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Excess calorie intake and 'junk' food improving adrenal fatigue symptoms

Discussion in 'Adrenal Dysfunction' started by Mikee5, Oct 7, 2015.

  1. Mikee5

    Mikee5

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    Over the past few days I have been more casual with my caloric intake (I don't usually restrict but eat to satiation) and food choices. I have always favoured more nutritious foods and adhered to the nutritional balancing advice during recovery, and I still am, but there are brief periods during my recovery were I have felt somewhat relived of my symptoms post a junk food binge. I don't necessarily crave the foods I'm eating, but it just manifests itself from laziness and the occasional periods of exhaustion and typically continues for a few days.

    About two years ago I came across Matt Stone and his work advocating eliminating dietary restrictions and rest, similar to that of an adrenal fatigue recovery plan but with less emphasis on nutrition and more on calories, metabolism, thyroid function and body temperature. It's a shame his forum is not as active any more and his name has disappeared from forums like MDA. Stone challenges dietary dogma and shifts focus to repairing or restoring optimal metabolic function through 'refeeding', eating liberally to nourish the body with calories and dismissing orthorexic tendencies. There were some fantastic success stories, but none from identifying adrenal fatigue sufferers. Those who posted in the forums documenting their recovery were usually those recovering from extreme diets and calorie restriction, and their symptoms were only mild/moderate fatigue and mood issues. Nevertheless, I embarked on a similar plan very early on in my recovery (6 months post-adrenal crisis) and saw no relief in my symptoms, only a flare up of candida and digestive issues. But almost two years on, things appear to be different and my body is stronger and less sensitive.

    Every time I went on vacation I would typically favour junk food and high calorie foods. I would also bask in the sun and enjoy the generous vitamin D. Within a couple of days I'd see an improvement in my condition, and over a few weeks I'd feel somewhat better. My cognition would improve, I'd feel stronger and more energetic and my moods stabilised. However, every time I'd return back home to my 'healthier' eating plan, I relapse and quickly fall back into my adrenal fatigue state. I experience a relatively low amount of stress in my daily life, so to consider either the high junk food intake or vitamin D exposure (which I cannot supplement with, unfortunately) is major dilemma. I cannot gain any more weight otherwise my self esteem would practically disappear and it is incredibly expensive (and embarrassing) to be gorging on junk food so often and so casually without contemplating the potential consequences to my health and overall wellbeing.

    This is simply an observation that I wanted to share with you guys. Perhaps Matt Stone's theory has some credibility (and definitely has its success stories), but I'd like to know if any of you guys had any relief of symptoms after adjusting nutrition or 'binging'?
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
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  2. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    Under-eating can have serious consequences in the long term. And the foods most revered in contemporary Western culture as being the most nutritious and the best for us are not very calorie dense, thus provoking unintentional under-eating if adhered to exclusively for a long-ish period of time.

    IME if I eat Pritikin style (mostly veggies, no fat, very little sugars even from fruit, and a small amount of protein) for over a month at a time, everything (mood, cognition, energy, etc.) goes in the toilet pretty quickly. Even if I eat the "purest" version of Paleo, which emphasizes more protein and fat, but no starchy carbs and very limited sugars, things go in the toilet because I just can't keep my overall calorie intake up. I can't eat enough protein and fat to offset the calorie-dense carbs missing from my diet.

    And both ways of eating cause cravings. Since I've fixed my gut I haven't eaten either style so I don't know how bad the cravings would be now, but before methylation and gut therapy a month's worth of Paleo, Atkins, or Pritikin would send me off on a six-month's-long junk food binge of cheeseburgers, french fries, and ice cream.

    Currently I eat liberally of what we now know are the healthiest foods (real foods, including starchy carbs and sugars, and saturated fat), and am having great success with intermittent fasting to get my weight under control. Intermittent fasting can be problematic for people with adrenal problems but I seemed to have licked my adrenal fatigue. Five years back I had a pretty bad case of it, too...cortisol was flatlined under normal for the entire 24-hour period, with a small uptick in the evening when it should be ramping down. Good news is that although I still am careful about my adrenals, I no longer have to tiptoe around them. As long as I keep up with the supps, and don't push my lifestyle (early to bed, early to rise, healthy eating, moderate social life, etc.) they seem to be fine.

