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SCD and GAPS Foods for Adrenal Fatigue

***Note: This is completely unscientific and based solely on my own personal experience. I will try to update with more menu plan ideas and recipes :)

Many people on message boards and mailing lists are asking questions about what foods to eat on SCD/GAPS to help with Adrenal Fatigue. So here I am documenting the foods I found helped my energy levels and some example menu plans. See my first post on Adrenal Fatigue for a brief overview of my symptoms and lifestyle management. I found the book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndrome to be a worthwhile read and explained all aspects of Adrenal Fatigue including lifestyle factors, however a lot of the foods listed did not fit SCD/GAPS. The book Rebuild from Depression was my main motivation for turning to organ meats, oysters, eggs and saturated fats for energy. I may not suffer from depression or postpartum depression, but the same dietary advice applies to adrenal fatigue.

These foods are listed in order of what I found to be best to least helpful for me. Yes I have eaten all these foods and consume most of them pretty regularly. Yes eggs & liver are THE best foods!

Eggs
One of the absolute best foods for adrenal fatigue. I eat 2-3 per day usually cooked in a way that leaves the yolk runny (soft poached, soft boiled, over-easy). Very important to get eggs from a good source. Look for a local farmer or buy organic, free-range, omega-3 eggs from a health food store. Duck eggs are also very good if you can find them. I get both chicken and duck eggs.

Meat
Eat red meat more often than poultry or fish. Eat organ meats as often as possible. Choose fattier cuts and slow-cook them, making sure to eat the fats. Don’t be afraid to try new meats, this will help get some variety into your diet! Always use a bit of sea salt on your meats.
*liver, bone marrow, bone broths, fish eggs (roe), heart, tongue
*lamb, pork (including bacon), beef, bison, elk, goat, venison
*duck, turkey, chicken
*oysters, muscles, scallops, wild salmon, wild fish

Fat
Eat lots of saturated fat. I mean lots. If you think you’re eating too much saturated fat, eat about 2 tbsp more per day and then that might be enough. Be careful not to eat too much Omega-6 in the form of vegetable oils and nuts. It is best to cut down on Omega-6 fats than to have to increase Omega-3. You actually do not need that much Omega-3. If you are not able to get grass-fed pastured meats/fats and you eat nuts, then supplement with a small amount of fish oil. Don’t cook with olive oil, just drizzle it over food after cooking it in another fat.
*ghee, butter, coconut oil
*lard, tallow
*olive oil

Yogurt & Cheese
Some adrenal diet advice says to cut out all dairy even yogurt and cheese. I found them quite helpful although you may want to test out your own tolerance for the SCD yogurt and cheddar cheese by doing an elimination stage and slowly introducing them while checking for symptoms. One very important thing is to always buy organic milk products. If you can find raw milk & cheese that would be best. I currently (as of 2010) use whole pasteurized non-homogenized milk, and raw milk cheddar. I suggest eating dairy products as snacks during the day rather than as breakfast or late night snacks. Eggs and meats are better for stabilizing blood sugars, sodium levels and energy. Always add sea salt to your yogurt!
*24-hour SCD yogurt
*cheddar, monterey jack, swiss cheeses

Vegetables
When I started SCD I actually did not eat much in the way of vegetables as I didn’t seem to tolerate anything fibrous. Don’t worry if you can’t have too much, just eat what you can tolerate. Focus more on fats, broths & organ meats for vitamins and minerals. If on SCD, you may not want to try sauerkraut right away, but I wish I had!
*avocado (raw), sauerkraut
*zucchini, beets, green beans, red peppers, onions, garlic, spinach, kale, collards, chard, arugula, artichoke hearts
*squash, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower,

Fruit & Honey
Be careful with fruit. With adrenal fatigue it’s important to keep blood sugar levels and sodium steady. Eating high-sugar and potassium filled fruit on its own can be problematic. Use honey only if necessary to sweeten yogurt a little bit. Don’t eat dried fruit until you are well.
*blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries
*lemons, limes
*apples (including applesauce), pears, papayas, pineapple
*bananas, melons, mango, oranges

Nuts and Seeds
Don’t overdo nuts. It’s the #1 mistake people do on SCD. I have done it many times! I also find I do better with properly soaked and dehydrated raw organic nuts.
*walnuts
*almonds, hazelnuts, macademia nuts, pecans
*pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

Supplements
If you have a known deficiency found by a blood test or other medical tests, then definitely take a supplement until you reach normal levels.
If you take cod liver oil, fish oil, butter oil, etc, and you are doing ok with them then by all means continue them. Treat these as foods, you do not necessarily need to take them every day nor at the same time every day.
I find when dealing with supplements it’s best to have the help of a naturopath to guide you. I have repeatedly tried many vitamin and mineral supplements that really did nothing but frustrate me in having me try to remember to take them. I have never had any vitamin/mineral/oil/gland supplement help as much as eating liver, eggs, roe, and bone marrow have. Those foods give me energy!


