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10 Warning Signs Your Diet Is Making You Cranky As Hell

10 Warning Signs Your Diet Is Making You Cranky As Hell

You wonder what the hell is wrong with you.

Why are you so cranky?

You don’t want to be short-tempered and downright mean.

But sometimes your fuse is short, really short, and you don’t know what to do.

You don’t want to go the Prozac route. And you wonder if murkier problems could be looming.  Your doctor would laugh in your face—since when is crankiness a disease?

You aren’t doomed to a lifetime of grumpiness.

You get to be a detective, and you will learn to read your body’s clues.

And the best part is you can change without taking drugs.

Read the following signs.  They are red flags from your body, highlighting where your diet is messing up your mood.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

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Don’t ignore these clues.

Everyone knows that diets affect waistlines.  There is much more to the story — your mind affects your digestion, which then causes changes in your mood.

This isn’t a new concept.  Alternative medicines like TCM and Ayurveda diagnose diseases by observing your tongue, nails, hair and pulse. A physical sign like peeling fingernails can indicate a nutritional deficiency — which can make you glum.

Because the sources of a bad mood are much harder to pinpoint, we often forget the mind-body connection.

Here are ten ways to recognize and act on the red flags your body throws to get you to pay attention:

1.  Your skin looks like crap.

Blemishes come from inflammation because your immune system fires up against outside attackers.  Often imbalances in hormones, like excess estrogen, cause inflammation.  And this also will make you angry as hell.   And yes, your diet can cause hormonal imbalances.

2.  Your fingernails peel and crack.

What’s up with your crappy nails?  In Ayurveda, dry, cracking nails are a sign of improper absorption of nutrients in the colon.  Your nails need the right nutritional balance to grow strong.  When you lack essential nutrients, you’ll also feel short tempered or glum.

3. When you get hungry, you want to kill someone.

Do you turn into a hangry (hungry + angry) maniac before you eat?  This is a sign that you are eating quick-burning sugars, or you aren’t eating regularly.  If you feel hangry often, take a look at your diet.  Are you scarfing down processed foods like pastries or candy?  Even  so-called “healthy” foods like bagels cause blood sugar slumps and a monster mood.  Nibble on a mix of whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins at regular intervals.

4. You crave sweet or salty foods.  A lot.

If you often crave certain foods, especially concentrated sources of a certain taste, like salty or sweet, you may have a deficiency in your diet.  And you will feel cranky as hell if you don’t get the nutrients you need.

5.  You catch colds easily.

Do you catch colds more often than you should?  Your diet is not fortifying your immune system.  So you are weak and run down.  No wonder you get cranky.  Certain foods, especially mushrooms and cruciferous vegetables, improve our immune system.

6. You enter a food coma after eating.

You feel sleepy, sluggish and achy a lot.  Finishing a meal, you enter a food coma.  Junk food makes you feel like crap — both physically and mentally.   A crappy diet can overwhelm your body and your mind. If junk foods aren’t the culprit, you are overeating, or you have food allergies.

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7. Sh** – you gotta run to the toilet again.

And you have those pesky pains in your tummy.  Did you know that the same neurotransmitter, serotonin, lives both in our GI tracts and in our brains?  Ninety percent live in our tummies.  Imagine you suddenly get tummy troubles like pain and bloating.  At the same time, you feel lethargic and blue.  Your tummy troubles affect your happiness hormone levels and make you feel glum.

If your GI tract is acting crazy, it is probably inflamed.  In ground-breaking recent news, depression and inflammation were linked. Try to decrease inflammation with your diet to boost your mood.  It’s not as hard as you’d think.

8. There’s a bizarre white coating on your tongue.

Open up and say, “Aaaah.”  Is your tongue covered with a fuzzy coating? (Stop and look in a mirror.)   In Eastern medicines, a fuzzy coating is a sign of buildup, aka sludge in your GI tract.  The sludge forms when food isn’t digested or assimilated.  Your GI tract should run like a fine-tuned engine.  And food powers your body. Studies link leaky guts with depression and anxiety.  Changes in your gut bacteria exacerbate depression.

