Is It Adrenal Fatigue? Or Starvation?

by Ann Marie Michaels on February 18, 2013

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Is It Adrenal Fatigue? Or Starvation?

The following is a guest post by Amber Rogers from the Go Kaleo blog.

Do you have adrenal fatigue? Or is it possible that you are just not eating enough? The symptoms of adrenal fatigue look almost identical to the symptoms of starvation or anorexia.

Many people who find themselves drawn into novel dietary philosophies (or fad diets) have a long history of restrictive eating and weight fixation. These individuals have lost the ability to accurately gauge their hunger and satiety signals, and have frequently become conditioned to associate eating with feelings of guilt, shame and fear. Imposing further dietary restrictions on these people, as most dietary philosophies do, while ALSO telling them that calories don’t matter and to not pay attention to caloric intake, leads inevitably to a situation I’m seeing more frequently in my practice: people existing in a state of chronic semi­-starvation.

They may fill their plates up with protein and vegetables (i.e., low calorie, filling, highly thermogenic foods) and believe they are eating “a lot”, but they are, in reality, shorting themselves of the calories their bodies need in the order of hundreds or even thousands of calories a day.

Not Eating Enough Calories Slows Metabolism

There has been ample research done into what happens on a metabolic and hormonal level when a person chronically consumes fewer calories than their body requires to function optimally and maintain a healthy weight, from the Dutch Famine studies, to the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, to more contemporary research on anorexia and bulimia.

In the beginning, weight loss is the primary response. But as time goes on, several negative endocrine adaptations begin to set in. Metabolic processes slow down. Organs and muscles are catabolized for their proteins; reproductive functions are shut down, endocrine function is compromised on every level as the body loses its ability to synthesize hormones adequately; digestive function goes haywire; immunity is suppressed; blood pressure plummets and the body becomes extremely sensitive to cold; brain fog, depression, anxiety and insomnia set in; the subject develops cravings and fixations on food and eating; the body becomes unable to recover from exercise, and more. These are established symptoms of starvation, supported by decades of research.

Contrary to popular perception, “metabolism” isn’t just how many calories your body burns. Metabolism is every single chemical process of every single cell of your body.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue vs. Symptoms of Starvation

In my research I ran across an interesting research study done on high school and college students with a history of restrictive dieting. Researchers compared the students’ restrictive eating patterns and their physical and psychological symptoms with those experienced by the subjects of the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. They found that what is considered “normal dieting” is closely associated with the established health ramifications of semi­-starvation. In other words, these young people who were voluntarily restricting their eating were experiencing the same symptoms as the subjects of the Starvation Experiment.

The list of symptoms associated with starvation is strikingly similar to lists of symptoms I’ve found on various websites selling adrenal fatigue treatments. In fact, the similarities are SO striking that I made a graphic to illustrate it:

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue vs. Symptoms of Anorexia/Starvation

Click the photo to enlarge

Fad Diets Often Lead to Restricted Calories

I’m noticing a high correlation between restrictive dieting and adrenal fatigue diagnosis in my clients and readers. Most of these people aren’t consciously restricting calories, rather they’ve subscribed to one of the highly restrictive diets making the rounds of the fad diet industry right now, diets that restrict macronutrients, foods and/or entire food groups.

Dietary restrictions aren’t always a bad thing, but when they aren’t indicated as a treatment for a medical condition (i.e., when the person has no medical need for such restrictions), and especially when they are imposed on a person with established disordered eating behavior, I’m seeing them do far more harm than good.

More and more clients are coming to me exhibiting symptoms of, and frequently already having been diagnosed with, adrenal fatigue. But when I have them complete a 3-day food log, it becomes painfully obvious that these people aren’t consuming anywhere near enough calories to support their activity. They may be eating a pristinely “clean” diet, but they are starving.

I convince them to eat more, maybe add back in some foods they’ve been convinced are “unhealthy”, like oatmeal, fruit, and other energy dense foods, and suddenly their symptoms begin to resolve.

I’m not saying that all cases of adrenal fatigue are starvation, and these people are certainly ill. But I think a lot of people out there are restricting themselves into illness, and dietary philosophies that encourage hyper­focus on food quality while simultaneously dismissing the relevance of proper caloric intake are setting people up to fail. And even worse, many of the adrenal fatigue treatment protocols I see being sold online not only impose further dietary restrictions, they actively discourage any attention to caloric intake.

This is a huge mess! People exhibiting these symptoms should be increasing the variety and richness of their diets whenever possible, and ensuring that their bodies are getting not only the nutrients but also the calories necessary to support their activity and a healthy weight.

Amber Rogers of Go Kaleo

Amber of Go Kaleo, Before and After -- Click the photo to enlarge

Stop Restricting Foods, Macronutrients and Calories

To move forward, we need to find a middle ground between Food Quality and the Calories-­In­-Calories-­Out paradigm. We need to acknowledge the relevance of adequate calorie intake, we need to disassociate morality from food choices, and we need to learn to recognize and reject cultural conditioning that ties eating with feelings of shame and guilt.

Amber Rogers of Go KaleoEating a healthy amount of (mostly) healthy food will lead to a healthy weight. That is how I did it. I didn’t restrict any foods or macronutrients, or restrict my calories below what my body needs to support a healthy weight. And over time, my body gradually stabilized at the weight my healthy intake supported.

Restrictive dieting can work for some people, specifically people with a medical need for such restrictions, but for the vast majority of us simply improving the quality of our diet (more whole foods, fewer processed foods), getting regular exercise (walking is the bomb!) and giving some attention to ensuring adequate and appropriate calorie intake is all that is necessary. Playing around with extreme restriction is more likely to harm than help.

Doing Everything Wrong

According to any of the various and sundry fad diets I tried, I am doing EVERYTHING wrong.

