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Maintaining a Healthy Diet While Under Stress


November 13, 2014 | Published by

It is hard to say which is more important when you are suffering from chronic stress- what to eat or what not to eat! Eating the wrong foods or combination of foods can throw you off for hours and even days, so do not even try to sneak something by; it is just not worth the price you have to pay. In this blog I outline the types of foods that are best left alone, and why.

The Addictive Cycle of Sugar and White Flour Products

Ironically, foods made with these ingredients such as doughnuts, rolls, pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, candy bars, and soft drinks are the ones that many people suffering from adrenal fatigue crave. This is because when you have adrenal fatigue you also usually have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and foods made from refined flour and/or sugar quickly raise your blood sugar. Unfortunately, they raise your blood sugar so high and so fast that too much insulin is released in response. This excess insulin then causes your blood sugar levels to crash, leading to hypoglycemic symptoms and more cravings. Furthermore, sugar and white flour are entirely naked calories, the metabolism of which drains an already depleted body of the vitamins and minerals it needs to heal or to maintain.

If you replace the items made with white flour like pies, cakes, cookies, crackers, most desserts, commercial breads and pastas, and all caffeine containing or sweet drinks like sodas with foods that contain nutrients and not just energy, you will quit robbing your body of what it needs. More than that, you will be able to get off the perpetual hypoglycemic roller coaster ride that leaves you fatigued, inefficient, and aging more quickly inside.

The Evils of Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats are oils that have been altered chemically to have certain properties (like remaining solid at room temperature) that have nothing to do with your health. Three common examples are vegetable shortening, margarine and the oil in commercial peanut butters. These adulterated fats are used in almost all commercially prepared food items found in grocery stores and in many restaurant foods.

The good fats are those that the body can use to build tissue, such as nerve and cell wall membranes, and the bad fats are the ones that block this from happening. When you eat foods containing hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats they disrupt normal fatty acid metabolism in your body. They use up the enzymes that normally would be utilized by the good oils, and prevent your body from creating quality cell membranes and nerve sheaths. As a result, your body cannot transform essential fatty acids into the materials it needs to make various cell wall components and other structures.

Any time you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils or fats, put that food back on the shelf and do not buy it. Alternatives are available in health food stores and in the grocery store, if you look carefully. Even though you may crave these familiar foods, eating them seriously interferes with your ability to heal. What you are really craving are the essential fatty acids.

Avoid Deep Fried Foods

Most deep fried foods are fried in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. These fats are kept at high temperatures and are often reused. As the oil is heated above a certain temperature or reheated, it breaks down, forming toxic free radicals and becoming rancid. This means that eating deep fried food causes not only the same problems as hydrogenated fats, but also the additional problems created by toxic free radicals. Because free radicals are produced when oils break down with heat, you should also avoid food fried in oils high in essential fatty acids (cold pressed sunflower, flax, peanut, safflower, etc.) or any foods fried at a high temperature or for long periods of time.

Avoid “Fast” Foods and Junk Foods

There are numerous problems with typical fast food and junk food. They all contain white flour, sugar, hydrogenated fats, or all three. Often their ingredients are poor quality with little nutrient value, and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives are used to make up for this. What nutrients they do have are frequently lost while they are kept hot or stored for long periods of time. It is questionable whether some junk foods are even food at all. You do not need these “foods,” as they only create havoc with your biochemistry, make you fat, and leave you feeling wrecked.

Avoid Foods That Trigger Allergies or Sensitivities

It is important to completely eliminate all foods and food substances that trigger allergies or sensitivities. Unless there is an anaphylactic reaction (cannot breathe) or hives, most people are not aware that their symptoms may be a reaction to a food they are sensitive too. For more on the role these foods play in your health, read our blog series on identifying and eliminating food allergies and sensitivities.

The Hidden Message in Chocolate Cravings

If you have a piece of chocolate once or twice a year, you can probably skip this section. However, if you crave chocolate, would almost be willing to kill for chocolate, or if chocolate is a coveted part of your diet, then you need to read this. A craving for chocolate can sometimes actually be your body’s craving for magnesium, since chocolate contains large amounts of magnesium. This is especially true in women who crave chocolate before they menstruate or who have PMS. Magnesium helps mediate the symptoms of PMS because it is intimately involved in the manufacture of progesterone. A lack of magnesium can lead to inadequate progesterone levels, producing the PMS symptoms. In the body’s wisdom, it craves chocolate because chocolate is rich in magnesium. The unfortunate aspect, however, is that chocolate is also high in caffeine and a caffeine-like substance, theobromine, that over stimulate the adrenals leading to further adrenal fatigue.

