Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Diet

Eating a healthy diet and getting the best nutrition can help you manage many illnesses, and that doesn’t exclude the persistent tiredness and mental strain of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

By eating the right foods — the types of foods that everyone, not just those with CFS, should eat — we all can give ourselves more natural energy and eliminate tiredness and fatigue. And for those with CFS, following that advice as closely as possible is even more important to getting the chronic fatigue help you need.


Foods to Avoid

For chroniChronic Fatigue Syndrome and Dietc fatigue patients, avoid processed, refined carbohydrates, such as the sugar or white flour found in foods such as white bread, crackers, cookies, cakes, and soda.


  • All refined sugar – except for a little honey if you really need something sweet. This includes muscovado, fructose, molasses, and rice syrup etc, any sugars that have been manufactured in some way. Refined sugar exhausts the adrenals and yours are exhausted already, so they can’t cope with the rollercoaster ride that sugar gives them!


  • Cut out wheat and corn (maize) completely in any form and try to only eat grains in their whole form, unprocessed by factory means. Many people with impaired immune function cannot cope with modern wheat and maize exhausts the adrenals as it releases its starch quickly into the blood stream and contains lectins (proteins) that inhibit metabolic function. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome too then just eat a little brown rice or quinoa and leave the other grains – they are tough to digest.


* Due to the presence of phytic acid in wholegrains – they are often poorly assimilated and bind with minerals in the gut, carrying them out of the body. The best way to maximise your absorption of grains is to soak them in water with a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice added, at room temperature for 24 hours. Drain and cook in the usual way. Alternatively, eat sourdough bread, which has a long and beneficial fermentation period.


* If you eat museli – switch to homemade Bircher Museli. Oats for porridge should also be soaked overnight in 3 times the quantity of water with a teaspoon of whey, or lemon juice and then cooked as usual in the morning. Add a little maple syrup or honey and some cream or greek yogurt.


  • Only eat dairy in cultured form and sparingly, live yoghurt, kefir and very small amounts of cheese are ok. Use nut milks, oat milk or a little goat or sheep milk. Some CFS sufferers have lactose intolerance and should avoid all uncultured dairy, and eat only yogurt that has been made at home and fermented for 24 hours to eliminate all lactose.

If you can get hold of raw, unpasteurised milk and cream, this is hugely beneficial.


  • Avoid soya. Soya contains hormone disrupters that can exacerbate CFS.


  • Minimise consumption of legumes (beans and lentils). When you cook them, soak for 24 hours and change the cooking water at least once to make them easier to digest.


  • Avoid all stimulants; coffee, tea, cocoa cola, chocolate, cocoa and alcoholic spirits.



What to eat


  • Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables, especially the bright and deep coloured ones. That way, you will maximise the range of nutrients you consume and increase your intake of those all-important antioxidants. Don’t eat too much raw veg to start with as it can be tough to digest. Invest in a steamer and steam everything together, adding it according to how long it takes to cook. Much less washing up when you are exhausted. Mashed vegetables such as squash, carrot and sweet potato are very nourishing, easily digested and comforting.


  • Eat your fats raw as much as possible and use coconut oil or animal fats such as lard, dripping, duck fat or goose fat to fry in rather than olive oil, which is unstable at high temperatures. Coconut oil is fantastic if you suffer with candida as it is anti fungal – use it in place of butter and for frying, or mix in a little honey, ground almonds or cashew butter and vanilla extract and freeze in ice cube trays for a delicious and healthy treat. Eat raw olive oil and butter – these are excellent immune supports. Add a little flax seed oil to your salad dressing to increase the omega 3 content and think about taking a good quality cod liver oil supplement to combat inflammation.


  • Eat lots of things that come from the sea. Sea food, fish and sea weeds are great metabolism regulators as they stimulate the thyroid and provide it with the building blocks it needs to function. Supporting the thyroid helps the adrenals as they are intrinsically linked. Sea salt is an adrenal tonic, so including a small amount of it in your diet is a good idea. Fish stock is a great metabolism and thyroid support – make bouillabaisse or add coconut milk, chili, tamari and coriander for an instant thai fish soup drink, to pick you up when you’re too shattered to eat.


  • Eat slow cooked food such as soups, stews, casseroles and braised meats, not only are they easy to prepare – all the work is done by the oven or stove – but they support your spleen and adrenals according to traditional Chinese medicine.



* Look at your plate as though it is a pie chart. Half of it should be vegetables, a quarter protein and fat (fish, meat, eggs, yogurt etc) and a quarter whole grains or carbohydrate. If you have irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut then the grain portion should be even smaller or non existant and you should try to get your carbohydrate from starchy vegetables (except white potatoes which are very fast releasing).