Earlier this month I wrote a post about how chocolate could help chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) sufferers. I wanted to delve a little bit deeper now as this is a topic very close to my heart.
I have suffered from CFS for 6 years and have only now just started to get back on track. I want to share with you how I got better and how you can make small changes to support your body. Of course, every case of chronic fatigue will be different – and, in saying that, fatigue is something of a modern epidemic so there must be a common cause for what’s making us so tired. Here are my top tips to beat fatigue and how to nuture your body through a difficult time.
The Fuel Tank Analogy
I went to a CFS specialist a few years ago and the most valuable piece of information he gave me (although I thought nothing of it at the time) was his fuel tank analogy. It really gave me a clear comparison of how some people have boundless amounts of energy and how some people tire easily; it’s the size of their fuel tank.
Imagine you have a fuel tank and it’s divided into sections. Each person has a unique division of sections pertaining to physical and mental activities. Everyone also has different tank sizes; some large and some small.
For example, I might have a small tank with 1/3 of my fuel reserved for physical activities like running, lifting weights, cleaning the house etc. Another 1/3 of my fuel is reserved for social activities like going out for coffee and chatting on the phone. The final 1/3 might be allocated for work and study. If I use up all my fuel for physical activities, I’ll start using the fuel allocated for social outings and then once that runs out I’ll delve into the fuel reserved for other things. Once my tank is empty, I’ll crash and fatigue sets in.
The trick is knowing when you’ve hit your fuel limit and STOPPING.
Listen to your body and rest when you need to; don’t push to do more because that is how it gets worse.
Helpful Tips for Chronic Fatigue and Fatigue in General
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals during the day and make sure they contain a mix of carbohydrates and protein. This will help to balance out blood sugar levels and prevent that slump we sometimes get mid-morning/late afternoon. You could also consider having a snack in between main meals. Good choices are:
- Protein Balls
- Carrot and Celery Sticks with Hummus
- Handful of Nuts with a piece of Fruit
- A date split down the middle and filled with 1/2 tsp almond butter
- Exercise is great because it gets the heart pumping blood around the body, assisting delivery of nutrients to tissues that need them. Too much though can do the opposite in CFS so make sure you stop when you feel tired.
- Drink Licorice tea; it helps to support the endorcine system and increases cortisol levels by blocking the action of an enzyme that breaks it down. Adrenal exhaustion, which CFS sufferers tend to have (especially through times of increased stress), leads to low production of cortisol. As cortisol is our ‘awake’ hormone, licorice may be very helpful. Aveda tea is beautiful or you could try T2’s ‘Liquorice Legs‘ tea.*
- Consider taking a supplement. L-carnitine is my top pick; it transports fatty acids into the mitochondria, where it is used to make ATP (energy) making it great for boosting energy levels.
- Get your iron levels checked. Low iron is the most common cause worldwide for fatigue so it’s important to rule out a deficiency first. Iron is critical for producing hemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
Of course, each case of fatigue will be different but these are some simple ideas to get you started on the road to recovery. Sleep and rest are essential for recovery so don’t ignore the internal signals that tell you to take it easy.
I hope this post was helpful and insightful. If you have any questions, please comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy Australia Day for tomorrow! I hope you all have a relaxing long weekend.
Love Stace x
*Licorice is not reccomended for diabetics, pregnant or nursing women and people with high blood pressure.