Here’s what I eat:

  • I eat carbs. Lots of them. I have averaged 350-450 grams of carbs a day for the last 5 years.
  • I eat fat. Avocados, peanut butter, full fat dairy, full fat salad dressing, etc. Fat typically makes up 30-35% of my daily calories.
  • I eat grains. I enjoy oats, rice, corn and more. I even eat…
  • WHEAT. I bake my own bread and partake liberally of the handmade scones from my local baking co-op. I eat pancakes and waffles and sourdough.
  • I eat sugar. I have a serving or two of ice cream almost daily. I eat chocolate, and again with those scones.
  • I eat soy. Tofu and Tempeh are some of my favorite foods They are not my primary source of protein, but I do eat them regularly.
  • I also eat lots and lots of legumes. Legumes ARE my primary source of protein. Peanuts, lentils, beans, yum.
  • I eat epic amounts of fruit. During the summer it’s not uncommon for me to make an entire meal of fruit.
  • I don’t take supplements or rely on meal replacement powders or bars. I haven’t found any that rival real food for taste and nutrition.

A note from Cheeseslave: Remember, she’s not telling you this is what YOU should eat — this is just what SHE eats.

Amber Before and After

Amber of Go Kaleo, Before and After

Share Your Comments Below

Whenever I read something Amber writes, it makes me want to don my sweats and swing my kettlebell. I’m so inspired by how she has transformed her body, her health and her life by eating real food, not restricting her diet, and simply by moving, lifting heavy things, and getting enough exercise AND enough food.

On that note, I’m headed out for a walk before breakfast!

What do you think about this guest post? Please share your thoughts and experiences below in the comments.

If you have questions for Amber, please ask in the comments.

Amber of Go KaleoAbout Amber Rogers of Go Kaleo: Faced with the consequences of a lifetime of poor eating habits and inactivity, Amber Rogers overhauled her life in her mid-thirties. By making better food choices and creating a habit of regular exercise, she succeeded in reversing decades of obesity and several chronic health conditions including depression and PCOS.

Along the way, she found a new career path and these days has a thriving Personal Training and Health Coaching practice.

On her blog, Go Kaleo, she shares her story and explores the powerful relationship between physical activity and metabolic health, in all its manifestations.

Amber lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two daughters, and their rescued pit bulls, Fanny and Dexter. Her other interests include campy science fiction, reading and ice cream.

Photo credit: Flickr

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{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie February 18, 2013 at 5:23 AM

I LOVE THIS ARTICLE! While I know that eating GAPS style a few months did a lot of healing I WISH I would have read this years ago. Healthy eating is NOT skipping meals or juicing all the time. Matt Stone’s work has helped me a lot (I know you are a fan – cheeseslave) I still struggle as I am used to skipping meals (or delaying) but I am healing and learning. Thank goodness!

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Go Kaleo February 18, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Yay, I love to hear this, Jackie! Thank you for sharing your story!

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Jackie February 18, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I have never read your blog and hubs will be home in 1/2 hour. I know what I am doing tonight!!!! :) Sounds like its something that I will love and will help me go further! Thanks!

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Daniel May 12, 2014 at 8:52 PM

I just started doing the same thing. Glad I found info like this and Matt Stone. I was following the paleo routine for far too long. I was beyond the point of starvation. I’m having a real hard time putting the cals back in with all kinds of fats, carbs, sugar and proteins, but I am noticing just about all of my symptoms very slowly dissapating. Had 18 normal BM’s in 3 days (sorry if that’s TMI) but my guts are moving again! Great stuff! I shouldve listened to my grandmother and mother a long time ago. “You’re too skinny!, Eat, eat!” :)

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SauerkrautHead February 18, 2013 at 6:46 AM

This was an informative post! I like that you are willing to include things that might be “controversial” to some of your reader base. Also, I’m glad to know of Go Kaleo’s blog now. She is an interesting person! Thanks for the post.

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Nicole February 18, 2013 at 6:49 AM

I am a registered dietitian (admittedly a bit of a black sheep RD with our high butter/fat/liver consumption :), currently at home with a rapidly expanding family, and am so grateful to see this post!! I worked with many chronic dieters while practicing, and found that, though technically “overweight,” my clients were often starving themselves. I frequently discussed the Minnesota Starvation studies in order to shed some light on their “symptoms.” How refreshing to see this information in a popular blog setting. Keep up the good work – both of you!

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Ashley February 18, 2013 at 8:06 AM

Thank you for sharing this article…. I will leave at that. :)

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Debbie February 18, 2013 at 8:22 AM

oh man two of my favorite ladies working together ! Amber I love the way you tell it like it is and every post you write is inspiring!
love this article!
xo
deb

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Lolly February 18, 2013 at 8:22 AM

I found Kaleo’s blog a few weeks ago. I’m a middle-aged woman with out-of-whack hormones, overweight and verging on obese, always tired. I’ve been keeping track of calories for a couple of years, never going over 1500 calories and usually around 1200 per day. I just get bigger and feel worse. Tried interval training…gained 20 pounds. What Amber had to say about starvation made sense but it was very hard to take that step of eating more…the last thing I need is to try the next new fad and gain more weight and feel worse than I already do. Well, I took the step out of desperation. I upped my calories to 2000-2500 depending on the day and activity level. I committed to hiking four days a week and lift weights 2 days. Guess what! I did not gain weight. I’m absolutely shocked. I’ve lost some weight…not sure how much…but I’ve gone down one pants size. My menstrual cycle this month was not painful and was much easier to deal with. The best thing is that I actually have the energy to exercise and want to do it because it feels good, not because I have to which is a huge change for me. So that’s my anecdotal evidence that she is right. I know I’ve only been doing this for a few weeks but, as I had immediate positive results, I’m keeping on with it. I love the feeling of being well-nourished which, frankly, I’ve never had eating nutrient-dense food because, apparently, I wasn’t eating enough of them. So, thank you Amber! You’re my hero right now.

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Go Kaleo February 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Isn’t it amazing the difference just eating ENOUGH can make? I’m so glad you’re on a healthier track now! Keep up the good work, and keep me updated!

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Leah February 18, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Interesting but not all of it seems to apply to me. I did start to have weight issues a few years ago when I went grain free and increased my fat intake. Those things may be related. But most of my life I have eaten what I wanted and most of my life (even in high school 20 plus years ago) I have had many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. I never restricted food because I never had weight issues. I’m pretty sure I was starving myself.

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Go Kaleo February 18, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Yeah, undereating isn’t necessarily the ONLY cause of AF. Keeping track of your diet for a few days just to make sure you’re covering your bases isn’t a terrible idea though, you might notice something easily fixable. :)

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Leah February 18, 2013 at 8:42 AM

That should say “was NOT” starving myself.

