|Smelling coffee beans can help wake you up and lift your mood!|
One of the most common questions I get from my IC diet coaching patients is "How can I get more energy if I have to give up caffeine?"
Trust me, I hear every word you are saying. Although some interstitial cystitis patients do ok with low acid coffee, most IC/BPS patients need to give up coffee entirely.
Many things can contribute to fatigue when you have IC. Obviously, sleep is compromised if you are getting up several times at night to use the bathroom. In addition, many medications patients use, including narcotics, anti-anxiety medications, and antihistamines cause drowsiness. Even the mental activity of navigating the changes associated with being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be exhausting.
How does a person deal with such a situation? Trust me, it is far from hopeless. Here are 14 things you can try to get more energy without caffeine:
- Work with your physician. Once you rule out any other medical conditions, ask if you can take less medication that contributes to drowsiness if you can get your symptoms under control by modifying your diet.
- Nurture a positive attitude about giving up caffeine. Remind yourself that this is something you can control, unlike many other aspects of the disease.
- Establish regular sleep habits. Most people, sick or not, require at least 8 hours of sleep at night. If you know you will spend a portion of that in the bathroom, plan to “sleep” even longer.
- Take mini-naps during the day if necessary. Find a quite place to lay your head down for a few minutes. Set the alarm on your cell phone for 15 to 20 minutes. When you consider that you are much more alert after these mini-naps and accomplish more, the time is worth it.
- Eat smaller, well-balanced, low fat meals. High calorie meals can slow even the healthiest person down as the body diverts energy to the process of digestion. Have a handful of high protein nuts or vitamin packed carrots as an afternoon snack instead of a handful of sugar cookies.
- Drink plenty of water. One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue. You may have kicked the caffeine habit, but have you developed a water habit?
- Use a small personal fan in your workspace. The cool air movement can keep you feeling more alert.
- Expose yourself to bright lights. If you have a choice, move your desk near a sunny window. If that isn’t possible, ask to have brighter lights installed in at least part of your workspace.
- Use citrus scented hand lotions. That burst of citrus as you moisturize your hands can wake you right up! I have citrus lotions all over the place, in my home, in my car, and in my purse. You can find them in specialty stores like Bath and Body Works, Body Shop (try the Bergamot), and William Sonoma. Lotions with a strong minty scent work good too!
- Place a bowl of coffee beans near your workspace. Or, keep a small mesh bag of the fragrant beans handy. Science shows that even the smell of coffee can be enough to brighten your mood and provide you with a flash of energy.
- Fill your spaces with fresh plants. Plants use the carbon dioxide we exhale and provide us with fresh, energy boosting oxygen. Don't forget to get a walk in the great outdoors as well!
- Watch your posture. Sit up tall! Don’t make your lungs and heart work harder than they have to. Just sitting tall can give you the feeling of having more energy.
- Get regular exercise. One of the first things we are tempted to give up when we are tired is exercise, when that is the opposite of what we should do! As you make the rest of your body stronger, it becomes more efficient at accomplishing everyday tasks. In fact, people who are fit often report needing less sleep than their out-of-shape neighbors do.
- Finally, find a way to stimulate your funny bone. Many times when we live with a chronic illness, we forget to enjoy some of the simpler things in life. Watch funny television shows and movies instead of draining yourself with emotional dramas. Subscribe to a joke of the day to great you each morning in your email. Find an excuse to laugh every day!
Adapted from the forthcoming book: Living Positively with Interstitial Cystitis: A Confident Choices Book by Julie Beyer, MA, RD.
Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate
Helping Yourself Is the First Step to Getting Well
For step by step guidance for creating your own personal interstitial cystitis meal plan, see: Confident Choices®: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet.
For some basic, family-style, IC bladder-friendly recipes, see: Confident Choices®: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder
For health care workers: Interstitial Cystitis: A Guide for Nutrition Educators
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