Tired of Being Tired? Come Awake!
Afternoon slump. Chronic fatigue. Insomnia. Are you tired of being tired all the time? There are many causes for this modern-day problem, but it’s important to tackle this issue for more than just the purpose of not feeling tired.What is the biggest problem with being tired all the time? Because a tired person is too worn out or exhausted to accomplish God’s plan for their life. Before I figured out the foods that triggered sudden extreme fatigue, I remember feeling completely out of commission within an hour of eating it. I was no good. I fell asleep sitting up on the couch and the baby was crawling up the stairs. I would feel like I was going to fall asleep driving. But even more dangerous, I did not have the mental or physical energy to do God’s work–from small things like encouraging those around me to big things like stopping to share God’s love with that homeless man under the freeway overpass.
I think Satan knows this. In fact, I’m pretty sure he does. I’m pretty sure he uses whatever he can to get us so tired that we can’t even begin to bother ourselves with God’s daily work for us. We become walking zombies that float through life without fulfilling our mission.That is why I want to cover this incredibly common health problem. There is work out there for us to do–good work that leads others to God, encourages others, fulfills our purpose, gives us joy, and stores up rewards for us in heaven. So take a look at the common causes of this problem and see if you can carry out God’s plan for your life!Diet
There are many ways the Standard American Diet can cause fatigue. I’m not just talking about needing a little nap either. I’m talking about the knock-out kinda feeling you get after eating a meal. Here are a few of the common culprits found in our diet:
1. Large meals. Overeating is definitely a factor in a subsequent knock-out. The trick to avoid this problem is to eat only until that first clue of being full appears. Eat no more! (As an added bonus, eating until just barely full or right before you feel full will also cause your stomach to shrink within a couple of weeks, making it impossible to overeat. This is a great way to lose weight!) Eat smaller meals and more snacks.
2. Sugar. Diets high in refined sugar cause a person’s insulin levels to spike and then suddenly drop, causing energy highs and lows. Cut back on or cut out refined sugars. (Check out our 30-day sugar challenge for help!)
3. Processed Foods. White foods (like enriched flour, pastas, white rice, white bread, etc.), fried foods, fast food meals, and other processed foods drain our body of energy because they are so difficult to digest. They also often deplete our body of nutrients (rather than adding them back in like food is meant to do). Work on gradually reducing your intake of processed foods while transitioning to whole foods (foods in their most natural state). Fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes give us natural energy, just the way God intended! Hippocrates knew this thousands of years ago: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” (Watch for an upcoming post: Diet Transition 101 for help on gradually changing and improving your diet to natural, whole foods.)
4. Soy Products made with soy, especially genetically-modified soy (which is all soy products not labeled as “organic”) were the major culprit I discovered in my cases of that knock-out fatigue. I was eating chips and crackers made with soybean oil in the late morning and felt that fatigue kick in around lunch time. Other than chips and crackers fried in soybean oil, other soy products include soy milk, tofu, and vegetarian “meats.” After cutting out this ingredient in my diet for months, I tested my theory by consuming restaurant food (almost ALL restaurant foods are made using soybean oil)–Chipotle to be exact. Sure enough, an overwhelming feeling of fatigue came over me just an hour or so later, and it didn’t leave for TWO DAYS! Ugh. I won’t do that again!
5. Dehydration is a common and often overlooked cause of fatigue. Even being mildly dehydrated can cause a feeling of sleepiness. Dehydration can reduce blood flow to organs, slowing down your brain–and you along with it. To determine exactly how much water you need to drink each day, take your weight and divide it in half. That is the number of ounces of clean (fluoride- and chlorine-free) water you need to be drinking each day.Imbalanced Gut
Experts say at least 70 percent of your health is in your gut. It contains one-half of your entire body’s nerve cells, so your health lies completely dependent on the condition of your gut. A poor diet and use of prescription drugs, especially antibiotics, is the quickest way to destroy that condition. In fact, that’s why it’s so common for people with neurological disorders like autism and schizophrenia to also suffer from bowel problems. An imbalanced gut is a major cause of depression.