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Viola Rodrigues February 18, 2013 at 9:12 AM

When i used to eat what i wanted,i was losing weight! now that ive started counting calories and restricting myself….im gaining wt,periods are painful(which never used to happen to me) and i cant recover even from walking now….so terrible…and im stuck in the eating as less as possible mindset,,,i reduce healthy whole wheat carbs and end up binging on sweets,,..yup,life is hell

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Emily @ ButterBeliever February 18, 2013 at 10:28 AM

So… you developed an eating disorder? I hope you consider seeking professional help.

The books “Health at Every Size” and “Intuitive Eating” can be useful tools as well. (And following Go Kaleo.) Hope you’re able to get well.

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Go Kaleo February 18, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Unfortunately, our diet culture has equated being aware of calorie intake with restricting calorie intake, and that’s part of the problem. They are not the same thing, but they so often are treated as synonyms. Emily’s suggestions are great. Getting out of the restriction mindset is so important. Good luck!

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Viola February 25, 2013 at 12:42 AM

i’m eating normally now, i dont have an eating disorder…just a horrible mindset…

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jmr February 18, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Interesting and thought-provoking article…thank you. I suffer from adrenal fatigue and a number of other health issues that I’ve been working to mend for several years. Early on, I was definitely starving myself because I was gaining a lot of weight and wanted to stop that. At the time, I thought the obvious solution was to diet more and more strictly and exercise for longer and longer hours. I continued getting fatter and sicker until I was bedridden. But I think the illness and adrenal fatigue came first, followed by the dieting/overexercise, followed by even worse illness and AF. Now, I eat. I eat a lot. I eat carbs, fat, grains (not gluten due to CD), starches, protein and all kinds of good stuff. I do avoid soy and I miss it, but I notice it exacerbates my condition. And I limit sugar. I’ve never liked fruit so eating a whole meal of it sounds like terrible punishment to me, but I could go for some ice cream.

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Kathy at Granny's Vital Vittles February 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Great post! I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’ve probably never eaten enough calories on a regular basis and that it has lead to my lifelong problems with systemic inflammation. That’s my working theory. I wasn’t trying to restrict calories in any way but that was the net effect of the combination of my problems eating much in one sitting and my concern with eating as clean as possible. Still working to increase the amount of food I can handle and bring my body temp up :-). Very inspiring story!

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Kristen February 18, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Well, being one who is traveling the road back to health from the perspective of extreme adrenal fatigue (understatement), I contend that starvation induces adrenal fatigue. It doesn’t merely mimic the symptoms- the two are one in the same. Stress on the body is stress. Period. Also, the adrenals are intricately connected to digestion at every point, including buoying the body when calories are restricted. The adrenals kick in to tell the liver to release glycogen stores so that one can remain alive (by keeping the blood sugar up far enough to be compatible with life) and it releases steroids that give the energy to function and to release the fat from our cells in the absence of energy-giving calories and glycogen stores (which get used up eventually). The adrenals are all about keeping us in balance and alive, dealing with the stress that is all around us, and often in us, every day, all day long- and we very often ask more of them than they can handle, causing what I believe to be AF in most people living in fast-paced cultures. If you’ve ever been to the point of having your adrenals nearly collapsing altogether, you would realize how stressful everyday life is (when there is no cushioning mechanism left to buffer the onslaught it becomes apparent just how much our adrenals go to bat for us all day long)- the visual stimulation of driving down the road on the body, the sounds of plates clanking together during dinner, the physical exertion of carrying a load of laundry to or from the washer, the “trauma” of a lovely massage that would normally be a wonderful thing. The adrenals are at work in every one of those situations (and, of course, many more- pretty much everything you do in life requires the adrenals to compensate to one degree or another). I know for me, when I don’t eat enough in a day, I pay for it that evening in the form of having my AF symptoms return that I haven’t seen for a while (in other words, it taxes my adrenals to the point that my body reverts back to a lower level of functioning again even though I’ve done the work to heal past that point overall).

So, as I read this article I believe it is not adrenal fatigue OR starvation. I believe it is adrenal fatigue because of starvation (and probably a host of other stressors that haven’t been identified or given recognition).

That is my two-cents worth on this subject :)

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Go Kaleo February 18, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Great insights, Kristen. Thank you for reading so well between the lines. :)

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Susan February 18, 2013 at 11:33 AM

OMG, Kristen!! I’ve almost killed people because of plates clanking together!! And I am as serious as a heart attack. The smallest unexpected noise can startle me to the point of almost passing out. I totally get where you are coming from.

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Jackie February 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM

the description of adrenal fatigue is so true. I remember the phone ringing and I burst into tears. so glad to not be there any longer

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Beth February 18, 2013 at 12:46 PM

What an interesting and insightful comment! Thank you! :)

I have fibromaylgia.

First, many people with fibro (including me) often have “flares” (migraines, tender points on the body, sore body, etc) when going through too much stress. And many people have developed fibromyalgia after traumatic events, as well. I wasn’t always like I am now and went through some very severe, traumatic things before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Second, one of fibromyalgia’s symptoms is getting overstimulated with loud noises, light and activity. I don’t have any issues with hearing some noises, but others drive me BATTY. And when I have too much happening, I get sore and super tired and then don’t want to do anything at all, except sit at home.

I do not deal with stress well, and when I’m too stressed out, I start getting really unfocused and confused and I can’t function much at all. OR the stress hits me a few days later in the form of a terrible migraine, sore body, and extreme fatigue.

Eating more food and carbs has helped to mitigate the symptoms quite a bit and I’m feeling sooooo much better. Exercise is also helping. I’ve been lifting heavy weights for the last 3 weeks (not over doing it) and am noticing some good changes from that.

What a cool article!

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Susan February 18, 2013 at 11:26 AM

When I was first diagnosed with AF, I sought the help of Dr. Lam who is supposed to be a god when healing AF. The first thing he did was cut out all carbs because he told me it was too much sugar. Then he cut out sugar, alcohol, coffee,fruit, and of course any little thing that had wheat in it. Which I came to find out was every product in the flippin’ store. I ate meats, eggs, dairy and veggies. I got to the point where I wanted to throw up when it was time to eat because I was just so sick of the same thing over and over and over. But I never strayed because I really thought I was healing myself. Meanwhile, I became weaker and weaker. Just putting the clean dishes away wiped me out to the point that I was gasping for air.

