Have a nutritionally balanced and healthy diet
1. Aim to have food from all the food groups:
- Starchy food: bread, cereals, potato, rice, particularly slow-release types of starchy food with a low GI (glycaemic index) such as oats, pasta and wholegrains. Include a portion at every meal.
- Fruit and vegetables – aim to eat five or more portions a day. Fruit makes an ideal snack.
- Protein foods: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, pulses and vegetarian/soya alternatives. Include these at two meals.
- Milk and dairy products, including cheese and yoghurts. Also calcium-enriched milk alternatives, such as soya based products.
2. Avoid cutting out whole food groups from your diet unless you have food intolerances. If this is the case, consult a dietitian to ensure you are not missing out on essential nutrients.
3. Eat small amounts more frequently (every 3-4 hours) during the day for more sustained energy levels. Low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates provides slow-releasing energy and also help to keep your energy levels stable. Some examples of low GI carbohydrates are oats, wholegrain cereal and bread, sweet potato.
4. If possible, aim to have less processed foods in your diet as this helps to decrease any food intolerances to additives and preservatives. However, for some people who are not able to prepare food, they may need to have some of these foods in order to get enough energy for the day.
Food preparation is key
On good days, do some meal preparation to prepare for bad days. For example, cook a bolognese sauce (grate in veggies, such as carrot and zucchini) in bulk and freeze individual portions. Here are three easy to implement strategies:
- Make quick and easy meals that don’t require a lot of preparation, such as eggs and tomato on toast.
- Buy pre-cut veggies and cubed meat to reduced preparation time.
- Consider ordering from a fresh meal delivery service. Some of these meals could be frozen and defrosted as needed.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day
Aim to have about 2 litres of water per day.
Address food intolerances and chemical sensitivities
IBS-type symptoms such as wind/bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhoea and constipation are commonly experienced in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). If you suspect that you may have food intolerances then it would be best to consult a dietitian who will be able to help you eliminate these from your diet and ensure you are not missing out on essential nutrients. Often people with CFS may experience an improvement in symptoms once these foods have been eliminated.
For further guidance consult with a dietitian.