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 in order to cope. And, clearly 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. There was that distinct little red line of health which was crossed and then, at some point, triggered your seemingly endless fatigue.
Tips for managing chronic fatigue
1. Manage weight for chronic fatigue
Under the circumstance, this can be a huge challenge. If you are needing to pace yourself with rest, then you will be sitting more. Eating more nutrient rich low calorie foods will be your tool for weight management. 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 feel better. It’s important to match your calorie intake with calorie output.
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. The fitness tracker can guide you on how much you can eat on a given day based on your calorie burn. Looking at your calorie output and then matching your calorie intake to that output will maintain your weight. If you eat less than that calorie burn, you will lose weight. If you eat more than your calorie burn, you will gain weight. Here are some additional dietitian recommended steps for weight management that could help with long-term weight control when battling chronic fatigue.
2. 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. Here are some important nutrition tips on how to really improve your diet.
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® meals. They are always going to be healthier than what you might grab at a restaurant.
3. 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 (purchasing tips). I don’t uniformly recommend the latter to patients, but when calories need to be restricted for manage weight, it’s 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. Other research has suggested a daily dosage of 200 mg CoQ10 and 20 mg of NADH twice a day as being therapeutic for symptoms.
4. Manage fatigue with boundary setting
While boundary setting is not necessarily a nutrition tip, it’s 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’s very easy to overdo 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”.
Managing weight with a good quality diet is key for self-care under any circumstances. Research has indicated that in addition to a good quality diet, some supplements may be helpful. Setting mental and physical boundaries is also key in helping conserve energy in order to avoid the “crash and burn” cycle from overdoing it when having a better day.
What tips can you share to live your best life?