But then Ann Marie turned me onto Matt and I figured I had nothing to lose because what I had been doing sure wasn’t working. I think the thing he said that resonated with me the most, besides encouraging us to up our carbs, was that we spend so much time worrying -or in my case agonizing- over what we can, should, could, would eat that that process ends up being more damaging to our body than actually eating a stupid piece of cake, a cookie or shhhh! don’t let Dr. Lam hear this, a piece of toast!!!

So I eat, and then I eat some more, and then I eat more. Yes, I gained weight, and yes I felt like hell as my body healed, but I’m finally beginning to notice that I want to get up and move. I still get winded very easily, so I go nice and slow. That might only mean that I walk around my backyard a time or two, but I’m hoping by next week it will be 3 or 4. I’m just so excited that I *feel* like moving because for years I simply couldn’t move out of bed at all.

Do I like being a size 16? Hell, no! But for the first time in 4 years I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m no where near ready to go hiking or ride a bike, but I know that day is coming and that is the first time I’ve thought that in 4 years. And all this is because I frickin’ ate some ice cream. And boy, was it good!!

.

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Kristen February 18, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Wow, Susan. I’m sorry for your experience. I work with Dr Lam’s office and have had a very different experience. They have never have told me to restrict my diet to the point they apparently did with you. I developed many allergies and so, consequently, need to be on a 4-day rotation, which is severely limited because my AF has really affected my pancreas (to the point that I can’t tolerate grains except in the smallest of quantities- and fruit, too, for that matter). So, I eat a lot of fats and proteins and the things I’ve found help my body to stay balanced (re: blood sugar). But every body is different. Really sorry to hear of your negative experience, though. That stinks. I personally recommend Lam’s office to everyone because they have helped me tremendously. My healing process has been slow (slowed down due to many additional obstacles that many won’t have to deal with) and steady. My life looks pretty normal now, though i still have to make sure not to overdo it (which means a great deal more than it used to).

I hope the people you are now working with can help you along the way. It is awful, terrible, no good, *horrible* to be so low. Been there, done that and I *never* want to go back. Best wishes to you in your recovery journey.

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Kristen February 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM

I meant to add in my comment that for me, when I don’t eat enough in a day, I pay for it that evening in the form of having my AF symptoms return that I haven’t seen for a while (in other words, it taxes my adrenals to the point that my body reverts back to a lower level of functioning again even though I’ve done the work to heal past that point overall).

Also, allergies within the body (or from outer sources) call the adrenals into action as well as the myriad of other stressors in our world.

Thanks for your blog- I always enjoy it!

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Kristen February 18, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Haha. I thought I’d left off this portion to my original comments but I see that I’ve only taken up space here by posting it an additional time. That is what I get for trying to multitask while writing a response. OY! Sorry about that (blushing)

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Jenny February 18, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Like several above have already said …when I increase my food I feel better period. I have not intentionally consumed less food in many years but I am gluten intolerant so some days I just don’t eat much because I’m not hungry, busy, don’t have time to make something. I am purposely increasing my calories, not gaining but way more energy, sleeping better with dreams and able to exercise AND recover fairly quickly. Amazing ain’t it? I think we tend to think too much and make simple things hard, way to hard. Been doing that for quite awhile. Does anyone else every wonder how the human race is still around since they didn’t have near the info we have or is that the reason we have been around for millions of years! Thanks for article. Reminded me to go eat.

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Robin @ Thank Your Body February 18, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Love this! Love Go Kaleo. I grew up in the dance world where they were so strict about not eating too much. I would count calories like a maniac. I danced 8+ hours a day and fell for the low-fat diet garbage, and was doing extra work outs, too. Still overweight. Once I stopped eating processed foods, eating lots of good fats, and not caring about calories I’ve seen major improvements over the past three or so years.

I am SO against restrictive diets and calorie obsession, but I also think that I personally should track my calories for a few days because I doubt I eat enough (especially as a nursing and pregnant mom.) My problem is I just feel full easily and have a hard time wanting more food, even when I know my body needs it. Curious to see what my calories are adding up to. Looks like I may be counting for the first time in many years, but for a totally different reason. Ha!

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Kathy @ Granny's Vital Vittles February 21, 2013 at 8:23 PM

I track mine from time to time for the same reasons. I think I’m eating plenty, then I track for a few days and find it’s really too low. Reminds me to stretch and try to eat a bit more at each meal.

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Anna February 18, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Just wanted to say, I wish you had used a different photo. The woman in that photo does not look like she’s starving. She actually has a pretty healthy-looking body comp (hip bones are not showing, ribs not showing, slight belly, etc.) – yes, thin, but also healthy and strong-looking.

But I agree with all the stuff you said! Starvation is not good!

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Anna February 18, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Just to clarify, I mean the cover photo. Amber obviously is not starving either, and looks healthy!

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Ann Marie Michaels February 18, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Thanks. The image is just meant to show the female obsession with body image.

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Skye February 18, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Amazing article. Thank you, Cheeseslave, for sharing this, and thank you Go Kaleo for writing it! Love both of you. And love Matt Stone!!! : )

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AshleyL February 18, 2013 at 6:13 PM

I cannot thank you enough for this article. Over the last month, I have begun to slowly realize that I am starving myself and not eating any where near as healthy as I thought because of it. My doctor couldn’t figure out why my cortisol is so high, my adrenals are suffering and why I am so bloated/grumpy/tired/headachy everyday. My doctor had me eat Paleo for 3 months which has only made things worse. Only eating around 900 calories a day is making me sick!! Thank you Thank you for this wake up call!!

Any advice on how to up my calories. I am so used to eating such a low calorie diet.

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Ann Marie Michaels February 19, 2013 at 6:16 AM

Eat what you love. Ice cream, potato chips, cookies, whatever. If you love it, eat it and eat as much as you can. Don’t judge foods that are “unhealthy” — just for a little while, eat what you love.

It’s the Matt Stone Diet Recovery plan that helped me finally break my restrictive ways.

http://www.cheeseslave.com/dietrecovery

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Amy February 19, 2013 at 9:49 AM

I would add, try to have 3 balanced meals (some carb, protein and fat – like what our grandparents would have considered a square meal) a day providing adequate nutrition, in addition to eating what you love.

