In our fast-paced world, being on the go and multitasking is typical. We find ourselves gobbling down an afternoon sandwich in front of our desks or while we’re driving in our cars. While this routine might feel normal, it’s doing us more harm than good. If you’re feeling tired and stressed out each and every day, with a 3 p.m. crash, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Luckily, there are small changes you can make to get out of this funk—Your path to wellness all starts with the way you eat! We’ve rounded up the best foods, key lifestyle tips and the ultimate diet to help in treating adrenal fatigue naturally.
What is adrenal fatigue?
If you’re feeling burnt out and exhausted, you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands are your stress-coping organs, central to your hormonal system, located on top of your kidneys. With so much going on around us, we often don’t realize that subtle changes in our daily routine can upset the balance of our adrenal glands. Adrenal fatigue can manifest itself in a variety of mental, physical and emotional ways—Memory loss, anxiety, low libido, infertility, exhaustion, dry skin and thin hair.
When to eat with adrenal fatigue
Healing adrenal fatigue ultimately starts with your diet—but it’s not just what you eat, it’s also when you eat. The timing of your meals and snacks is a major part of how you feel during the day and how well you sleep at night. When eating for your adrenal health, the goal is to take the stress off of your adrenals, instead focusing on your body’s natural cortisol cycle. If you go too long without eating, your cortisol will spike in dramatic ways, causing problematic symptoms. To avoid that and keep your cortisol levels in balance, it’s best to eat three nutritious meals throughout the day and two to three snacks in between. Here’s what’s recommended:
8 a.m. or within an hour of waking up: Breakfast to help restore your blood sugar levels.
9 a.m.: A nutritious snack like a handful of nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.) to help with late-morning natural dip in cortisol.
11 a.m.-noon: Lunch. Take plenty of time to eat in a mellow setting with few distractions.
2-3 p.m.: A nutritious snack like sliced fruit or vegetables to get you ahead of that late-afternoon crash (i.e. the natural dip in your cortisols).
5-6 p.m.: Early dinner. This should be your lightest meal of the day. Overeating can lead to restless sleep.
An hour before bed: A nutritious and light snack—avoid refined carbs!
What to eat for adrenal fatigue
When we’re feeling under pressure and stressed out, we tend to make careless choices when it comes to food—from cookies and bagels, to coffee and soda. It makes sense to crave sweets when you’re under stress. It’s your body’s way of quickly responding to low blood sugar.
But eating these processed sugary foods can leave you feeling even worse. Simple carbs and sugar cause a spike in your blood sugar and then a crash. Luckily there are some simple and healthy ways to keep your blood sugar balanced—it all starts with being more intentional about the foods you eat.
Including some form of protein into your snacks and meals will help keep your blood sugar balanced and eliminate your sugar cravings. Seeds, nuts and plant proteins are great options and are key to starting your day off right.
As you work to get your adrenals in balance, opt out of gluten. You might not realize that the gluten in your diet is causing inflammation in your body. Instead, try gluten-free options like quinoa, buckwheat and wild rice and see how you feel. This elimination element of your diet is important in finding what works for you.
Limit your caffeine intake
Feel like you can’t get enough coffee? Cutting it out of your life can be challenging but makes all the difference. Caffeine can over-stimulate your adrenals and mess with your sleep. If you’re feeling burnt out, instead of reaching for another latte, opt for a short walk instead.
Pumpkin seeds (sometimes called pepitas) contain vital minerals (like magnesium and zinc) and are good sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, and omega-6 fatty acids. You can easily add these to a salad or a smoothie bowl.
While liver might not be your first choice, it’s an essential food for healing adrenal fatigue. Liver contains easily absorbed minerals, B vitamins, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Eating clean is so important when it comes to healing your adrenal fatigue. Whenever you can, try to eat organic foods without chemicals or added hormones. And when it comes to meat, grass-fed meat has more omega-3 and less omega-6 fat, creating a healthy balance for your hormones.
Since sardines are smaller, they’re less likely to contain toxins—they also happen to be a terrific source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines can be enjoyed on their own or added to a salad.
Ghee (Clarified butter)
Clarified butter is rich in cholesterol, which is a key to building your adrenals. Ghee contains balanced sources of saturated fats and will help you in combatting adrenal fatigue. Opting for ghee will let you enjoy dairy products without the inflammation.
Begin with baby steps
Changing up your lifestyle and diet can feel overwhelming, but starting with small steps will make all the difference in healing from adrenal fatigue. Find what works for you and get back to feeling like your best self.