An imbalanced gut is also very likely to cause malabsorption problems. When our bodies do not absorb the vitamins it does consume, a person usually becomes deficient in one or more nutrients. Anemia is one that is very common in this situation and is a very familiar reason for fatigue.
Knowing these things, it’s easy to see how our gut health can affect our energy levels. Consequently, a healthy diet and a good source of daily probiotics (good bacteria) is essential to a life with energy!
Exercise is a natural energy-booster. Most recently, it was even discovered in one study to boost energy levels and strength to fight cancer in breast cancer patients on chemotherapy. More than 90 percent of studies done on this topic proved that sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program improved fatigue compared to people who did not exercise. The studies also proved that exercise has a better effect on energy levels than medications.
Another study also discovered that participants who exercised regularly also fell asleep much easier at night and stayed sleeping better than those who did not exercise regularly.
Unfortunately, if diet issues are not addressed, many people will not even have enough energy to think about exercising. In addition to making dietary changes, you can start by turning off the television!
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS/SLEEP AIDS
As a result of these lifestyle factors, many insomniacs resort to prescription drugs and over-the-counter sleep aids to help them sleep rather than addressing the underlying problem. While these remedies may work at first, research is proving that they do more damage in the long run.
In fact, the U.S. FDA has had evidence for over 15 years that over-the-counter sleep aids such as Tylenol PM don’t offer significant benefits to consumers. They are found to offer only slightly better results than placebos.
Prescription selections like Ambien have been proven to be effective for only about two weeks. They also cause people to gain weight, eat while sleeping, increase a person’s risk of getting in a traffic accident, and increase drowsiness throughout the day. (Ambien ranks among the top 10 drugs found in the bloodstream of impaired drivers.) As a final and very dangerous side effect, these drugs are also addictive.
Stress, worry, and anxiety can be directly attributed to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, headaches, stomach ulcers, lowered immune function, insomnia, diarrhea, and yes–chronic fatigue. While the average American is likely to brush off the health warnings of this type of lifestyle, King Solomon knew of the link between our emotional health and our physical health thousands of years ago:
Proverbs 14:30: A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.
Proverbs 3:7-8 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Sometimes, we stress ourselves out over the future. God is in control of that. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (NLT) No amount of worrying about our future will change the outcome. I guess it will, in fact, since it will adversely affect our physical health. But it will definitely not affect it in a positive way.
Sometimes, we stress ourselves out over what other people are doing. The Bible says in Matthew 7:2, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The only cure to this is God–trusting Him, giving Him control, relinquishing judgment and vengeance to Him, and believing His plans for the future. We were not meant to go partake this difficult journey of life on Earth alone. If you do not have a one-on-one relationship with God, I encourage you to pray and seek Him. The next verse of Jeremiah 29 (12-13) tells us the Lord then says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
LACK OF PURPOSE
Like stress, living without a sense of purpose can drain the physical and emotional energy of someone completely out in a short period of time. We were created for a purpose and true life can only be found in fulfilling that purpose.
But what happens when we don’t know that purpose, or even believe that there is only one specific purpose for our lives? Fatigue. Depression. Lack of joy.
Andrei Bitov, a Russian novelist, grew up under an atheistic Communist regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, “In my twenty-seventh year, while riding the metro in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, preempting the future entirely, let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no sense. Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a moving staircase, got out of the metro and walked into God’s light.” (Excerpt from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren)
Colossians 1:16 says, “Everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” (MSG) As Rick Warren says, “We discover that meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives.”
So what will you do? Will you wake up and fulfill God’s purpose for your life? It’s worth far more than anything else you could pursue! As the following song says, “Come awake, let us rise up from the grave!
If you’re ready to change your family’s food habits but don’t know where to start, check out HFFG’s 40-Day Challenge here!