It goes by many names: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), myaligic encephalomyelitis (ME). Whatever you want to call it, it requires lifestyle changes to cope, and bed rest is not a quick fix for those that are truly afflicted. If you have this condition, you know who you are! You may also remember your life before the condition and after, that red line of health and when it was crossed and what triggered your seemingly endless fatigue. This condition may also be associated with fibromyalgia.
Here are some tried and true tips to help this condition:
Manage your weight. Under the circumstance, this can be a huge challenge. If you are needing to pace yourself with rest (which is how most people cope), then you will be sitting more. This means that your overall calorie intake needs to be vested in nutrient rich foods that do NOT also yield a lot of calories. It’s amazing what a difference there is in terms of calorie burn on days you are mostly sitting vs. being able to walk around all day when you may be feeling more normal.
I am a huge fan of fitness trackers for just this reason. Knowing real time energy output on bad days and then better days, helps immensely in weight management. By looking at the data, one’s food consumption can be adjusted accordingly. Remember that to maintain weight, calories consumed must match calories burned!
Do eat a nutrient dense diet. Your calories need to “count” from a nutritional standpoint because there may not be a lot of discretionary calories for you to be eating if you are burning few calories due to your fatigue and limited activity. The better quality diet will only increase your chances of feeling better. There’s no guarantee, but it can’t hurt.
Too tired to prepare food? Never cook for only one meal. Double batch and use your freezer. Don’t be afraid of a frozen meal such as Healthy Choice brand meals. I guarantee they are healthier than that fast food or take out meal you might eat because you are too tired to deal with dinner!
Consider certain supplements. The condition remains one that the established medical community cannot open a text book and find solid direction on how to treat. With that said, there are a few supplements that may be helpful. Consider CoEnzymeQ10, D-ribose, and probably a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. I don’t uniformly recommend the latter to patients, but when calories need to be restricted to manage weight, it is not a bad idea in my opinion. The CoQ10 and D-ribose are tied in with our biochemical energy cycle, and I personally find them to be helpful.
Know your boundaries. While boundary setting is not necessarily a nutrition tip, it is an important lifestyle tip. Learn to say “no” if you feel it will compromise your health. Many of us are so eager to be normal, that it is very easy to overdue it when we feel on the normal end of the spectrum. Both mental and physical pacing need to be first and center in your life. If you are reading this, you are probably all too familiar with the “crash and burn” cycle of both chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Doing too much at a time can result in being a limp rag doll later. Best to manage that precious resource called energy and pace yourself all day and every day-even when you may be feeling “normal”.
What tips can you share to live your best life?