Is Your Diet Causing Your Fatigue?

Jul 21, 2023

Reading time: 5 Minutes

Fatigued woman with head down at work

"I feel exhausted all the time” is an all too common statement that we hear in health coaching appointments. Sometimes, complaints of chronic fatigue may be rooted in an illness or an unmanaged thyroid condition and require further discussion with your doctor to be ruled out. However, poor energy level and fatigue are often related to common lifestyle behaviors with simple solutions.


If you are tired of feeling tired, one or more of these six common daily habits could be the cause of your energy zap.


Six habits that can cause serious fatigue according to a Dietitian.


1. Unmanaged Sleep Apnea

Poor quality sleep is an obvious first culprit to address. Consistently getting 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is paramount to maintaining good energy all day. If you’ve already implemented a good sleep schedule (and don’t have a newborn baby at home), and you still feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, then you might want to talk to your doctor about an evaluation for sleep apnea.


Sleep apnea is a medical condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping, making restorative sleep impossible. Getting to the root of why you are not sleeping well and treating it appropriately is step number one for fighting daytime fatigue.


2. Poor Blood Sugar Control

How do you feel after eating a very large meal? The fact is when blood sugar levels are high it makes you feel very fatigued. Eating a diet high in simple sugars and ultra-processed foods can result in poor blood sugar regulation, as well as weight gain. Being overweight can also lead to insulin resistance, making blood sugar constantly high. The best way to keep blood sugar levels stable is to eat a high fiber diet, eat small balanced meals at regular time intervals, and stay active throughout the day.


3. Dehydration

Many people are constantly in a state of mild dehydration. If you feel thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated. Additional signs of dehydration are headache, fatigue, and dizziness.

The National Academy of Medicine suggests an adequate intake of daily fluids of about 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women in general. Higher amounts may be needed for those who are physically active or exposed to very warm climates. While all fluids count, water is the perfect zero-calorie beverage for quenching thirst and rehydrating your body. Begin to track your water intake today, and monitor your urine to be sure it is a light yellow “lemonade” color.


4. Nutrient Deficiencies

Fatigue can be caused by a nutrient deficit. Feeling very tired is a common symptom of low iron, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, or electrolytes. It’s important to have these nutrient levels checked to rule out the root cause of ongoing fatigue.


A balanced, nutrient-rich diet, a daily dose of sunshine for vitamin D, and sometimes a specific supplement may be needed if there is a nutrient intake gap in your diet. Avoiding processed foods and basing your diet on a wide variety of vegetables, fresh fruits, beans, lean unprocessed proteins, low fat dairy, nuts, and seeds will help ensure you meet all your nutrient needs. Additionally, keeping a food journal can help with identifying any nutritional gaps.


5. Sitting Too Long

Sitting for prolonged hours can lead to poor blood circulation, which can cause you to feel tired and mentally exhausted. It may sound counterintuitive, but exercise promotes more energy not less. Simply setting an alarm to remind you to get up and move around every hour will help break-up long periods of sitting and improve oxygen circulation to your brain, and ultimately fight off fatigue. Additionally, moving more throughout the day will help with weight management, which can also improve energy levels. For a bonus benefit, try taking a walk outdoors to get some fresh air and vitamin D.


6. Chronic Stress

Stress affects you both mentally and physically. While we all feel stressed at times, a constant high level of stress can result in serious fatigue and eventually even escalate into a state of depression. God didn’t design us to be in a constant state of worry and anxiousness. In fact, the Bible says “do not worry” (Matthew 6:25) and “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6), but “cast your burdens upon the Lord” (Psalm 55:22).


For many people, feeling stressed can promote other unhealthy habits such as overeating or making poor food choices. This pattern can then lead to weight gain, which can further cause fatigue, and then even cycle into feelings of guilt, depression, and more stress.


This cycle begins and ends with stress. Stress inhibits the rational thinking process, and as emotions and fatigue take over, the best of healthy intentions can quickly be derailed.



Stress-based fatigue cycle



This pattern of unmanaged stress must be dealt with by addressing the root causes of the stress. Prayer, meditating on Scripture, seeking Godly counsel, daily exercise, adequate sleep and rest, and a nutritious diet can help manage stress levels.


Seek Help

If you find you are still struggling despite trying these vital techniques, then do not hesitate to reach out to your medical provider for further help. Additionally, Certified Health Coaches are available to Medi-Share’s Health Partners for personalized health support and guidance.


The sooner you make healthy lifestyle changes where needed and seek additional help if you need it, the sooner you can bounce back to your lively, energetic self!


"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." - Isaiah 40:30-31

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