As you might know, from this year I am formalizing my professional network with the people I am collaborating with behind the scenes. I am working together with Shay Klomp-Bueters, an integrative nutritionist who has her own practice called Contagiously Healthy. She works with clients of mine who have challenges where the right food consumption is key to tackle them.
She has been suffering from burn-out a while ago and she focussed, amongst other things, on food to restore the broken balance within herself. In this blog you can read her advice on what to eat or not to eat while you are recovering from burn-out.
Here's what no one tells you about nutrition for burnout
Huh? You might think… “What is Shay talking about? All I can think about eating at this time, is my go to comfort foods. And she wants me to think about nutrition? Right now I feel completely broken. The thought of doing anything more than getting out of bed to move to the couch … well it is just TOO much. “
I have been there myself.
It took an 8 day “visit” to the hospital providing a very impactful reminder that without my health, I truly have nothing.
My journey back to health started with nutrition. Everyone has their own journey, although at some point nutrition will become a very relevant piece of that broken puzzle…. which is you (or possibly someone you know. )
There is no miracle “recover from burn-out” diet. (Well… there might be claims of one, although I wouldn’t trust it.) I believe in bio-individuality, which means there is no perfect way of eating that works for everyone. This is more a process of trial and error once you have a bit more nutritional know how, which is what I would like to share with you. Here are my top 5 steps regarding your nutrition that will help you nourish your body while recovering from burn-out.
1. Reduce stress
Did you know that stress can actually change the balance of bacteria that naturally live in the gut? (1).The exposure to long term stress, leads to changes in the diversity, composition and number of good healthy gut bacteria called microbiota in the gut. A healthy balance between good and bad gut bacteria is critical for a strong immune system.
You may have noticed that when you are under stress, you tend to get sick – or just after a stressful period, there is a reason for this. When you are under chronic stress it makes it much more difficult to fight off the potentially harmful bacteria causing dysbiosis (an imbalance of the ratio of good to bad gut bacteria.)
For me, I was sick off for 1 year prior to landing in the hospital. I noticed it took longer and longer for me to recover. Leading up to my burnout, I was sick for 2 ½ months straight. Instead of listening to my body talk and resting, taking a break, even pausing to take a deep breath, I continued to let the pressure of all my “have-to’s” perfect mother, perfect employee, perfect employer, wife, friend… those were in the driver’s seat, which was a steep price to pay.
2. Kick out the inflammatory foods
It is well documented these days that the majority of diseases — including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's—have been linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore the importance to kick out the inflammation and heal what is happening inside your body.
What is inflammation? Inflammation happens when the body attempts to eliminate the bad gut bacteria and heal damaged tissue, which has resulted from the imbalance in the gut microbiome.
There is NO nutritional value what so ever.Kick it out.To keep it simple, essentially this includes anything that comes out of a package, or simple carbohydrates, such as baked goods, cookies, and white breads. Should you need more convincing I invite you to join my FREE 5 day Break-Up with Sugar challenge, where we cover the unusual suspects, the 61 names of sugar along with much more! If you are looking for more motivation, I highly recommend checking out Dr. Robert Lustig’s “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.”
Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye and barley. It is the protein that gives it structure. In the 19th century the started to mass produce gluten, which has reduced the nutrient density. Refined wheat has the ability to spike blood sugar very fast, which causes inflammation. If you suffer from gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, I would suggest going off gluten for minimum of 1 week to see what happens.
Milk and dairy can cause stomach and bowel issues, skin irritation and repeated respiratory infections. Dairy products are often highly processed. Did you know that approximately 70 % of African Americans, 90 % of Asian Americans, 53 % of Mexican Americans, and 74 % of Native Americans are lactose intolerant? (2) It seems most people drink milk, do to the very successful “Got Milk” campaign, saying it is good for calcium levels.The irony is that there are many other foods that provide calcium in much higher levels than milk. Tahini, Sesame Seeds, Yogurt, Dark Leafy Greens... the list goes on.
Caffeine is a strong stimulant. It is irritating to the stomach, it is irritating to the bladder, especially in women, and is a frequent cause of urinary complaints Caffeine causes glycogen stored in liver and muscle tissue to be mobilized and converted to the body’s fuel, glucose. Ultimately this withdrawal of energy leaves the energy reserves severely depleted, similar to how your bank account empties, if you over-spend.
3. Bring in the protein
Protein builds, maintains, and replaces the tissues in the body. Essentially protein is going to keep you satiated and helps in preventing the energy dips throughout the day. Proteins can be found in meats, as well as eggs, legumes, and healthy grains such as quinoa, teff, kamut, sorghum are a few great sources. Eggs were and still are one of my go-to’s for a quick protein fix, as you can have them so many ways, omelets, egg muffins, scrambled, hard-boiled… the list goes on.
4. Bring up the Fiber
Fiber slows down the digestive system and provides a steady supply of energy and nutrients. Fiber also lowers blood cholesterol levels, controls blood glucose (sugar) levels and increases the amount of healthy bacteria. High fiber foods include split peas, lentils, black beans, avocado to name a few. Avocado is one of my favorites, due to the versatility of it. Avocado toast, guacamole with veggies, added to eggs, avocado pudding, etc.
5. Start Mindful Physical Activity
Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing, be sure to take it slow. Again, having been there myself, I can relate. I remember talking about going for a walk around Vondelpark in the mornings… months before I actually started to while in my recovery.
Exercise is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout. Even a slow 10 –minute walk can make a difference, in lifting your mood, increasing energy, bring clarity of mind as well as relaxation.
When moving your body, it is helpful to let go of the thoughts and focus on the body. I would think about my feet walking heel to toe and about the strength in my feet, then in my toes, my ankles etc. and work my way up my body… which helped in shifting the focus to something else. Another thing I would do, was be mindful of where I was, as I walked through the park, I would start to enjoy breathing in the crisp fresh air, hear the birds and the wind blowing through the leaves on the trees. All of this helps getting out of your head and back into your body.
Are you still with me?
I realize that was a load of information to process. The goal is to provide some tangible take-aways to get started to help in truly nourishing your body, while recovering from burnout. My suggestion would be to take one thing that stands out to you most and try it out. Change happens when we take the first step. Here’s to taking time to listen to your body talk and living life on your own terms.
(1) Brain, Behavior, and Immunity
(2) Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
I hope you enjoyed this blog and in case you have any questions, please contact Shay directly as she offers a 30 minute free consultation.