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Alicia February 18, 2013 at 8:02 PM

This is all very interesting to me. I’ve struggled all my life with weight, and I’m 33 and am pregnant with my third child. Has anyone made a change in eating while pregnant? I’m not restricting right now – I’m eating when hungry, and I think hormonally when pregnant, I feel full sooner, so I’m not eating as much at once. I have only gained 2 lb in 11 weeks of pregnancy, largely because I’m not nauseous and eating all the time (at least, that is what seemed to happen with my first when I gained 20 in the first trimester). I expect weight gain as the baby grows larger. A typical breakfast for me is sprouted toast with grass fed butter, a glass of raw milk, and two pastured eggs and as much sea salt as I want. It satisfies me.

Anyway, anyone else make changes while pregnant and/or post partum and nursing and see a difference from previous pregnancies?

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Laurel February 19, 2013 at 8:36 AM

How do we figure out what our calorie intake should be? If you just eat as much as you want, and end up obese, that isn’t good either. How do you know if you are being too restrictive?

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EmmaW February 19, 2013 at 1:29 PM

According to Gwyneth at youreatopia.com, 2500 calories a day is the minimum for the majority of woment.

http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2012/11/23/phases-of-recovery-from-a-restrictive-eating-disorder.html

If you don’t have an eating disorder, don’t let the fact that it’s aimed at people with eating disorders keep you from reading it, and the blog at large, because much of it also applies to those of us who are trapped in the never ending diet roller-coaster. Because dieting is restrictive behavior, damage to the metabolism, and other diet related symptoms, can be resolved following Gwyneth’s guidelines.

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Jahnava February 19, 2013 at 11:49 AM

I’m so glad to find this post! I have PCOS and was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue by my RE a few months ago. I’ve been a lifelong vegetarian eating natural foods until college, when I started watching my “calories” and wouldn’t you know it, I started packing on the weight. I am one of those people who skips meals and snacks and goes for junk out of convenience, but I’ve begun making changes: choosing fresh foods, keeping raw nuts in my desk for an easy snack, using natural butter instead of margarine when cooking, and most of all, making those same changes for my son. I’m working on my husband next. :)

One thing I have pointed out to my friends who have done Weight Watchers is that WW is very emphatic that you meet your daily points intake. That even if you want to limit yourself to 20 points, if you are supposed to take in 27, you take in 27. Though they encourage their processed, prepackaged meals, the concept is similar – your metabolism works best when it is fed. Your body needs fuel to burn.

Thank you so much for this post, and I will certainly be following your blog now.

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Jamie February 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I am very petite (usually wear a size 00) and have always had a hearty appetite and lots of energy. Real food — butter, steak, organ meats, eggs, veggies, sweet potatoes, raw milk — really gives me energy. However, I never crave processed foods, desserts, candies, etc. Some people are amazed at the amount of food I can eat in one sitting, even though I am not one to snack throughout the day. (I typically eat 2 or 3 times per day, as dictated by my hunger signals.) My opinion is that when people start to “diet” to try and lose weight, they open a Pandora’s box that ultimately either makes them fatter, sicker, or both. The “secret” to weight loss is adequate nutrient composition, getting enough sleep, and avoiding being sedentary for several hours at a time.

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Matt February 20, 2013 at 4:54 AM

Great post. My health has suffered over the years from unintentional carb and calorie restriction to the point of almost irrereversible damage. Years of low carb, candida diets etc have done nothing for me, and even though I was sick before trying a healthy diet, it became much worse. I induced gastroparesis and many other issues, and still struggle with chemical sensitivity, blood sugar and detoxification problems among other things.

I used to find it odd, although less so now after reading Matts and Gwyneths stuff, that in my experience I could induce a bowel movement when constipated by eating more refined foods. It’s as if it fires up my metabolism and gets everything moving. Palatable foods also seem to help and really satiating the salt and sweet flavours helps my stomach a little.

If you are a low weight and losing, and have a broad symptom set suggestive of starvation, then eating a mixture of refined/unrefined foods might not be the worse thing in the world. Those cravings, or feeling better when you stray from the diet (despite feeling incredibly guilty) might be your body prompting you to perhaps try running with that for a while……

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Diana February 20, 2013 at 7:27 AM

Guilty as charged. I eat too little for sure.
It is nearly 17:00 hrs and so far breakfast was 1 sourdough bun with meat topping and for lunch 1 bowl of veggie soup. That is not cutting it.
I have to really try to eat more. It is soooo difficult. I get sick so quickly and at dinner time I feel so bad most nights that I cannot even eat or only very little.
And I am overweight, all the time tired, and often ill.
Lots of work ahead to fix this. It only started 5 years ago after having very ill for some months, so there is hope yet.

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nicolette @ momnivore's dilemma February 20, 2013 at 1:59 PM

In addition to “starvation”…I think malabsorption applies here as well.

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Stephanie February 23, 2013 at 8:25 AM

Yes. I think it does too.

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Go Kaleo February 23, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Agreed. People with malabsoption issues can benefit from eating more eenrgy dense foods, even if those foods are vilified by health gurus. IMO, getting adequate calories is priority number one, even if ‘food quality’ has to be compromised.

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momto4 February 20, 2013 at 2:55 PM

thank you for posting this. Do you have any help for someone that tries to do this, but notices that raw dairy seems to cause weight gain? If i continute using raw kefir, i gain weight, especially in my belly and thighs. Ideas? I also have adrenal problems, thyroid i am trying to keep in check, and metal toxicity. Thanks!