Dr. James L. WilsonAbout the Author: With a researcher’s grasp of science and a clinician’s understanding of its human impact, Dr. Wilson has helped many physicians understand the physiology behind and treatment of various health conditions. He is acknowledged as an expert on alternative medicine, especially in the area of stress and adrenal function. Dr. Wilson is a respected and sought after lecturer and consultant in the medical and alternative healthcare communities in the United States and abroad. His popular book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome has been received enthusiastically by physicians and the public alike, and has sold over 400,000 copies. Dr. Wilson resides with his family in sunny Tucson, Arizona.

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  • Maya says:

    This is a good article. Personally I am aware of this, but because of severe radiation damage to my intestines I cannot eat anything but white flour as doing so will cause me severe pain and bleeding. So what is left to eat that is still healthy, when you take away anything that has a lot of fiber?? I am a vegetarian. Meat is NOT an option. But I will eat food with egg, milk or cheese. I used to eat lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains but that is no longer possible.
    I have severe AF possibly Addison’s and have been on HC for 1.5 years but I need to go off it for a couple of months in order to do tests for Addison’s. Already feel really awful….
    Do you have any idea about what I could eat to get more nutrition for my body without damaging my insides further?

    • Hi Maya,

      Those are tough questions. The American Cancer Society has guides for a low fiber diet, which you may find helpful. You can find them here:
      There are more on the National Institute of Health’s Medline Plus page here:
      As for hydrocortisone: your practitioner would be best to answer this question. The time frame can vary based on types and amounts of hydrocortisone taken, and they’d be able to better help you with this. Hope this helps!

    • Elle says:

      HI Maya,

      I have taken several classes on AF, and what I have learned is the hydrocortisone just floods the blood, it does not repair the adrenal glands. Seroyal makes wonderful remedies for the adrenals, and it taken right with proper diet, get to bed at the same time every night and get up the same time every morning, routine is crucial for the adrenals. It could take up to 2 years for them to properly heal. That is if stress and the immune system are working properly. I have been very sucessful and helping many of my clients. Best of luck to you.

    • Kara says:

      Hi Maya, I know this is 4 years later but hope it helps. You could juice whole organic veggies and fruit and get a lot of nutrition this way. It could be very good to make and drink bone and veggie broth to help heal your gut. The bones should be from animals treated well by a local farmer, organic grass fed and grass finished. I would suggest you look up info on how to heal leaky gut syndrome. Blessings.

      • Robyn says:

        She will not eat anything that has been killed for a human. There is no way to humanely kill, killing is dominating and controlling another which is horrid. She does not want to eat the energy of suffering. Although the dairy industry causes immense suffering to animals also. Males are horribly killed in dairy industry. Mom cows cry for their young ripped away from them, babies cry for their mothers. Egg industry is all torture. Cage free and free range are marketing ploys, there is so much sickness and suffering. Celery juice is helpful.

  • Stephanie says:

    What about raw cacao powder? Does this have the same effect as chocolate? I have given up coffee, but for my morning routine, I have been making a coconut milk hot chocolate with raw cacao powder instead. Please advise… Thank you!

  • Lori says:

    After feeling exhausted and generally UNWELL for quite some time i found and purchased your book entitled “Adrenal Fatigue”. I really think this is what is wrong with me in addition to a sluggish thyroid. I have seen a few Drs. who have “brushed me off” and wanted to give me an antidepressant and send me on my way. Can you recommend a Dr. on Long Island who is familiar with this diagnosis and treatment protocol? Thank you so much for your help and information.

  • kate says:

    I really think that Dr Wilson is wonderful with all his info.. Both his combo meds are the best supplements.. Everone should be checking out all his info.. Makes so much sense.. THANK U dr Wilson..

  • Izzy says:

    I have seen in some articles that grapefruit juice can help increase low cortisol levels. Do you recommend this to people with low cortisol & low DHEA/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or does it have too much potassium?

    • af says:

      Hi Izzy,

      Dr. Wilson generally does not recommend fruit juices, as they often contain high amounts of sugar and/or potassium. Also, Dr. Wilson does not recommend taking things to lower or raise, but rather take things to balance and support. I hope this helps. Let us know if you have any further questions. Thank you for writing!