9. You frequently morph from the energizer bunny to a lazy dwarf.

When you eat processed carbs or sugar, the high you experience results from a “sugar” in your bloodstream rush.   Your pancreas secretes insulin in massive quantities to regulate your blood sugar.   The low comes when your blood sugar drops a couple hours later.  High levels of insulin can cause depression and moodiness.

And there’s more….

People with diabetes have double the risk of depression.  Insulin resistance develops after insulin has been high for a prolonged period.  Insulin resistance is associated with depression.

10.  You poop like an old man.

Most people think constipation is for the elderly.  But did you know that constipation often coexists with depression?  Do you have at least one bowel movement per day?  High stress, anxiety, and depression are all linked to constipation.  Why?  The “fight or flight” response diverts blood away from the GI tract to the periphery.  Our bodies think they may need to run from a lion or a falling tree.  Digestion and elimination slow down.  Chronic stress affects both your bowels and your mood.

Do you recognize more than two of these ten signs?

What now?  You need to make changes.

It’s remarkably easy.  And you won’t have to become a sprout-eating hippie.

How To Tweak Your Diet To Improve Your Mood

Eat More Of The Following To Banish Inflammation

Have you heard the hype about Omega-3 Fatty Acids?  Omega-3s combat inflammation and lower rates of depression, anxiety, and stress.  You can find Omega 3s in walnuts, flax, chia and oily fish like salmon.

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Choose grass-fed milk and meat because they are high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Turmeric is one of nature’s powerful anti-inflammatories.  It combats inflammation better than many drugs.  Take 1/2 teaspoon of the powder two times per day.

Try this anti-inflammatory ginger tea:  Boil 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger with three cups of water, turn off heat, filter and drink throughout the day.

Eat To Boost Your Energy (Even If You Are Lazy)

Simplify your meals to include vegetables, whole grains and high-quality protein. Examples are sautéed vegetables, brown rice with wild salmon, or tempeh.

Add variety to your diet by eating grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat.

Choose fruits, especially berries, to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Stop wasting your money on fast foods.  And watch your medical bills decrease.

Listen to your body.   When you get diarrhea or stomach aches after eating, eliminate the culprits.  Raw carrots, eggplants, peppers, dairy or wheat are common culprits.

Eat More Veggies and Spices To Boost Your Happiness

Choose plant-based proteins.  When you have the choice, go for the hummus and veggies over a steak. Eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables is even proven to improve moods.   This recent study found that vegans have lower levels of stress and anxiety than omnivores and vegetarians.

Eat veggies at least three times per week. This study found that eating vegetables three times per week cut the odds of developing depression by 60%. You can definitely eat vegetables three times per week.

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Spice up your diet to spice up your mood. Cloves, oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg increase levels of serotonin, the happiness and well-being neurotransmitter. Those mood-boosting compounds are also found in apples, berries, grapes, kale, onions, and green tea.

Cut out hormonal disruptors.  Environmental chemicals such as BPA in the food supply mimic your hormones. BPA is used in the linings of many food products, including canned goods.

Don’t take my word for it.

You aren’t doomed to a lifetime of gloominess.  You can become happier, healthier and even fitter.  Start with a simple step like eating a salad with your lunch every day.  You don’t have to become a vegan to feel happier.

All this information is worthless if you stare at your navel and wish you were different.  So don’t be lazy.

Long-term changes that boost your health will make you happier.

Start to observe yourself, and be your own detective and health advocate.

We all deserve to be happy and healthy. But you must take an active role in your happiness.

You know it’s true.

When you are happier and healthier, you make the world a better place.

Start with one simple change.  How about oatmeal for breakfast?

Again, make the world a happier place, just one bite at a time.

Featured photo credit: http://picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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