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Renee February 20, 2013 at 4:55 PM

I have now read this article about 5 times – mostly because at first I thought naw I *know* I have struggled with AF – I mean I have 2 toddlers and crazy schedule – who wouldn’t be fatigued. I keep getting drawn back to this article though and I think it is because I’m starting to wonder if I really have just been starving myself. I am noticing especially with pregnancy #3 that when I feel like crap or nauseated all I need to do is eat more and I’m WAY better. Like way more energy and less crappy. And I’m not talking just a snack. Like huge meals and not just meat and veggies. It has shown me that there is a possibility that prenancy just magnifies how my body was really feeling all along and although I eat 90 percent clean it just wasn’t enough quantity. I’m still thinking and processing…hoping Im on the right track…

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Rachael W. February 20, 2013 at 5:17 PM

I’m curious what Amber’s and Cheeseslave’s thoughts on the GAPS diet is. Not as a long term lifestyle, but rather as more of a short term healing diet, aimed at healing the gut. I’ve been doing my best at eating a Weston A. Price/Nourishing Traditions style diet. (Diet is really not the best term. Way of life I suppose?) I don’t count calories, haven’t restricted particular food groups or foods. (Though I have cut out as many processed foods, white flours, white sugars, and high fructose corn syrup as possible!!) I have never “dieted” and have never followed or even attempted to follow fad diets, nor have I “yo-yo dieted”. (Though I did model in my teen years, and was always being told I was “too heavy” (I was 5’10″ and weighed 125lbs! TOO THIN!) During those years I was addicted to working out. I worked out 4-5 hours per day 6 sometimes 7 days per week. But even then I ate whatever I wanted, never dieted, restricted foods/calories, didn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs to stay “thin”. I chose to feed my gym addiction!!))
Fast forward many years (I’m 29) and 4 children later who I am blessed to stay home full time with and homeschool and I suffer from many chronic conditions, some I’ve had since childhood. And I’m tired, (so! tired! of being sick and tired!!!!!)
I first started researching food, healthy eating, and various ailments about five years ago, and I first found the Weston A. Prise and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions. (Life changers!) It was 5 years ago that my husband was diagnosed with Non-Alchoholic Fatty Liver Disease and was warned by the Dr. that he would ‘never be able to reverse the damage done to his liver, but with careful “dietary restrictions” could merely maintain the limited function of his liver’. The doctor said there were different stages with the worse being full blown cirrhosis of the liver. The damage to his liver was almost one step below cirrhosis. (He was in constant pain, with a swollen and distended liver that exhibited scarring.) At that same time my third child was born and he was born with MSPI (Milk Soy Protein Intolerance) and his case was so severe that he ended up being allergic to the protein in my own breast milk so I was unable to continue nursing him. He suffered from GI bleeding, and constant pain. Not to mention severe eczema. He was in a constant state of pain ranging from discomfort to severe pain. (He is now MSPI free thanks to the introduction of raw milk when he was 14 months old!!) He suffers still to this day from severe digestive problems, (gas, bloating, diarrhea, severe constipation, eczema, to name a few.) My oldest daughter had GERD so severe that her doctors pressured me to have her undergo surgery to “fix” it. She still suffers from reflux, heartburn, gas, bloating, digestive problems, bathroom problems, and now has severely painful periods. (She is only 11! ;( Because of GERD her doctor had her on soy formula until she was almost 2. I was 18 and didn’t know any better than to follow whatever a Dr. said) My fourth child was born 4 years ago and spent the first 12 days in the NICU intubated and was subsequently hospitalized 3 times his first year of life with “severe respiratory distress”. All four of my children suffer from the same digestive problems with a few being gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, reflux etc…) I myself have suffered from chronic migraines (diagnosed as “cluster headaches”, sciatica so bad I often spend days in bed unable to move requiring help to even go to the restroom! (My husband is a saint!) I suffer from an extreme case of Reynaud’s Syndrome as well only to name a few.

Anyway all this to say that after 5 years of changing our lifestyle to a WAPF/Nourishing Traditions lifestyle, my pain is constant and consistent as are the problems the rest of my family has been suffering from for years. (Though my husband’s liver is no longer “scarred” and ALL of the damage done by the NAFLS has reversed! Glory be to God!!!) I’m no looking to start myself on GAPS to allow my body to heal my gut. Eventually the rest of my family will follow in doing GAPS. I don’t know anything about Matt Stone, but I would sure be interested in hearing your takes on GAPS!!

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mandi February 21, 2013 at 8:24 AM

I would also like to hear a response to Rachael W.’s question. I’ve had depression/bipolar since puberty and am now trying to control it with diet/sublingual hormone drops/supplements after taking antidepressants for 16 years. I emotionally feel like crap when I eat grains and sugar, yet I physically feel like crap when I don’t. I’ve been doing a rendition of a full GAPS protocol off and on for about 4 years. I put on about 12 lbs when I started, and am now hovering around 140 lbs (i’m 5’7″) which is a good weight, but am carrying around about a ton of muffin top. Not sure where to go next with eating. Son and husband are borderline celiac, and casein allergic, and have environmental allergies like crazy, but neither have ever restricted their fat/carb intake.
I’m just so very confused.

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Go Kaleo February 23, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Same question to you, Mandi, are you getting regular physical activity? It is one of the most powerful antidepressants there is.

In regards to emotionally feeling like crap when you eat grains and sugar, is it because you’ve conditioned yourself to feel guilty and ashamed for eating them? Or do you think it’s a real biochemical effect? Definitely worth exploring!

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Go Kaleo February 23, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Unfortunately I don’t really know enough about GAPS to speak authoritatively on the subject. Cheeseslave has more knowledge on the subject I think.

Sounds like your body responded well to exercise when you’re younger, are you getting regular physical activity now? Many of the issues you mention can respond favrably to regular physical activity.

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Amy February 24, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Matt says that if you do GAPS be sure to eat lots of carbs (fruit and honey) to prevent going into starvation mode.

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Beth Schweitz February 21, 2013 at 6:28 AM

I am SO happy to have found your site. This article has completely opened my eyes and given me hope about my health.

I do have a question though and maybe if you aren’t sure you can answer it for me, if you could guide me to someone who could answer, that would be great!

I am 52 and athletic, but the last 7 months I’ve gained about 8lbs. I’ve been battling emotional trauma from the loss of two family members, and I thought that my weight gain was due to that, because I was too depressed to exercise, haven’t been sleeping well and consequently haven’t been eating well either.

But I don’t think it matters much how I got to this place, because I suspect my body had been working towards AF for awhile since I’ve followed the low-carb, high-intensity exercise regimen for many years.

However, my question is this. I’m alot older than you so my metabolism is naturally slowing down, and adding other life stresses hasn’t helped. Is it realistic to think I can get my metabolism back up into a healthy range and keep it there?

Thanks ahead of time for your input!

