Case study - Fatigue - A matter of Diet & Lifestyle
Updated: Mar 10
This is a very simple overview of a client that came to see me via video call, and an example of how sometimes the simplest of things can really make the biggest difference! This client had tried for years to overcome her symptoms and had struggled on thinking this was the way it would always be!
Although it is not always as straightforward as this.
A lot of the time it is! :)
( Case study used with permission 🙏 )
A 45-year-old female came to see me feeling very fed up. She came with many symptoms greatly impacting her life. She was overweight, suffering instances of chronic fatigue, severe anxiety and digestive issues which had been present for as long as she could remember.
She had been prescribed anti-depressants, diagnosed with IBS, and recommended to follow a low fodmap diet by her Gp, however, she was struggling to put into place any dietary changes herself.
After reading her nutritional health questionnaire I suspected there may be more going on with her digestive symptoms which were quite severe. (I won’t go into detail!) Her diet was very restricted, and she was suffering severe anxiety and ongoing stress.
My client’s self-esteem was at an all-time low, she felt like she just couldn’t stop eating the ‘wrong thing, stick to any regime, and she just wanted to lose some weight.
Initially, we looked at the following;
- Dairy intolerance and other food sensitivities. She was struggling to leave the house due to digestive issues.
- Vitamin D - Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients presenting with chronic fatigue and linked to irritable bowel syndrome.
- Ferritin/Iron/ B12 which if low could be contributing to her fatigue. We also looked at a full blood count.
- Thyroid panel to assess her thyroid function and rule out this as a cause of some of her symptoms.
- We also looked at her blood glucose levels, HBA1C.
We requested the majority of these, apart from the thyroid panel, through her Gp.
- We agreed to start with a trial elimination diet of dairy and gluten.
- We started adding to her diet appropriate foods to increase her nutrient status, support her digestive function and drown out processed foods, sugar and refined foods, and artificial additives.
My client's diet was very restricted. She tried to eat “healthy’ but felt she reacted to lots of foods, and had very little, if any, protein in her diet.
I gave her some dairy-free and gluten-free recipes and lots of meal ideas, and educated her on the benefits of certain foods and nutrients to help her symptoms.
We increased the nutrient density of her diet, balanced blood sugar levels with appropriate macronutrient ratios to help her anxiety and energy levels, and slowly introduced more fibre.
She couldn’t tolerate a lot of foods, especially leafy greens, garlic, onion, (foods that are particularly fibrous and prebiotic ( Feed the microbiota), and protein foods initially, but we stuck to the ones she could tolerate and gradually increased the amount.
Overall we increased the variety of foods in her diet. We also agreed it would be wise to eliminate both dairy and gluten for a short period of time to ascertain their effect on her symptoms.
Blood tests showed she was severely deficient in both vitamin D, and ferritin so I recommended supplementation to bring these levels back up to optimal levels.
With regular coaching, my client managed to navigate her new eating patterns and introduce more variety and enjoyment of food into her diet. We put into place new habits that helped her continue with her changes whilst also working and leading a busy life.
We also added in stress management and regular relaxation to further help her
symptoms. She started walking to alleviate stress and implemented deep breathing on a daily basis.
My client's symptoms improved very quickly. Sometimes it can take longer and involve digging a bit deeper but in this case, my client's symptoms greatly improved. Great for a case study! Her energy levels increased and she naturally lost weight (1 1/2 stone whilst we were working together!). Although this was not a major focus of our work!
Within a month her anxiety was reduced and she felt less stressed and better able to cope with her life. She was also enjoying her diet, as well as the treats she was still allowed!
We introduced dairy and gluten back into her diet, with dairy causing a relapse of her digestive symptoms. (Although she had not been tested my client had a lot of symptoms of lactose intolerance). She chose to remain dairy free and added a small amount of gluten back in.
What my client said
“Before seeing Julie I had felt so ill for such a long time and really thought I was a lost cause. With Julie’s help and expert guidance, I lost weight, and have lots more energy. My digestive symptoms are improved and I feel like a new woman! I have a life again! My diet is also a wonderful creation of colourful foods. I can't thank you enough, Julie!