  • Claudia says:

    I have been ill for several years and have gone to countless Doctors; in my pursuit to get healthy I have not been able to get any answers or help. After reading about adrenal fatigue it seems I have all of the symptoms listed. I recently tried a a homeopathic remedy called Adrenal-Tone and for a short time I feel like myself again. Now I think I may be on the right track to getting better. Can you recommend a Dr. who is aware of adrenal fatigue and who lives near or in Rochester Minnesota?

    Thank you,

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Claudia,

      Thank you for writing. We’ve sent you en email regarding practitioners in this area. Let us know if you did not receive the email.

  • Jenny says:

    Can you please recommend a practitioner near Southgate, Michigan? That is located in southeast Michigan.

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Jenny,

      We’ve sent you an email regarding practitioners in your area. Please let us know if you did not receive it. Thanks for writing!

  • Jessie says:

    Can you recommend a practitioner in my area? I am in Boise Idaho.

    Thank you so much!

  • Alicia Martinez says:

    Can you please give me a name of a practitioner in Tampa, FL for adrenal burnout?

    Thank you!

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Alicia,

      We’ve sent you an email including practitioners in the Tampa area. Please let us know if you did not receive it. Thank you for writing!

  • Sara says:

    hi, I’m looking for a Practitioner in the Boston, MA area. Do you know of any?

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Sara,

      We’ve sent you an email including practitioner referrals for the Boston area. Please let us know if you did not receive it. Thanks for writing!

  • Jel says:

    Can you recommend a practioners in the uk?

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Jel,

      We do not have a list of practitioners in the U.K., though you may find help with our U.K.-based distributor, Nutri-Link. You can contact them by email at and by phone at 08450 760 402. We hope this helps!

  • Rhonda Audibert says:

    Can you please give me a name of a practitioner in Katy Texas area which is West of Houston Texas or Houston Texas area for adrenal burnout? I am presently taking Hydrocortisone with horrible side affects including weight gain.
    Thank you

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Rhonda,

      We’ve sent you an email including referrals in those areas. Please let us know if you did not receive it. Thanks for writing!

  • Barbara Prewitt says:

    I would like recommendation of adrenal specialist in Prescott Arizona….

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Barbara,

      We’ve sent you an email with referrals in that area. Please let us know if you do not receive it. Thank you!

  • Steffan says:

    Dear Adrenal Fatigue Team,

    I have AF. I am on Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Protocol.

    Dr. Wilson writes in his powerfully persuasive book on AF that those with AF generally suffer from low sodium and high potassium. The doctor therefore suggests a diet with more sodium and less potassium. For example, Dr. Wilson encourages drinking water added with sea salt and discourages eating bananas as they are rich in potassium.

    My question is:
    For someone with mild AF, is it OK/NOT OK to eat kidney beans and chick peas?

    I read that the two beans above have potassium, but I don’t know if they have enough of the mineral to disqualify as foods in an AF diet, as, say, banana is disqualified.

    I’m looking for a rough answer. I realize it’s impossibly difficult to give specific and narrow and concrete responses to questions such as these.

    I will greatly appreciate any guidance you can offer. And thank you, so much, for this comprehensive and clear website–so much here, so readable, so easily understandable. Very grateful!

    • Adrenal Fatigue Team says:

      Hi Steffan,

      Thank you for writing, and for your kind words! Generally speaking, kidney beans and chick peas would be fine for someone with adrenal fatigue. In his book, Dr. Wilson does note that beans are often best when combined with a whole grain, so that is something to consider. I hope this helps!

    • Robyn says:

      Have you had a blood panel test to see your specific levels? You cannot know your levels unless you get blood tests, otherwise it’s guessing. You have to get more than one. Try things, get blood tested periodically, if possible. I had things too high, other things too low. I would not have known. Some things are common sense, but some things need clinical proof.

  • Gabriole says:

    I have been struggling for 4 years with AF. Although Dr. Wilson’s book has been a great guide I would like to work with a practicioner. I found someone who is recommending pregenalone. Any comments on this hormone? Also is there anyone on your list in the Vancouver B.C. area? Thanks for any response to these questions.

  • K.gurt says:

    Can you recommend a practitioner in alabama?
    What is your opinion of adrenal glandular for adrenal exhaustion?

  • Josh DeWitt says:


    Can you please recommend AF practitioners
    in Colorado?



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