    You should check out 16/8 intermittent fasting to see if it might work for you to keep your weight under control. If you don't need to lose any (I had a BUNCH to lose) that may be enough for you. I'm currently doing alternate day fasting, which is tougher on the adrenals, but when I reach my goal I will probably switch to 16/8 only. I still do 16/8 but the weight loss from that was very slow and since I don't react poorly to fasting more often I figure WTH. It's all about my health, really, but I sure don't mind the benefical aesthetics, either. ;)

    Also, the Perfect Health Diet is a great healthy way to eat a calorie dense diet without junk food but still keep your weight under control. If you need more calories you can add more saturated fat and sugar to it, but if you need less calories you can adjust your intake and fat content. Easy-peasy. Greatest thing about it is all the foods are very healthy and satisfying. I'm hooked on it, and I"m a former junk food ADDICT.

    I never heard of Matt Stone before today but his theory seems to jive with my own experience. Glad it's working out for you, too! :thumbsup:

    P.S. In case you didn't know it, the best healthy desert in the world is medjool dates eaten with 85% dark chocolate. Nutritious, calorie dense, and deeply yummy, all without breaking the calorie bank. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
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  3. Ema

    Ema Senior Member

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    Junk food is also very high in salt and salt always improved my adrenal symptoms.
     
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  4. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    Excellent point! I guess since I don't salt load any more (currently, at least) I keep forgetting about that. But extra salt helped me TREMENDOUSLY for years, up until just a few months ago, in fact. I added it to everything...food and water.

    If you add 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 8oz of water and drink that first thing in the morning, and it tastes like the best thing you ever put your lips on, then you probably need to salt load, at least for a while.

    And even though I'm not currently "loading", my salt intake is still quite high by mainstream standards, and I'll probably circle back around to loading whenever I feel like I need it. No telling when or why that could be..periods of extra stress, or after letting intake dip too low for a while, whatever.

    Salt is definitely one of the most valuable things you can do for fatigued adrenals.
     
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  5. drob31

    drob31 Senior Member

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    I was going to post something similar to this.

    If I over eat, I do feel an increase in energy. I almost don't feel like I'm gaining weight either.
     
  6. Effi

    Effi Senior Member

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    @Mikee5 interesting topic! I was wondering, what do you consider to be junkfood? Is it like nutrition depleted McDonalds style food full of additives, or the stuff that is still deemed 'bad for you' but actually isn't all that bad?

    I also feel good right after eating something I'd otherwise consider 'junk food' and I always think it's because eating comfort food soothes my nervous system. If you're eating junk food full of chemical additives though, I feel like the reaction would rather be something along the lines of a 'high', which is usually followed by a crash, and then you'll need another high to compensate (= addiction).

    About the salt, like @whodathunkit said, sometimes I just eat a bit of salt (just straight out of the salt pack!) and it tastes like the best thing ever. I guess that means I need it.

    I stopped craving the 'bad stuff' after I considerably increased my (healthy) fat intake. We have been taught that all fat is bad, but I believe this has generally made people sicker than they needed to be. If you deplete your body of fat, it's just gonna cause never ending cravings...

    One other thing I was wondering, you were talking about holidays in the sun, where you'd eat junk food, and then when back at home eating the 'right' foods you'd feel bad again. Could that also have to do with a change of climate, and not just the change in foods?
     
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  7. ScottTriGuy

    ScottTriGuy Stop the harm. Start the research and treatment.

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    I wonder if "vit D" should replace "junk food" in your title?
     
  8. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    I like doing this sometimes with coarse sea salt (celtic or pink or whatever). Crunchy and yummy. :)
     
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  9. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    This guy seems like he could use a little mitochondrial, healthy fat, and gut therapies. I seriously wonder what would happen with people like this if they started treating them with some of the unconventional therapies we use around here. I can only bet the hospital was doing calorie restriction and processed, low fat food...the worst thing in the world fat people with bad guts. I know, cuz I was one.
     
