If you’ve struggled with adrenal fatigue, food as medicine is a primary component of your health journey. This time of year is often when many health issues, including adrenal fatigue, appear to flare up. Why?
One common reason is that our food choices often differ this time of year. When we’re out of our regular routine, it can be harder to support adrenal function. Perhaps you were limiting gluten, dairy, or soy while also trying to focus on including more nutrient-dense, and anti-inflammatory meals.
With a line up of holiday meals, it can be tricky to stick with your regularly balanced plan. If this rings true to you, don’t fret! Keep on reading for our roadmap to optimal adrenal health during the holidays.
1. Develop a (minimal) meal plan.
While a full day-by-day meal plan may not be realistic some weeks of the holidays, keeping a basic meal plan will ensure you still have meals and ingredients on hand that provide nutrient-dense foods. Develop a list of easy meals you can make throughout the week. Shop for these staples and prep anything you need for the week on Sunday. This way you can grab and go throughout the week.
2. Don’t eliminate carbs from your diet.
Low carbohydrate diets have been shown to be a stressor on our adrenals.
If your body requires more energy, it will either burn carbohydrates (glucose) or fat (ketones), depending on what’s available. If you don’t have enough carbohydrates, and you are not in ketosis, your body will break down protein to yield the required glucose needed for energy production. What hormone is called upon to convert protein into energy-generating glucose? You guessed it—cortisol.
By increasing the need for cortisol (to generate new glucose), a low carbohydrate diet can put more stress on adrenals that are already fatigued. That means ensuring you have enough carbohydrates in your diet is essential for regulating cortisol production and supporting your adrenal glands.
3. Keep your fridge (and pantry) stocked with adrenal-supporting foods.
An adrenal-supportive diet isn’t just about the quantity of carbohydrates. It’s also important to consider the quality of carbohydrates and the timing of when you’re eating them throughout the day. Choosing high fiber carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables provide the essential nutrients needed to support proper adrenal function. Additionally, the fiber also helps slow the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, thus keeping blood sugar more stable.
4. Pay attention to your meal schedule.
Another way to balance blood sugar is to make sure carbohydrates are paired with protein and/or fat at every meal and snack. Spacing carbohydrates out throughout the day is also important for adrenal function. This prevents blood sugar from dipping too low, which will also increase demand on the adrenals to release cortisol.
Eating quality carbs in balance with protein and fats can be supportive of both your adrenals and your mood, helping to regulate your body’s ability to stay balanced and healthy—and keep your holiday (and post-holiday) self happy.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.