Adrenal Fatigue Menu #1
Breakfast: 2 eggs soft-poached (or any preparation), 1 cup broth, sea salt, pickled beets, sauerkraut
Snack: 1 cup whole milk yogurt, 2 tsp honey, 1/4 cup blueberries
Lunch: Leftover Slow-cooker Basic Lamb Stew, add 1 tbsp butter/ghee after heated
Snack: 2 slices cheese, 1 apple with 1 tbsp almond butter (or applesauce with 1 tbsp butter/ghee), 1/2 cup broth with sea salt
Dinner: Beef Heart, Bacon, Butter and Onions, baked squash with 1 tbsp butter/ghee, sauerkraut
Pre-bed snack: 1 soft-boiled egg, sea salt

Adrenal Fatigue Menu #2 (egg-free)
Breakfast: Meatballs (any ground meat) with 1/4 cup Tzatziki sauce, sauerkraut, Roe on Roasted Golden Beets
Snack: 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup broth with sea salt
Lunch: Liver Pâté with Cranberries served on thin slices of cheddar cheese, cauliflower mashed potatoes
Snack: 1 cup whole milk yogurt, 2 tsp honey, 1/4 cup raspberries
Dinner: Beef roast with mushroom sauce, asparagus sauteed in coconut oil & garlic
Pre-bed snack: 1/2 cup broth with sea salt; 1 tsp coconut oil mixed with 1 tsp honey


Kat

I have been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since January 2008 to recover from Celiac disease. As part of the diet, I don't eat grains, sugar or potatoes and prepare all my meals from scratch.

25 Comments

  1. This is an awesome post Kat! I've really been eating more and more like this lately and not only does it help, but really feel the difference when I stray and eat less nutritious foods. I am right there with you on the meat and fat issue to. Gotta have it!!

  2. Liver is just the ultimate energy food.

    It's so easy to over eat nuts. I have restricted myself most of my time on SCD and yet I still end up eating too much. I noticed lately going some days without any nuts, then a few days with just a small handful has helped a lot.

  3. Hi Kat – reading your guidelines that helped you is quite interesting. Have your read the book Eat Right For Your Type? Just curious, are you an O blood type? It seems that some O's even when going gluten free…still have trouble with grains…wondering if my husband might fall into that category. Maybe the SCD diet would be better suited for him. thanks for the info, Ina

  4. I have read Eat Right For Your Type and I don't fit the recommendations at all. I do best on what they say is the 'O' diet but that's not my blood type. I would be curious to see more anecdotal references and/or scientific studies to support the Blood Type diet. I'm a bit skeptical as to why there isn't more work done to back it up (maybe because it doesn't work?).

    Also most people coming from a SAD diet to any of the blood type diets would probably benefit to some degree from cutting out processed food.

    I actually don't know my blood type, but with one parent as AB, I can't be O.

  5. Thx for this post! I've been lurking on the yahoo group and thought this was interesting. Not sure if I have adrenal fatigue but I've noticed that I'm always happier after I eat and grumpy before and that no matter how 'healthy' I seem to get, I'm still tired half the day. This is frustrating after so much work to eat well!
    RIght now we are in the intro (6 weeks) and I'm sure we are overdoing the nuts since I feel like we hardly have any other options for snacks (kids are sensitive to eggs and not eating fruit yet).
    I've got the liver and tongue but have to get it into the menu plan more frequently. I'm assuming that I can boil any of these things in broth and they'll be edible? Does the tongue need to be peeled after cooking?
    Thx for blogging – we all need so much support in this journey!!
    Blessings,
    Andrea

  6. Hi Andrea, Sounds like you guys are doing well starting this diet. I hope you don't get too frustrated, it's still early on. Part of healing does involve letting yourself rest appropriately. The energy will come soon enough. It helps when you can start to get more variety in your diet once food sensitivities diminish.