  10. Effi

    Effi Senior Member

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    @whodathunkit There's so many tv shows these days about severely overweight people and the way the dieticians approach it is always the same: extreme calory restriction and extreme exercise. I'm always appalled by how little the dieticians actually know about nutrition, and about exercise for that matter. They still use that oldfashioned food pyramid ('fat makes you fat!') and calories in = calories out. Saying that's outdated is an understatement. I can only imagine how the people on those diets must feel, like they're literally starving themselves. The extreme exercise surely puts them in a state of bodily stress that can't be good for you.
     
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  11. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    @Effi: yep.

    Even Barry Sears the Zone diet guy tried unsuccessfully with the most obese man in the world (at the time, the man has since passed away), and Sears' approach is much saner than a conventional mainstream medical program treatment. But I've done the Zone, too, and it's still too restrictive, or it was back when Sears tried with this guy. I will say it took about 4 months for me to develop the galloping munchies for crap food when I was on the Zone, as opposed to only a month with other approaches. So it's better, but not ideal. From what I understand Sears has at least incorporated some higher glycemic foods into his approach, but I haven't checked it lately and if he's not doing starches and saturated fat he's still way off the mark.

    P.S. I want to clarify that I never weighed 800 lbs! :p But I was fat. Thanks to what I've learned on PR, however, I'm now only overweight instead of mildly obese. I'm actually wearing a belt today that I haven't been able to get around my waist in over 15 years! :thumbsup: And I'm fast closing in on my ideal weight for my bone structure. Ideal being not based on a chart but rather how I look and feel. Plus I'm having a baked potato with butter (among other things) tonight for supper. Life don't get any better. ;)
     
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  12. Effi

    Effi Senior Member

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    hahaha @whodathunkit you made me laugh! :lol: Good job on losing weight, not because of the weight but because of how it makes you feel. :) I'm suddenly craving a buttered potatoe for some reason hmmm lol

    PS: would it be too strange to state that we should all go back to learning how to be in tune with our own bodies and go from there? Let our bodies dictate what we need? I don't believe in rigid diet plans anymore, cause every day is different, and every body is different. Out with the dogma, in with whatever feels right. :nerd:
     
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  13. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    Nope. IMO the ability to self-monitor (tune in to our bodies) is the key to success with any therapy, especially when playing around with stuff that can have subtle effects (like the stuff we use around here, although the effects aren't always subtle).
     
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  14. Mikee5

    Mikee5

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    Well I've been indulging in pizzas, sugary and savory snacks and most fast food stuff. It's been pretty calorie-dense, possibly in excess of 3000+ calories. Here in the UK there are restrictions on dyes, food colouring, GMOs etc. but hydrogenated fats and poor quality food is something to consider. Supporting Matt Stone's theory, the high calorie consumption is mostly likely contributing towards overall improved and stable metabolic function. This probably reduces the effects of stressed or exhausted adrenals and helps them recover, in turn increasing cortisol levels and overall hormone production. But this is just a hypothesis and the term 'metabolism' is too broad to pinpoint a specific alignment, illness, disease or condition to address and diagnose. I find the term rather pointless (within its dietary/weight loss/holistic context) and coined from the sphere of broscience.

    I think that even during the warmest, long summer months when I get the most exposure to vitamin D, I can't say I feel much different. In fact the heat exhausts me. Vitamin D does not play a vital role in adrenal fatigue recovery, and does not directly impact the adrenals. Sure, it helps with cholesterol -> pregnenolone conversion but not significantly.

    I find that my appetite suppresses (while enjoying the effects of the 'high') and I no longer feel hungry within a few days of returning. It's this sensation of euphoria, exaggerated confidence and overall mood elevation. I also notice a cognitive boost, almost a return to my mental state pre-adrenal fatigue.

    This is not my recovery plan, as I don't know if the weight gain compromise is worth this recovery route and it's not guaranteed, I may relapse or it may just be temporary.

    Today I started the day with a more relaxed journey on public transport. Usually I'm pretty anxious, tired and wired. I also tend to perspire a lot when engaging in strenuous activities (probably because I'm so unfit right now). But today was certainly different, I felt far more relaxed, I managed to smile a few times and I felt this sense of optimism that I haven't felt in a while. I doubt tomorrow or the day after I'd feel the same but it's just an observation.
     
