My last post gave you information on how to set up a journal. Hopefully you found the information helpful and you are putting this into practice. I will come back to the journal in the future to explain how to use the information you are recording in your journal. For now, as promised we are going to talk about nutrition.

Develop the best “Food Attitude”

When I refer to nutrition, I am talking about the natural medicine we put into our body every day. Have you ever considered food medicine? If not, you are not alone. Most of us think of food as the thing that satisfies our taste buds. We eat to bring us feelings of pleasure and to satisfy a hunger (sometimes physical hunger and sometimes “emotional hunger”). However, if you are someone who struggles with fatigue, I challenge you to put food in another category… sustaining nourishment. For some of you, I just took all the fun out of eating, and thats ok, for now.  Adopting this view on food may be the very thing that gives you the control you desire to combat your fatigue.

Why am I spending so much time writing about how we ALL (me included) view food? Why am I not getting right into “nutrition tips”? Because I am confident your google search will give you that answer. However, learning a checklist of “good foods” and “bad foods” is only a small portion of the solution.

The reality is, food satisfies. It satisfies (or so you think) when you feel angry, sad, depressed, and most important, when you feel tired. And there lies the problem and the reason why many of my patients RUN from the topic of nutrition and why I am challenging you to start viewing food differently. Food as medicine, gives you power over your fatigue every time you make a food choice from here on out.

To really start transforming your thinking around food, I am going to help you out with my thoughts on food and why I think making better food choices will make a dramatic difference in your battle over fatigue.

Food is the fuel that helps your body to function. High quality “fuel” helps your body to run more efficiently. Some literature also shows that choosing the right foods can decrease inflammation, and prevent disease. A good nutrition plan can help to create the best environment for the cells in your body to thrive.

Free Radicals Versus Antioxidants

Lets start with understanding free radicals, anti oxidants and oxidative stress.

Video explaining oxidative stress

What is  a Free Radical?

An unstable molecule that is involved in many cellular processes in the human body. At extremely high levels, free radicals have the potential to harm cells.

What is an Antioxidant?

An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation (one way our bodies form free radicals) of other molecules. In other words, antioxidants help to block the production of free radicals.

How does nutrition relate to disease?

As the video depicts, when free radicals outnumber antioxidants in certain cells in the body, the result is oxidative stress, linked to cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, stroke, age related diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.

How can food choices decrease oxidative stress?

Eating foods high in antioxidants may help to reduce the number of free radicals in certain cells of the body. To get you started, I will share a few tips i give to my patients. Each meal is an opportunity to fill your body with antioxidants. Keep in mind, eating is not right versus wrong, or good versus bad. Eating is a balance sheet. Foods rich in anti oxidants add more value to your body versus foods with little or no nutritional value.  You may start with just one meal a day where you choose to make better food choices. Great! your body is thanking you. Changing food habits is a journey and not a destination. Keep moving in the direction of adding more nutrient dense foods to your diet and your body will thank you with more energy.

Nutrition Tips

1. Fresh is best: foods close to their natural state will give you the most “bang for your buck” as far as the value of the nutrients and the antioxidants contained in the food item.

Examples: For instance, olive oil, cayenne pepper, and many other spices are extremely high in antioxidants, however, they lose this value once they are heated. This is also true with fruits and veggies. Yes, this means apples in apple pie do not count as a serving of nutrient dense fruit 🙂

2. Create Colorful Plates: Dark and bright colored fruits and veggies are sure to give you many key nutrients and are typically high in anti oxidants.

3. Search for Seeds: fruits with seeds (For example, strawberries) contain high amounts of anti oxidants

4. Choose Balance: Our bodies need ALL food groups. This includes fat, protein, and carbohydrates (Macronutrients). Try to avoid diet plans that restrict a certain food group. The key is portions.

Additional Reading