A couple of months ago I read and reviewed a book called Dr Susan’s Chronic Fatigue Cure. The book suggested a number of foods that may reduce energy. This is of particular interest to people like me who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Dr Susan suggests that the following foods can be energy-draining: red meat, lactose, gluten, chocolate, coffee and alcohol.
Since I read the book, I’ve been carrying out a scientific experiment on myself, to see if these foods really do have an effect.
Coincidentally at about the same time as reading Dr Susan’s book, I also discovered Dave Asprey, who makes similar claims, but for slightly different food groups. He also suggests that you eliminate lactose and gluten, but in contrast to Dr Susan is against pulses and in favour of coffee and red meat! He also warns that members of the deadly nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and mango) can have a negative effect on energy levels.
So this seemed like an interesting and useful experiment that I could try out on myself. Don’t worry, I wasn’t harmed during any of these experiments.
First I defined 5 energy levels that I could fairly reliably assess in myself. I used these to “measure” my energy levels throughout each day. Here are the energy levels I used:
|1. Need to lie down – exhausted|
|2. Need to sit down – bit sleepy|
|3. Ready to do cooking / light housework|
|4. Ready to do light exercise / gardening|
|5. Ready to do intense exercise|
I found that during the study I averaged around level 4. Note that during this period I wasn’t suffering from obvious symptoms of Chronic Fatigue. If I was, I would have averaged around level 1-2.
I ate my usual diet for two months (which incidentally doesn’t include sugar or refined carbohydrates (white bread, potatoes, white rice, white pasta) which are also “no-go” foods for both Dr Susan and Dave Asprey.) At regular intervals throughout each day I recorded my energy level. Then, at the end I analysed the effects of the different foods on my energy.
Here are the results:
|Lactose (Milk/cheese/yogurt/powdered milk)||
|Beans / lentils / houmous / peas||
So coffee (surprisingly), lactose, red meat, gluten and nightshade-family plants had no effect on my energy levels. Pulses actually made me feel tired after eating them (presumably because they are hard to digest). Chocolate and green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale, sprouts) gave me a boost.
Eat chocolate and gain energy! I declare the experiment a total success! Seriously though, I wasn’t munching my way through whole bars of chocolate. I limited myself to one small square of dark chocolate per day. I recently read elsewhere that chocolate can help to cure the symptoms of CFS.
In conclusion this was an interesting experiment that anyone could try on themselves. What worked for me might not work for you.
For myself, I’m now relaxed about what I eat, knowing that most things are either neutral or beneficial. I’m making sure I eat a small piece of chocolate every day and packing in as many green veg as I can manage. I’ve reduced my intake of beans and lentils but not eliminated them completely.
It’s not a cure, but it’s another tool in my battle against chronic fatigue. So thank you, Dr Susan. Even though your list of foods didn’t work precisely for me, it set me on the path of finding out what does work.