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Go Kaleo February 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Metabolism slows primarily because of loss of lean mass (organ, bone, muscle). You can slow this deterioration with strength training and weight bearing exercise. It doesn’t have to be high intensity for it to be beneficial! Eating adequate amounts of mostly healthy food will also keep your metabolism healthy. And sleep, as you’ve discovered is super important. Just being consistent with those lifestyle practices is your best bet for staying metabolically healthy as you age.

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JessicaD February 21, 2013 at 10:16 AM

I am forever grateful to Cheeseslave for talking about adrenal fatigue and all things nutrition. It has led to my being MUCH healither!!

Even though I have been diagnosed as having AF by my amazing DO and naturopath, I also! had starvation issues. They were not intentional. I was not trying! to limit my intake. I forgot to eat. And I was never hungry. I was so tired, I had no energy to eat food.

Getting help through Recovery Systems (who I found bc of the comments on Cheeseslave blog about mag deficiency), the first thing I had to do was eat more. it was so hard! But I quickly saw a difference. Not in my energy so much as just how y body felt and eventually my brain function was clearer.

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Trish February 22, 2013 at 5:49 AM

So how do we know we are eating enough, and enough of each food…fat, meat, etc…?:) does anyone have another link or something I can search to find something reasonable..
Or kwould it be in Nourishing Traditions somewhere? I really need something to see so I can show it to DH, and for myself, who have only eaten 1500 calories to lose weight, then just lain it back. He always gains more weight with lots of fat, he says.

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EmmaW February 22, 2013 at 6:16 AM

Trish, see my comment above. Also, if you click on my name it will take you to my blog where I have compiled information on this issue.

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Amy February 24, 2013 at 11:44 AM

You could look at youreatopia.com, too. The minimum for someone recovering is 2,500/day, every single day consistently, plus more if you’re still hungry (and no exercise). 3,000 for men who are sedentary.

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Trish February 22, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Thank you Emma!!!!!!! Going to check it out now!!!

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H February 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Great article! I have been struggling with feeling terrible with adrenal fatigue like symptoms for a few years now (severe fatigue, digestive issues, loss of appetite, anxiety etc). I am underweight and undernourished, and have not been eating enough due to digestive and appetite issues. I am also anemic. However, I believe I also have some leaky gut that needs healing, but all of the diets are so restrictive! I already have OCD and just the thought of all of the restrictions sends me into full on panic attacks. I really believe my body needs lots of carbs to function well, and I really need to be focusing on upping my calorie intake, not restricting! Do you have any tips on healing the gut without restricting my diet? I can handle gluten & dairy free, but cutting everything out freaks me out! Thank you so much!

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Go Kaleo February 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Hi H, see my response to Stephanie below. Eating energy dense, easily digested foods is a priority in situations like yours. Find what your body can handle, even if it’s not ‘optimal’, and focus on getting enough calories into you.

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Stephanie February 23, 2013 at 8:23 AM

This was a really interesting article. As someone who suffers from adrenal fatigue AND being someone who is VERY skinny, I’m intrigued. Do I have adrenal fatigue or am I starving myself?

A little about me: I am THIN and always thought it was due to heredity- my dad is tall and thin and my mom is petite. I am NOT anorexic or bulimic and never have been. I love food, all kinds of food. It amazes people how much I can eat and not gain a pound. In fact, it is very hard for me to gain weight. And I do not adequately deal with stress and have all the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Or so I thought.

Since I do not have an eating disorder, could it be possible that I have a digestive disorder? Could I be starving myself not by not EATING enough but by not properly DIGESTING and ASSIMILATING what I DO eat? I heard you’re not what you eat, you’re what you actually digest. I do have weak, thin, brittle hair, bad skin, bad breath etc. All symptoms of bad digestion (think). I also notice when I take digestive aid, (I take them like skittles) my bad breath goes away and I gain weight.

Oh ya, another thing- I think I have hypochlorhydria- low stomach acid which is why I have all these symptoms. So, my conclusion is- it doesn’t matter how much good food I eat, I will never be well until my body can properly digest food.

What do you think? And thank you for listening to my rant. I have been dealing with this for years and I’m still trying to figure it out.

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Go Kaleo February 23, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Hi Stephanie. Getting enough calories into you is a high priority here. I think once your body is getting the energy it needs, it may be easier for it to heal. Make sense? Have you considered eating easily digestible foods purely for the calorie density? Forget about nutrient density for a moment, energy density is a higher priority when you’re underweight/undernourished. Refined carbs, while certainly not optimal for everyone, can be very helpful in situations like yours. White rice, sugar sweetened beverages, even ‘junk food’ are all easier to digest than more fibrous, less processed foods. This is the reason refined/processed, energy dense foods are part of the standard medical treatment for some digestive illnesses.

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Stephanie February 23, 2013 at 12:33 PM

So you’re saying I shouldn’t feel guilty when I crave dish of angel hair pasta? Yesss! I get what you’re saying and I will definitely take it into account. I’m 5’5″ and my average weight is 112. I do believe that is underweight. I will try to eat more easily digestible food and more food in general. What’s funny is I just found I’m pregnant and I feel like I could eat a house!! Thanks for replying. :)

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Trish February 23, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Ssssooooooooooo….I obviously am Indra nourished and have an eating disorder…with being so obsessively gfree and other things. A few questions…if you get stressed about eating gluten and have trained yourself..and your kids..lot freak out about it, HOW DO YOU UNTRAIN yourself to freak out? I tried to eat something with gluten today and the stress of hitting it in my mouth was so horrible that I could not do it and just thought of the stress I would have if it was in my body making me act like a maniac to the family. I really have seen me get really anxious with gluten and it scares me to try it. Even that I want it. Help!!!:) also, what is your advice ipfor a child who has horrid reflux and is gf bc she gets a huge. Bloated stomach with gluten and dairy? Advice, anyone???? This is such a new concept to me!!!

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Lucy Lincoln February 25, 2013 at 2:56 AM

Obviously not sure what go kaleo or cheeseslave would say here but after two years eating paleo and being anorexic age 11-23 wheat seemed like something that I would never do- almost to the point I was so scared of it like I would be scared of the reaction of taking a hard drug- it was just really something I couldn’t envision tackling.

