By Jill Osborne MA

Are you struggling with fatigue?? In need of energy to make it through the day? If you’re like many, you may have relied caffeine and fast carbs for a quick energy boost. The problem? They’ll give you a quick burst of energy but two hours later leave you feeling tired, brain fogged and craving yet more carbs. Maintaining steady and consistent energy levels require eating less rapidly digested carbs (sugars, breads, pastas) and more proteins and healthy fats. The goal is to avoid the rapid blood sugar fluctuations that steal your energy.

But here’s another tidbit you might not know. Chronic fatigue has been linked to high levels of inflammation in the body, thus eating foods which fight inflammation (i.e. antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids) can also help! Here are foods that can have you running on cruise control all day long!

fatiguefightingfoods-greenWATER – Get into the habit of drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Why? Mild dehydration has been linked to a reduction in mood, energy levels and mental functioning! When you start craving sugar, drink a glass of water first!

EGGS – Start your day with eggs! This high protein food provides essential B vitamins and choline, a substance critical in reducing inflammation throughout the body. Choline helps boost brain health and functioning. It is also used to make acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter in our nervous system. Anything that improves both brain and nerve function can help us be more alert.

WHOLE GRAINS – Unlike white bread, whole grains contain complex carbohydrates which release energy throughout the day! If you struggle with gluten sensitivity, look for the many, new gluten free breads on the market today!

BLUEBERRIES – Loaded with antioxidants, blueberries are a staple in most IC patients diets. A study published in the Annals of Neurology suggests that antioxidant-rich blueberries can reduce cognitive decline in older adults by up to 2.5 years. Antioxidants help with cognitive function and mental agility! The great news is that they are low in sugar, making them an excellent snack for diabetics as well.

ALMONDS – Bladder and stomach friendly, almonds are high in protein, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, magnesium, vitamin E and calcisum. Eating almonds can help fight inflammation, lower LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure and sustain energy throughout the day.

POPCORN – High in fiber, low in calories, homemade popcorn is a healthier snack and a great source of energy! Avoid the prepackaged, sweet or flavored popcorns that contain high amounts of sugar and, worse, artificial colorings and flavorings!

BROCCOLI & SPINACH – High in vitamin C, lutein, beta carotene and fiber, broccoli contains potent anti-flammatory and antioxidants. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, iron, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, zinc, niacin and riboflavin.

SWEET POTATOES – Sweet potatoes contain mostly complex carbohydrates that don’t cause sudden spikes in blood sugar. High in fiber, B6, C, E, folate and potassium, sweet potatoes make an excellent snack, such as Danielle’s organic sweet potato chips!

SALMON – Salmon contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids which have a potent anti-inflammatory effect. Eating salmon and other Omega-3 foods ell known to elevate your mood and fight depression.

GRASS FED BEEF – Unlike beef fed on grains, grass-fed beef is leaner, richer in protein, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fats. Beef is also the best form of iron in our diet.

LOW ACID COFFEE’s – Coffee is popular for a reason, it can help increase energy and alertness when used in SMALL quantities and without the sugar or milk based flavorings. The challenge is that it’s relying on chemistry rather than good nutrition to maintain your health. If you have to use it, use a very small mount, preferably a LOW ACID coffee with Prelief instead!

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Are sick and tired of being tired?

– By Julie Beyer RD

There are many things that can contribute to fatigue when you have a chronic illness. The quality of sleep is compromised if you are waking up several times a night in pain. Many of the medications patients use, including narcotics, anti-anxiety medications, and antihistamines cause drowsiness. Thus your first stop may be a frank and honest discussion with your physician about your health and medications use. Are there other medications that might help which cause less fatigue? It’s worth asking about!

Here are more tips to help you fight fatigue!

Nurture a positive attitude about giving up caffeine. Remind yourself that this is something you can control, unlike many other aspects of your disease. Of course, in time, you may be able to add some caffeinated products back in. But once you kick the habit, why would you?

Establish regular sleep habits. Most people, sick or not, require at least 8 hours of sleep at night. If you know you will be waking several times a night, plan to “sleep” even longer. (If you suffer from GERD, raising the head of your bed 3 or 4 inches can help!)

Take mini-naps during the day if necessary. Find a quiet place to lay your head down for a few minutes. Set the alarm on your cell phone for 15 to 20 minutes. When you consider that you are much more alert after these mini-naps and can accomplish more, the time invested is worth it.

Eat smaller, well-balanced, low-fat meals. High calorie meals can slow even the healthiest person down as the body diverts energy to the process of digestion. Have a handful of high protein nuts or vitamin packed carrots as an afternoon snack instead of a handful of sugar cookies. Make sure you are getting plenty of energy packed fruits and vegetables. Don’t eat close to bedtime.

Use a small personal fan in your workspace. The cool air movement can keep you feeling more alert.

Expose yourself to bright lights. If you have a choice, move your desk near a sunny window. If that isn’t possible, ask to have brighter lights installed in at least part of your workspace.

Use citrus scented hand lotions. That burst of citrus as you moisturize your hands can wake you right up! I have citrus lotions all over the place, in my home, in my car, and in my purse. You can find them in specialty stores like Bath and Body Works, Body Shop (try the Bergamot), and William Sonoma. Lotions with a strong minty scent work well too!

Watch your posture. Sit up tall! Don’t make your lungs and heart work harder than they have to. Just sitting tall can give you the feeling of having more energy.

Get regular exercise. One of the first things we are tempted to give up when we are tired is exercise, when that is the opposite of what we should do! As you make the rest of your body stronger, it becomes more efficient at accomplishing everyday tasks. In fact, people who are fit often report needing less sleep than their out-of-shape neighbors do.

– Finally, find a way to stimulate your funny bone. Many times when we live with a chronic illness, we forget to enjoy some of the simpler things in life. Watch funny television shows and movies instead of draining yourself with emotional dramas. Subscribe to a joke of the day to greet you each morning in your email. Find an excuse to laugh every day!

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About The Authors

Julie Beyer MA, RDN is an internationally recognized expert on diet and interstitial cystitis. She is a dual graduate from Michigan State University with a Master’s degree in Health Communications and serves on the faculty of the University of Phoenix. Drawing on her personal experience with interstitial cystitis and her professional expertise as a registered dietitian, Julie is the author of three books about IC.

Jill Osborne MA is the president and founder of the Interstitial Cystitis Network, a health education company dedicated to interstitial cystitis, bladder pain syndrome and other pelvic pain disorders. Representing the IC community, she has appeared radio and TV shows including the PBS “Healthy Body Healthy Mind” television series. She serves as editor of the IC Optimist quarterly magazine and has authored dozens of articles on IC. She spends the majority of her time developing new, internet based educational and support tools for IC patients, including the “Living with IC” video series currently on YouTube and the ICN Food List iPhone app!

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Our Generous Sponsor

The IC Diet Project is made possible by the generous support of AkPharma, Makers of Prelief.  Prelief is an acid reducing food supplement that can help you enjoy some of the foods that you may be missing!  Prelief even takes the acid out of favorite foods containing “hidden” acid you aren’t aware of, like chocolate, baked beans, sherbets, yogurt and too many others to even name. Try Prelief for a week or two and see if there isn’t a difference you can feel. Buy it now!