    Liver can be boiled in broth and eaten like that if you don't mind the taste. I tend to mix it with a lot of stuff to mask the flavor. Tongue should be boiled in water, then peeled, then you can slice/chop it and add it to broth. Tongue is much milder flavored than liver, so it's certainly worth a try!

    Love your blog, such cute kids :) I'm going to be trying to put up more kid-friendly recipes very soon. Seems to be a lot of need for that.

  7. Great post Kat! I haven't been specifically suspicious of adrenal fatigue in myself, but these are all just plain good recommendations for building health and vitality, anyway. I've got a few people I'll send it to…

  8. Hi Kat,
    I'm interested in your blog because I think my husband has yeast issues & want to go more towards GAPS/SCD in our eating. Do you have a feedburner option so we can subscribe to posts via email? Thanks :)

  9. Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by! I don't have an email option, but will figure out how to put one up before the next post.

  10. I now have an email subscription option. Just enter your email in the box on the right hand side of the page and click Subscribe. :)

  11. I'm not afraid of liver, butter, and red meat!! hahahha

    For me, liver is the #1 food that helps me to deal with fatigue. I also like it because its fairly cheap!

    This is a great post :)

  12. great post Kat, nice to get recipes that a person has actually tried with honest review. Being good for us is not always enough of a reason to eat.things like Liver or Oysters. I do not mind the taste of either one it is the texture! Unable to get past it before. With some new recipes I will try again. Always beef liver? or have you ever tried chicken livers? Oysters are a goal of mine as well. I really need the Iron from both. Anyone else have ideas to get past texture?

  13. I use beef, pork or lamb liver as I don't have a good easy source yet for chicken. Also chicken isn't as high in nutrients so I haven't really bothered trying to source it. I don't notice that much difference in taste.

    For texture I suggest trying a pate and really puree it for a while in a food processor to make it as smooth as possible. If you do want to eat it as stir-fry then make sure to cut the liver into small pieces. I find the smaller I cut them the less icky feeling I get, and the more the liver takes on the flavours you add to it.

  14. @TJ Snacks without dairy or fruit are a bit tough. Some people enjoy meatballs or beef jerky. I like caviar, hardboiled eggs, leftover fish and pickled beets as snacks.

  15. Great post! Knowing what foods to seek out and which to avoid is really helpful. I recently finished reading Marcelle Pick’s book on adrenal fatigue, Are You Tired and Wired? She includes a 30-day Eating Plan with lots of healthy recipes – it’s a great step-by-step guide to help get you started on a healthy adrenal friendly diet. I highly recommend!

  16. We just started the GAPS Diet, listened to the interview with Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride and found it most fascinating since we have leaned towards vegetarianism for many, many years. We have her book Gut and Psychology Syndrome and have gone on The GAPS DIET site and DrNatasha – Blog but was hoping to find some good organ meat sites.
    Your Adrenal Recovery Program looks excellent and the liver hints, thank you.
    We will share your site with several other of our good friends.

  17. Great article! But, man… I’m vegan and I think I’ve got some adrenal fatigue (because I have anxiety and very dark circles under my eyes). I eat a LOT of raw fruits (mostly bananas, which I’ve read are adrenal replenishers, but that’s not working!). Any tips on healing my adrenals without adding animal foods into my diet?

    • @jenna I really don’t know how to overcome the health issues without adding some animal foods. Sorry! I just haven’t seen any good examples of it, other than eating a ton of fruit but if that’s not working you’ll need to do something more. I do know that some previously vegan people have done well adding in eggs and dairy first. You can find local sources of those pretty easily where you know the animals are being treated well.

  18. I have adrenal fatigue diagnosed by my doctor. I am also on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Is honey okay for adrenal glands? I’ve been baking muffins and cookies with raw honey and after I eat these for a few days I feel more fatigued. Is there a daily limit of how much honey should be eaten? Thanks!

  19. I have adrenal fatigue diagnosed by my doctor. I am also on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Is honey okay for adrenal glands? I’ve been baking muffins and cookies with raw honey and after I eat these for a few days I feel more fatigued. Is there a daily limit of how much honey should be eaten? The baked goods are made with almond flour as per SCD diet. Thanks!

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