  15. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    Eventually this way of eating will exhaust your adrenals. The cortisol, insulin, and general energy fluctuations necessary for the body to maintain homeostasis on this kind of diet are simply too much, and the drawbacks far outweigh the temporary transient benefits. Trust me, I've been there. I ate this way daily for nearly 30 years (from the time I left my parent's house at age 18 until just a few years ago) and wound up a complete basket case with many more (and more severe) problems than just adrenal fatigue. You seem young, so take it from an old broad, it *will* catch up with you. It's compensating for some energy problems right now but down the road will instead begin to cause them. Since you're already apparently having noticeable health problems, as you age you'll become mired in multiple complex health problems are very difficult to overcome.

    If you think the excess calorie theory is truly benefiting your energy, try eating the same number of calories but with stuff like baked potatoes with butter and coconut oil, porridge with butter and honey, eggs, meat, pasta with home-cooked sauce (not out of a jar!) and meatballs, rice with butter, cheese, etc. Use coconut oil and butter for added fat, maybe a little olive oil. Eat fatty beef and some seafood. Limit chicken and pork, but they are acceptable (especially bacon :D). Veggies to taste, but put butter or coconut oil on them. Stay away from nuts, seeds, and their oils. Dates are actually quite high calorie if you eat a bunch of them, and they make a fantastic dessert when eaten with 85% dark chocolate. Cheeseburger and fries (chips to you, I think) are good except skip the bun and home cook it all. Fry the chips in coconut oil or beef tallow. Salt it all heavily. Skip the sodas and drink water instead. Etc. A strategy like this might do the trick calorie-wise and craving-wise, while at the same time moving you in a more healthy direction that will benefit your adrenals much more than what you're currently doing. Of course overdoing even good fat will eventually run down your liver, but as @Effi notes, good fat is a jones killer and does a lot to alleviate cravings for junk. So you might actually find yourself spontaneously falling into a good calorie level for you, without a liver-killing amount of fat.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
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  16. drob31

    drob31 Senior Member

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    I was eating clean Paleo before I crashed. Infact I cutting calories and losing weight, eating low carb, low calorie, no gluten or anything that would cause an "autoimmune response." Hormone issues and caffeine and stress triggered it IMO.
     
  17. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    Aside from the craving aspect, I believe my sporadic dalliances with low-carb and low-cal (like the "only veggies & meat" style Paleo) really messed up my gut. Of course the life-long junk food habit did it, too, and the SSRI's added a nice wrinkle to the toxic mix, but my functioning always declined noticeably after going low carb or low cal for a while.

    The first time I ever tried the Zone I was able to stay on it for 4 months and felt great for about three of those. Then the final month the cravings kicked in, and after I "fell off the wagon" I felt compelled to eat like there was no tomorrow and gained all the weight back and then some. Never felt as good after as before it, either. Looking back I realize I was probably only taking in between 600 and 1200 calories per day for the entire 4 months, even with massive quantities of food, simply because none of the foods were really calorie dense. Also, a "pure" Zone is quite low fat, with no saturated fat allowed (becuz teh arachadonik acidzzz!!! :nervous::nervous::nervous: :rolleyes:).

    Seriously, Zone was actually a nice change for me because I wasn't really hungry for most of the time (until around the end of month 3) even at that low cal intake, but ultimately it seemed like food was running my life. Because the meals & snacks were small and frequent, seemed like I was either eating, or preparing to eat, or thinking about what I was going to eat next, all day. As many people here know, doing stuff like that when you're not hungry is a real drag. Plus my mouth got *so tired* of chewing all that food. Great huge piles of broccoli or cauliflower or lettuce, etc., every single day. o_O It was a great workout for my the masseter muscles (my jaw muscles were actually sore in the beginning of it :lol:), but I literally got to where I didn't want to chew any more.

    Anyway, point being, I seriously think extended periods on rabbit/ruminant type food isn't good for our guts. Just my $0.02.
     
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