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A Dietitian's Guide to Productivity and Beating Burnout - Through Food

In the chaotic whirlwind of balancing work, a social life, and ‘me time’, it's no wonder that more and more people experience burnout. The feeling when fatigue takes hold, leaving us drained, and devoid of inspiration is all too common. But it turns out the remedy to revitalize your mind and body might just be hiding in plain sight—your very own pantry.

After 7 years working with large corporations advising on nutrition guidelines to help boost productivity and reduce burnout, registered dietitian, Chrissy Williams, founded her own practice. Now a full-time mompreneur, Chrissy is helping women improve their metabolic health, balance their hormones, and recover from burnout. Through a combined functional and conventional lens and a realistic approach, Chrissy Williams helps women feel their best in all stages of life, from fertility to menopause.

Here, Chrissy breaks down the science of burnout, foods to boost your productivity, and all the things you may be doing that’s holding your body back. 

Q1: What is adrenal fatigue and how does it happen? 

CW: When our brain (or more scientifically, the hypothalamus) perceives a threat, our adrenal glands start producing cortisol, the stress hormone. High cortisol levels puts the body in a 'fight or flight' response - increasing blood sugar, spiking adrenaline, while suppressing metabolic functions like immunity, digestion, libido. This 'high cortisol state' is meant to be temporary, restoring to normal levels after the major event. But, if the brain continues to signal chronic threats, it will trigger the adrenals to constantly pump out cortisol. If the adrenals are worked for too long, especially without the nourishment or fuel it needs to work well, they will burn out. The most common signs of burnout include chronic fatigue, brain fog, low libido, infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, low mood, irritability, unintentional weight gain (especially around the waist), and weight loss resistance.

Q2: How does stress/adrenal fatigue relate to nutrition?

CW: Nourishing your body with proper nutrition is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing stress, combating fatigue, and optimizing your metabolism.

Long-term low calorie diets or under-eating and imbalanced blood sugar causes more stress on the body (increased adrenal output). The adrenal glands are fueled by specific nutrients like magnesium, sodium, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin A, copper and whole food vitamin C. 

When adrenals are in overdrive, it burns through these specific nutrients quickly, and if not strategically replenished, leads to burnout.

Q3: What are the best foods to help boost productivity and address adrenal fatigue?

CW: Key nutrients are essential for supporting the adrenals and natural energy metabolism. 

If you're feeling like you're running on empty, dealing with adrenal fatigue, or simply craving a productivity boost, these are my top food picks!

  • Avocado: rich in magnesium, copper, iron and vitamin E. 

  • Citrus fruits: rich in copper, vitamin A and whole food vitamin C

  • Coconut/coconut water: rich in potassium, vitamins A, E, K and healthy fats

  • Dark leafy greens: rich in iron, vitamins A, C, E, K and contains B vitamins

  • Quality lean proteins, like grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and fish: rich in B vitamins and blood sugar balancing

I also love adrenal mocktails. They’re a fun way to add in high amounts of adrenal-supportive nutrients at once! This recipe is currently on repeat! 

Q4: If people want to support their energy and stress levels, what are the top 3 things they should start and stop doing?

CW: First, start optimizing your nutrition. Balance your blood sugar and prioritize mineral replenishment. Start eating a balanced breakfast within 2 hours of waking and avoid long gaps between meals during the day. Prioritize quality, nutrient-rich foods asap! 

Physical Stressors: Next, stop or try to minimize physical stressors. Treat chronic underlying infections, especially in the gut, decrease inflammation, reduce endocrine disruptors, and assess your workout strategy. Exercise is great, but too much high intensity exercise too often can also stress the body. 

Gut Health: Consider functional gut tests if you’re dealing with any digestive issues, hair mineral assessments are great for determining current adrenal status and metabolic type, and, of course, hormone testing for insights into how stress is impacting your body. 

These have been game changers for my clients as we are able to create individualized recovery protocols. 

Stress Resilience: Then, start to build stress resilience. Prioritize nervous system support. Incorporate deep belly breath breaks throughout the day (I always suggest doing this before each meal). Try journaling and/or meditation, restorative movement like walking or yoga, self-development exercises like improving your self-talk, gratitude, and stress-management techniques, and addressing any long-term traumas with therapy.

The effects of stress can be relentless. But if you provide your body with the right nutrients through food and targeted support with supplements, your mental clarity, productivity, and overall well-being don’t have to suffer. 

Start with the basics:

For added support to help build your body’s resilience against stress: Fatigue Ease

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