Everyone feels tired once in a while. But some of us feel drained most of the time.
Fatigue is one of the symptoms of undiagnosed coeliac disease due to malabsorption of nutrients from foods that are consumed. Although it takes a while for the gut to heal, even when established on a gluten free diet, many of us still complain of fatigue months and years after being diagnosed. The first thing that should be done is to rule out other health problems like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, anaemia, thyroid disease, and sleep apnoea. Fatigue could also be a side effect of certain medications.
But if these have been ruled out and you still feel tired all the time, there are steps we can take to beat that fatigue. I have made a list of 5 steps below.
1.Improve your diet!
If you are reading this, chances are you are following a gluten free diet due to coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity.
The first step you should take towards improving your energy levels is a change in your gluten free diet. Limit those high- calorie and highly processed, sugar laden, gluten free packaged foods, and opt for a balanced diet including foods that are high in nutrition alongside relatively few fats and calories. And drink lots of water!
Start your day with a serving of protein. Eating protein is essential for staving off fatigue, especially early in the day when your cortisol levels are high. If you eat only carbohydrates, you will crash early and hard. Foods that are high in protein that are suitable for breakfast include eggs (especially egg whites), milk, soymilk, yoghurt, and cheese (low fat mozzarella and cottage cheese contain the highest protein per calorie). You could also eat cereals that contain quinoa and add some flaxseed, pumpkin or sunflower seeds to the bowl.
Avoiding wheat, barley and rye on the gluten-free diet means that you are eating fewer products enriched with nutrients, which may lead to deficiencies in iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Some great foods that contain these essential nutrients include, avocado, chickpeas, eggs, fish like salmon and tuna, flaxseeds and flax oil, lentils, spinach, tofu and plain low fat yoghurt. Others include almonds, artichokes, broccoli, oranges, papaya, peanut butter, sunflower seeds and turkey.
Another symptom of coeliac disease is anaemia. Iron-deficiency anaemia is the most common form of anemia. It is a decrease in the number of red blood cells caused by too little iron. Without sufficient iron, your body cannot produce enough haemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that makes it possible for them to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. As a result, one would feel weak, tired, and irritable. Animal sources of iron are better absorbed than iron from plant sources. Good sources of iron from animal sources include red meat and liver (not suitable for pregnant women).Some of the foods mentioned above are high in iron, but other non animal sources of iron include
- leafy green vegetables
- pulses (peas, beans and lentils)
- dried fruit, such as raisins, apricots, figs
- nuts and seeds
To improve absorption of iron, drink fruit juice rich in vitamin C, and include fresh leafy green vegetables, potatoes and fruit (especially citrus fruits) with meals.
If your symptoms do not improve, you should speak to your GP or dietitian about including a supplement to your diet.
2. Intoroduce healthy snacks or eat regularly!
You should aim to eat small amounts every three to four hours to keep your blood sugar levels up, and to avoid over eating at mealtimes. Try to choose foods that are high in protein and fibre. Blood sugar control is especially important if you suffer from diabetes together with coeliac disease- if you do suffer from diabetes it is important to make a diabetes meal plan with help from your health care team.
3. Get Moving!
Researchers say that all people, from sedentary to active, to people dealing with an illness, benefit in the long run from increased energy levels when they exercise. Although the last thing anybody wants to do when they are fatigued is exercise, just get up from that sofa, lace up your exercise shoes and go and do some physical activity. Even a brisk walk or some gardening may do the trick!
4. Get enough sleep!
7-8 hours of night time sleep should be your goal. Try not to exercise late in the evening and remove that TV from your bedroom to get a better night’s sleep.
5. Try to lose excess weight!
Most weight loss experts recommend cutting back on portion sizes, eating balanced meals, and increasing physical activity. All these factors have been mentioned in points 1-4 above. So changing your diet and improving your activity level should automatically cause you to shed those extra kilos.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/306/453957521/”>*vlad*</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lekke/55923139/”>Lekke</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>