Here’s What Happened When I Ate an Adrenal Fatigue Diet for a Month

Adrenal fatigue syndrome is a relatively modern diagnosis surrounded by controversy. Your adrenal glands sit above your kidneys and secrete hormones to help you deal with stress. But, in our chronically stress-filled lives, our adrenal glands rarely get a break. Many alternative health practitioners suggest this constant drain on the adrenal glands can impair their function over time.

This theory is not supported by the main-stream medical community, which states there is no scientific evidence to support the concept of adrenal fatigue. In addition, adrenal fatigue is said to cause general symptoms, such as sleeping problems, low energy, brain fog and anxiety, that are difficult to associate with one particular condition

Personally, I had been experiencing some of these symptoms since I gave birth to my son two years ago. Having a new baby and all the life changes that go with it can be a stressful time. But, even though my life was becoming more settled by the time my son turned two, I still regularly felt exhausted and had other symptoms that matched the description of adrenal fatigue.

After some research, I found out that improving your diet is one of the most important recommendations for dealing with adrenal fatigue. I decided that trying an adrenal fatigue diet for a month couldnít hurt, regardless of whether or not the condition is real. This is how my month went.

Related: Are You Experiencing Adrenal Fatigue?

MY HEALTH BEFORE THE DIET

In her book Are You Tired and Wired?, nurse practitioner Marcelle Pick describes the physical and psychological symptoms that can accompany adrenal fatigue. I was struggling with a few of them.

  • Sleep problems Ė My son was a terrible sleeper for his first year. But even as he started to gradually sleep better, I didnít. I would often lie awake for long periods or wake up frequently during the night.
  • Low energy and motivation Ė Getting out of bed in the morning was hard enough, but sometimes even basic household tasks felt like climbing a mountain.
  • Brain fog Ė I would often have a hard time concentrating or maintaining focus.
  • Feeling overwhelmed Ė Some days I would find myself feeling stressed for no apparent reason and simply not knowing what direction to go in next.
  • Headaches Ė I was having at least one headache a month before I started the adrenal fatigue diet.
  • Food cravings Ė I was getting into the bad habit of reaching for sugary or starchy snacks throughout the day when I felt my energy flagging. And boiling pasta was becoming a much easier dinner than preparing a proper meal.

WHAT I DID

Iím vegetarian and eat a fairly whole-foods diet overall, but I had definitely been slipping into some bad habits and eating too much processed food. In his book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, naturopathic doctor James Wilson describes two key components of a diet to heal adrenal fatigue.

The first is eating a well-balanced range of whole foods that are high in nutrients to replenish your body. The second is limiting foods that have a high glycemic index and spike your blood sugar. These blood sugar spikes help give you energy in the moment, but the eventual crash puts you on an energy roller coaster.

What Marcelle Pick and James Wilson both did not recommend was a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. I found a few questionable websites that suggested this approach for adrenal fatigue, but a high-protein, low-carb diet has actually been linked to certain health risks, so I ruled it out. Instead, I stuck with a balanced, primarily plant-based, diet that included all food groups.

With these recommendations in mind, I made the following changes to my diet.

  • Included more vegetables Ė James Wilson recommended eating 6 to 8 servings of vegetables per day. I didnít keep track of my exact servings because I wanted to keep things simple, but I purposefully included more vegetables at most meals. I also made myself a green juice every day.
  • Cut out processed sugar Ė I stopped eating any sweets, granola bars or other products with obvious sugar added. I still added a bit of maple syrup to a bowl of oatmeal here and there, but any refined sugar was out.
  • Cut out flour products Ė I didnít eat bread, pasta, crackers or anything made with flour for the month. Flours tend to have a higher glycemic index than whole grains. So, instead of having pasta, I would steam a whole grain as a side dish, such as buckwheat, brown rice or quinoa.
  • No caffeine or alcohol Ė This wasnít a big one for me because I already donít drink tea, coffee or alcohol. But I sometimes ate chocolate, which I cut out for the month.

WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE MONTH

1. Energy Levels

Within the first few days of the diet, my energy levels stabilized. Most likely because I stopped eating the sugary snacks, I stopped having energy peaks and crashes throughout the day. My energy became much more even and dependable, which was a great change.

2. Concentration Ability

As my energy improved, so did my ability to concentrate and focus. During the first week of the diet, I started using a bullet journal to get more organized. Iíd wanted to do this for a while, but never had the energy. Once I had my bullet journal set up, it really helped me become more productive. I finally started getting things done that had been on my To Do List for way too long.

3. Feelings of Overwhelm

Nothing in my life changed other than my diet, but even in the first week, I was somehow feeling less overwhelmed and finding more time for tasks that I had been putting off. It probably had a lot to do with my brain fog lifting and being able to think clearly again.

4. Dental Health

I had an ongoing issue of my gums bleeding around my back teeth when I flossed. My dentist said it was because the back teeth are hard to clean, so bacteria would build up and cause inflammation. But I brushed twice a day and took care of my teeth, so this never made sense to me. In the third week of my diet, the bleeding completely stopped. Had it been sugar causing the gum inflammation? Whatever it was, my gums have not bled since.

5. Immune Function

My son and husband got a cold during the second week of my diet. I had a slight sore throat, but I never had a runny nose or other symptoms like they did.

6. Food Cravings

The first week was the toughest for cravings. Even once my energy had stabilized and I wasnít having energy slumps, I would still often want a sugary snack in the late afternoon. It felt like I had a mental habit of snacking when I didnít even need to. During the second week, I noticed I was feeling hungry more often. Perhaps I was starting to pay attention to my bodyís cues rather than unconsciously reaching for snacks.

7. Sleep Quality

This was one of the last issues to shift. After about 3 weeks on the diet, I started to sleep longer periods during the night and didnít have as many wake-ups. Some days when I woke up, I actually felt like I had slept. That was a significant improvement over feeling like a zombie every morning.

8. Headaches

At the end of the month, I hadnít had a single headache. And I haven’t had one since.

LIFE AFTER THE DIET

As I write this, itís been about 6 weeks since I started my adrenal fatigue diet. It was supposed to only last a month, but now I that Iím feeling better, I donít want go back to how I used to eat. Iím amazed at how some relatively small adjustments to my diet made such big changes in my life. And all in less than a month.

Recently, Iíve experimented with re-introducing a few foods that contain flour or sugar, and I often feel a bit more sluggish the next day, or I canít concentrate as well. This could be a total coincidence, but I suspect those high-glycemic foods are the culprits. I wonít be as strict as I was on the diet from now on, but the majority of the improvements I made to my diet are going to be permanent.

If youíre considering trying an adrenal fatigue diet, or simply trying to eat better, I would highly recommend giving it a try for one month. It made a huge difference in my life, and I hope it does in your life, too.

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64 comments

Rauni H
Rauni H6 hours ago

thanks

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Frances G
Frances Gyesterday

thanks

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Janis K
Janis K2 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Olivia M
Olivia M2 days ago

Thank you

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Lesa D
Lesa D3 days ago

thank you Zoe...

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Caitlin L
Caitlin L3 days ago

thanks for posting

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Kathy K
Kathy K3 days ago

Interesting. Thanks.

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Danny C
Danny C6 days ago

Overall I found that cutting meat out of my diet helped immensely with my energy levels. Thank you for sharing. :-)

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hELEN hEARFIELD
hELEN h7 days ago

tyfs

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson7 days ago

Thank you.

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