My advice to get over this fear is: eat spelt, oats. Once a week or twice a week. Or however many times u can mentally deal with it. Then go to a really nice french bakery n buy yourself a macaroon knowing it may not all be almond based but ingredients may contain some flour, eat the macaroon! (Providing you haven’t not allergy!!!!) then go back and get french baguette, imagine the amount of French people who have been doing this for years. Every day. Day in day out. And eat it slowly deliberately and just approach it positively. Once you realise that you are more than your fear, you are a human being who can trust their body to survive and overcome obstacles and actually gain strength from challenging fears, you’ll start to realise your mind is stronger than you think and it may inflict bad feeling on you to start with but it is YOUR mind, and you can sit with the feelings and deal with them, because that’s when you become desensitised to them, and over time the freedom that comes with that is much more liberating than adhering to certain rules that you inflict upon yourself.

I was on holiday in Vegas and went to a retreat in Utah for two days after it (I am English live in London) and I read a book about the tribes in that particular area having white flour and lard! They were in excellent health. Humans have the ability to create there bodies to be strong as they like. Cage a butterfly and it’s not likely to thrive, give it freedom and it’ll learn about the world and be stronger.

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Nathhan Copeland March 1, 2013 at 12:35 PM

This is a very informative article. I can’t wait for my girlfriend to read it! We both try and eat healthy but get distracted thru out the day and forget to eat then when we want to try and do something active or even leave the house we end up sitting around because we are both just tired. Thank you for sharing this!!

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Tosha March 14, 2013 at 11:40 AM

I am a super busy mom, 3 little ones, and have been diagnosed with adrenal and chronic fatigue. I don’t think I starve myself and take a wonderful herbal adrenal support supplement. This did get me thinking that sometimes when I feel super tired, I realize that I haven’t eaten much that day or haven’t eaten an carbs ( I am currently on the GAPS diet so getting the proper nutrients can be tricky at times). I wonder if sometimes my fatigue is from lack of calories due to my weight usually being on the low side? Great post, really got me thinking!

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Lesa March 21, 2013 at 7:29 AM

This article was meant to find ME! I love it and it speaks to me so much. Currently being tested for a handful of adrenal problems, and being more fatigued than ever and so upset that nothing is going right, this just makes sense. I signed up for a personal trainer 3x a week in Jan and have become obessive with calories or lack of, along with little or no carbs, fats, etc, all while getting excited while I lost weight quickly for awhile. Also thinking I was getting healthy, this is good for me. I am finally doing what my body needs because I have never taken exercise or diet serious in my life. Lately I am so tired and can’t recover from my training sessions, even 2 days later and my weight has actually gone up a few pounds and I feel awful. I have been resting and actually didn’t got to work out this week and slept through the day. I ate sandwiches and soups this week, feeling like I was quitting on all my hard work but it was what I was craving and I gave in. I am actually feeling somewhat better after that and alot more refreshed. I think I need to find a healthy balance between the 2, and your story is very inspirational!!!

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Ray June 19, 2013 at 6:48 PM

I believe I have adrenal fatigue that was caused years ago by pushing my body to the limit physically as a high-end endurance athlete. I have had all the classic symptoms for almost eight years now.

There seems to be no answers as to how to overcome this and get my life back because as it is, I have no energy, insomnia, brain-fog, blurry vision, colitis, tinitus, tingling in arms and face, and a host of other symptoms.

I have been to my doctor, specialists, and five naturopath doctors. Every one of the five naturopath doctors put me on the very same restrictive (candida-type)diet that is low carb, high protein.

In every instance my symptoms got much worse and twice almost put me in the hospital.

I agree that you just have to eat carbohydrates in order to create the energy needed to survive. After all it is true………carbohydrates burned in the clean burning fuel of quality fats= energy.

Although I agree with this article and know first-hand the dangers of these “fad” low-carb diets, there is still no answer to be found as far as combating the original adrenal fatigue I suffer from.

It’s obviously not diet as I am now on a well-balanced carb, protein, fat diet with no restrictions, so what is it?

What on earth do I have to do in order to get my life back assuming diet is not the problem?

It’s all I can do to make it thought a days work and no energy is left to do any sort of physical exercise.

Any insight into vitamin or mineral supplements etc. that might help would be much appreciated.

I really enjoyed the article because it reinforces what I had already figured out for myself.

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Skye June 20, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Ray, have you read any of Matt Stone? If I was in your position, I would definitely be following his RRARF (Rehabilitative Rest and Aggressive Refeeding) program. Although you’re on a balanced, unrestricted diet now, and perhaps have been for some time, it’s obviously not enough to repair the damage. It sounds to me like you probably need a LOT of food, a LOT of rest, and a LOT of sleep to repair your adrenals (which I have no doubt can be repaired when given the conditions they need).

Although supplements might come into it now or later, I would not look to them for the answers here. I think it’s a lot more basic, and comes down to how much energy you’re ingesting and expending.

I would recommend Diet Recovery 2 by Matt Stone, if you’re interested. I truly wish you all the best!!!

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Rufus T. Firefly September 14, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Amber,

I believe you’re already married, but could you benefit from a second husband? I don’t mind cleaning the kitchen or bathroom and washing/folding clothes. If required, we could all move to Utah. :)

Great post.

RTF

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Rachel R. April 13, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Fascinating! The one thing this doesn’t really address, though, is the fact that this can be a vicious cycle – *regardless* of where the cycle starts.

For instance, I’ve written before about how many young ladies who are diagnosed with anorexia may actually have a *physical* problem underlying things (difficulty with proper digestion, for instance) that makes them feel rotten, so they get too little to eat, which then *leads to* the psychological symptoms the doctor believed were the cause. The result is the same, but the correct way to *fix* it is very different.

Similarly, what about those of us who *started out* with adrenal fatigue (or other similar/related problems) and now cannot get enough to eat because our digestion is so screwed up? I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don’t get enough to eat. I can also tell you that I don’t eat some of the things on that list right now – *not* because I think there’s anything wrong with them, but because *my* body, right now, cannot digest them, and I feel like crap if I eat them.

I’ve actually voiced my suspicion that the biggest problem (for me) is probably that I can’t eat enough to get the “raw materials” to make enough enzymes to be able to digest enough food…

How do we get off the hamster wheel if we can’t eat enough to be able to digest food well, but can’t digest food well enough to be able to eat?

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