your naturopath or functional medicine doctor about adaptogenic herbs that might support your adrenals in the healing process. Herbs might include those like Maca, Ginseng (Panax sp.), Ashwagandha, Astragalus root, Rhodiola rosea or Licorice root.
- Be in bed before 10pm. Getting on a regular schedule with your sleep and making sleep a priority is key to healing.
- Find pleasure and eliminate the energy robbers (things that drain your energy). We only have 80 years on this planet, maybe less, so finding pleasure should be a priority! Pleasure and fun also stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system which also helps you feel better. If you need this to be your excuse for a monthly massage, so be it!
- Make plants a staple in your diet. Eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies. Eat a salad every day and include only foods that are grown in nature. Organic is best because it doesn’t contain as many herbicides and pesticides which are known endocrine disruptors that can negatively affect adrenal function.
- Remove food allergies. You may need the help of a functional nutritionist to help you identify food sensitivities and allergies, but once you have found and eliminated them the healing process will speed up!
- Don’t push yourself. This can be mentally, emotionally or physically. Pushing yourself beyond your limits is probably what got you here in the first place. Be kind and don’t let yourself get overworked or overtired.
- Laugh several times per day and enjoy your recovery. There is no need to be so serious! Make this journey fun. Find a relaxing hobby and make sure it helps you smile.
To help you put this into practice, here is a sample meal plan that one might follow to optimize nutrition for adrenal function.
SAMPLE MEAL PLAN FOR ADRENAL FATIGUE
- Breakfast (within 1 hour of waking): Sauteed greens (carb) and onions in 1 Tbsp coconut oil (fat) with 2 eggs (protein) or 4 oz leftover steak or chicken (protein). Seasoned with sea salt, pepper and other desired herbs. Warm lemon water. Add a side of kimchi or Beet Kvass as a fermented food bonus.
- Snack (around 9-10am): Carrots and celery sticks (carb) with 2 Tbsp almond butter (protein and fat).
- Lunch (around 12pm): Broccoli and Chicken salad with 1/2 cup brown rice, drizzle with grass-fed butter and spices. Sparkling water with lemon or decaf green tea.
- Snack (around 3pm): 1 oz Beef jerky (protein) and small handful cashews (pro/fat) and 8-10 Terra chips (carb).
- Dinner (around 6pm): Crockpot stew with more veggies than meat and a side of 3/4 cup baked sweet potato.
- Snack (8pm): Piece of fruit (carb) or whole-fat organic yogurt (carb/fat) OR avocado (fat) slices on rice crackers (carb) OR small piece of cheese (if tolerated) (pro/fat) and berries (carb).
- In bed by 10pm
It’s amazing to think that our adrenals can take so much control over our lives — especially when they are out of balance. When we allow them a chance to heal with proper nutrition, exercise, relaxation and sleep, our body’s natural rhythms will be supported and we will feel young again.
Update: I was recently introduced to an awesome website where you can learn more about adrenal fatigue and get awesome evidence-based information! Click here to check it out. They also have a great book with WAY more information than I can put into a blog post. I highly recommend.
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