Living with a chronic illness can be utterly exhausting. Symptoms like pain, digestive issues, headaches, and brain fog drain your energy, and dysfunction means simple tasks can take much longer. The stress of managing symptoms and balancing life burns a great deal of energy just getting through your day.
For some, your condition is called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For others, it’s a debilitating symptom of chronic illnesses like Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, Colitis, or Autoimmune disorders. Regardless of whether it’s a consequence of your condition or a challenging symptom, you know first-hand how difficult it is to function without energy.
So how can you increase your level of energy and combat fatigue?
Energy from Food
Food is what powers our lives and heals our bodies, but we don’t usually think of it that way. We are much more likely to grab something quick, convenient, and tasty rather than something that gives us energy and helps us heal. That is especially true if we are chronically ill and exhausted.
Of all the things I did to get my life back, changing my diet had by far the biggest impact and replacing them with foods that helped me heal turned my life around. Many of the symptoms that plagued me disappeared, others were minimized, and I actually had energy to function.
If you have a chronic illness, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating as you might be unwittingly making matters worse and draining your energy instead of creating it. If you have Celiac Disease, you already know you can’t eat gluten. For those with an inflammatory condition, you likely know certain foods, even those considered healthy can trigger your symptoms. But there is one group of foods that drain your energy regardless of your chronic illness: Processed, packaged, man-made foods.
When it comes to energy, there are a few simple rules that make life easier, no matter what dietary restrictions or food intolerances you may have.
Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
Dr. Fuhrman, creator of the Nutritarian Food Pyramid and the author of Super Immunity, The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free”, has a simple formula for calculating how nutritious foods are:
Health = Nutrients / Calories.
His Nutritarian Diet is based on choosing foods that are richest in micronutrients and have the highest nutrient density. I’ve included it in this post not to specifically recommend his protocol, but because it gives such an excellent overview of the foods we need and the amounts we should be eating them in, generally speaking.
Within those nutrient dense food categories are some real superfoods.
Superfoods are so called because they are nutrient dense, antioxidant rich foods that deliver both instant and sustained nutrition. According to Merriam Webster, “superfoods increase energy and vitality, regulate cholesterol and blood pressure and may help to prevent or fight cancer and other diseases.”
Harvard Medical School lists the following as the Top 10 Superfoods
- Leafy greens
- Olive oil
- Whole grain
- Cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and broccoli)
The high that comes when those nutrients hit your system is way more addictive than sugar. If you’ve never felt your body come alive when you eat, try adding at least one nutrient dense superfood to each meal. Better yet, gorge on an entire meal of superfoods and watch what happens!
As powerful as nutrient dense foods are though, there’s one thing that can lessen their impact and rob us of precious energy: Toxins, often in the form of pesticides and fertilizers.
The Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen
Many books have been written about the toxic effects of some of the fertilizers and pesticides used in growing our food. Chemicals like chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate used on crops to kill a number of pests, is found in harmful levels on some fruits and vegetables. This chemical has been linked to neurological effects, persistent developmental disorders, and autoimmune disorders at exposures that exceed recommended levels. Where and how our food is grown matters.
Regardless of whether a chemical is harmful or not, it takes energy to remove unusable substances from our body so it only makes sense to reduce our exposure as much as possible. Fortunately, there’s one company dedicated to helping us live healthier lives and helping us avoid unwanted toxins.
Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen. These are lists of the cleanest and most toxic fruits and vegetables. While avocados, sweetcorn, and pineapple are some of the cleanest produce when it comes to pesticides, strawberries, spinach, and kale are some of the most contaminated. This doesn’t mean we want to avoid The Dirty Dozen, but it does mean we may want to buy organic versions of produce so you don’t deplete your energy even more.
You Can Reclaim your Life
For me, exhaustion was one of the most challenging symptoms of my illness. There were times when I didn’t know if I had the energy to take another breath, much less a step. I knew exactly how many steps there were from the bedroom to my couch and from my couch to the bathroom and I made those trips the least number of times possible. Just the thought of having to move made me feel nauseous and anxious.
Removing foods that made me sick and replacing them with clean, nutrient dense foods that gave me energy and helped me heal had a huge impact on my life. My energy increased, and my function improved. When I added some stress busting TLC and learned how to manage my symptoms, I finally got my life back.
If you want to increase your energy, start adding nutrient dense superfoods free of pesticides to your diet. Track your energy levels each day using a simple one to five scale, where one is the least and five is the most energy, and all things being equal, you should see a jump in your levels.
If you want to take a closer look at what might be depleting your energy and making your life miserable, take our five minute assessment and see how you score for energy, strength, function, and stress. Then connect with us for a consultation and a personal Reset Plan. No charge. No strings attached.