It’s been 3 months since I learned that I have adrenal fatigue. Since that time I feel like life has been swirling around me so rapidly I cannot keep up with its force.
As I sit and write this to you today I am ensconced in my new office, at my new desk that I proudly thrifted for $35, with a beaming headache that has been an occasional friend since the onset of my adrenal fatigue about a year ago. Beyond the headache however, I am getting so much better.
This week, I’ve been feeling an urge to share with you exactly what has been helping and working for me since I first learned about adrenal fatigue. There’s been some things that have made little difference, and other things that have made a huge difference.
Here they are. I hope they help you, too.
One of the first things I was told was that adrenal glands require an enormous amount of protein, 20g per meal to be exact, to be supported. This is a challenge for me as I don’t like beans and legumes and rarely eat meat. What I did do was purchase Vega One, a vegan protein and greens powder that was recommended to me, which has made getting enough daily protein much easier.
I cold-turkey quit all caffeinated drinks. It had to happen if I want to heal, which I do. While I only had coffee occasionally, even that was too much. I tried having matcha instead to no avail. It made me feel frantic and kept me awake at night. I do still sometimes have some chocolate or make a hot cocoa.
It was also strongly suggested that I start to eat breakfast every day 1.5 hours within waking up. I have always been a chronic meal-skipper, breakfast being the one that was left out most often so I had to change my approach to nourishing myself. Apparently when we skip meals it sends our adrenals a message that we are starving or in danger and woah there goes the adrenalin rush to keep us going. Not good.
On that same note, what I was eating had to change. I love to snack on raw fruit and vegetables, so much so, that my food intake centred on raw fruit and vegetables. It turns out however, that I could not have been doing anything worse. My body type is on the more delicate end of the spectrum as is my digestion and my body simply cannot handle breaking down so much raw food, so much so that it added stress to my adrenals. I had to start eating more cooked vegetables, preferably at every meal, and no fruit. I don’t do this all the time, but I try.
Here is what my meals look like, on a daily basis (except for when I get tacos or burritos from Senor Froggies):
- Smoothie: 1 scoop of vega one, handful of spinach, half an avocado, blended with a glass of water.
- Hot oatmeal cooked in water with banana and cinnamon, drizzled with maple syrup and almond milk.
- Sourdough toast with avocado, salt and pepper.
- Sautéed vegetables with fried eggs.
- Steamed leafy greens with poached eggs, olive oil and salt.
- Open sourdough salad and egg sandwich.
- Salad with omelette.
- Vegetable lasagna.
- Kitchari (slow-cooked Indian lentil and rice dish).
- Shakshuka (Israeli tomato and egg dish) served with sourdough.
- Soups of all kinds, I am trying to use bone broth when we have it.
- Crispy potatoes or sweet potato fries and salad.
- Rice or quinoa with sautéed vegetables.
- Apple pieces with nut butter.
- Hot cocoa: half a teaspoon of raw cacao, two heaped teaspoons of collagen powder, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a spoon of raw honey, topped with hot water and a splash of almond milk.
- Hot or cold turmeric latte: teaspoon of turmeric, a dash of ginger powder, teaspoon of coconut oil, two heaped teaspoons of collagen powder, teaspoon of honey and a cup of almond milk either heated in a saucepan or blended in a blender.
The biggest lifestyle change I’ve made is to prioritize sleep. I’ve learned that the fastest way to heal adrenal fatigue is to give yourself permission to sleep and rest as much as possible. While this has been a challenge at times, there’s so much to do!, it’s also the one thing that is making the biggest impact in me feeling better.
When I’m tired I rest. I give myself permission to take naps whenever I need them. And I try to make sure I am in bed by 10pm every night. It’s not always possible, but sleep takes precedence over most other plans now. Yesterday I napped for 2 hours and then went to bed by 10pm and it felt amazing. My quality of sleep has improved since I’ve implemented more sleep into my life. All in all, it’s been the best thing yet.
Exercise is still important, but I don’t push myself. My aim is to walk for at least 45 minutes and do either yoga or strength training every day. Some days it happens, other days I only do one of the three, and sometimes I let it go and rest instead. I’m approaching my body and how I feel very intuitively and gently at the moment.
In general I am not pushing myself much at the moment. If I need time, I give it to myself. It’s a practice in trust that everything will get done and will work out, and so far it’s working. Trust is such a beautiful thing to lean on.
I was prescribed Vitex to help regulate my hormones that had been affected by the adrenal fatigue. The impact wasn’t instant, but after my 3rd and most recent cycle I noticed a distinct change in PMS symptoms: I didn’t have the same spotting and pains that I had prior to my periods anymore. My cycles still aren’t totally regular and that’s ok. There’s been so much happening in my life the past 3 months: I moved house 3 times, flew to London for 2 weeks and went on 2 road trips. All while running my business full-time. There really wasn’t much space for my body to find its rhythm in that time.
I was given a Skullcap tincture from my naturopath which is supposed to calm the central nervous system and help the adrenals feel safe and secure so they can heal. I did not feel much change from this, but I also always forgot about the second set of drops I was supposed to take. Maybe that would have made the difference.
I took 1000mg of Magnesium in tablet form to help calm nerves and anxiety and help my sleep as one of the effects of adrenal fatigue is night-time cortisol spikes that wake you up and frenzy and keep you awake.
I was dealing with was hormonal acne which affected my self-esteem more than anything and after some research invested in good-quality Lysine and Evening Primrose Oil which I take at night just before bed. Within days my skin cleared up and I found myself craving the Evening Primrose Oil which tells me that it contains something that my body really needs right now. I take 1000mg of the Lysine and 2000 – 4000mg of the Evening Primrose Oil daily, depending on how I feel and how many other good fats I have had.
I’ve had a couple of acupuncture sessions. Each treatment was wildly different and put me out of action for at least 24 hours afterwards. I can feel that they work quite deeply on my central nervous system and adrenals. They are something that I will continue to keep having.
I’ve booked myself in for a session at the local float tank. The aim is to find things that are deeply relaxing and restorative to help my adrenals to stop freaking out. I’ll report back on how that goes.