Fight burnout with these smart food choices

June 01, 2021

Always anxious and exhausted? You may need to improve your eating habits

The effects of the pandemic to our physical health couldn’t be more emphasized, but this is also pushing the limits of our mental health. It’s making us experience what psychologists call crisis fatigue as we’re now always on our toes looking out for other threats and stressors such as isolation, heavier loads at home and work, unemployment or economic loss, and civil unrest—all on top of our usual concerns. 

Crisis fatigue kicks in when stressful events happen for an extended period. Sekaya, a Filipino plant-based brand produced by Unilab’s natural products company Synnovate Pharma Corporation, explains that the human body is built to deal with bouts of stresses with the help of stress hormone cortisol, which can help fight inflammation, manage blood pressure, and protect overall health and well-being. 

But if you’re always on the edge for a longer time, excessive cortisol levels may have debilitating effects on your body. You’ll experience anxiety and irritability and have high blood pressure and heart palpitations. These may cause you to feel more tired and burned out, which may affect how you deal with people and everyday challenges. 

According to Dr. Rolando Balburias, a General Internal Medicine and IFM Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, while exercising, meditating, and establishing a daily routine can help us lower our stress levels and manage fatigue, we should also factor in what we eat. “It’s not just the hormones that are responsible for making us feel burnt out. What we eat also plays an important role because the lack of micronutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants in our body can cause energy deficiency - making us feel fatigued and stressed easily.” Here are some smart eating habits that we should keep in mind especially now that we’re dealing with long-term stress. 

smart food choices

Choose carbs wisely. Carbohydrates provide energy for our body, but highly refined carbs like sweets and white bread may cause carb crash. “To keep your energy up the entire day and prevent getting the afternoon slump, it’s important to eat unrefined carbs and foods high in fiber such as brown rice, spinach, kale, peas, beets, barley grass, and malunggay,” says Dr. Balburias. 

Eat foods that fight inflammation. Stress can cause inflammation, which is the body’s response to stressors. “The problem comes when you have chronic stress as it also causes chronic inflammation, which can be damaging to your health,” Dr. Balburias points out. Chronic inflammation affects the brain's ability to reach and maintain a level of alertness, leading to exhaustion. It’s also a common precursor or symptom of some health problems like depression and cardiovascular disease. 

smart food choices

“You can prevent inflammation by turning to anti-inflammatory eating. Start by eating the rainbow or eating colorful plant foods that are high in anti-oxidants like leafy greens, berries, whole grains, ginger, and turmeric,” he says. Omega-3 can also be beneficial in fighting chronic inflammation. Fish may be what's most associated with Omega-3, but it can also be sourced from soy, pecans and walnuts. 

Stay hydrated. Dehydration can aggravate fatigue since the body depends on water to lubricate joints, regulate temperature, ensure proper digestion, help transport oxygen to the cells, and more Dr. Balburias explains. “Staying hydrated throughout the day is a must, it’s not an option. Water can help you power through your exercises and daily tasks at home and at work.” 

Learn how to use protein efficiently. Insufficient protein intake can also contribute to fatigue as this macronutrient helps the body repair and build tissues and provides a longer-lasting energy source. To maximize how our body uses protein, Dr. Balburias recommends spacing it out over the day’s meals and snacks instead of loading it up in one sitting. “It would be also wise to eat your carbs with protein, since the latter takes longer to digest and absorb. When you eat it with a carbohydrate, it also slows the release of sugar into your bloodstream. You get sustained energy without the crash.” 

To increase our protein without stuffing our body with meat, the doctor suggests going for healthier plant protein sources such as whole grains, beans and other legumes, and nuts. 

With the many stressors that we face in our modern lives—even before COVID-19, burnout seems inevitable. But it doesn’t mean that we should accept it as it is, especially that burnout has also kept us from living our lives to the fullest and reaching our full potential. Beating burnout may feel like an uphill battle, but a simple tweak in our eating habits, along with adopting a healthier outlook on life, can help do the trick. 

Get more health tips and information, and know more about Sekaya and its plant-based products, follow @SekayaPH on Facebook and Instagram, and visit