Diet and Nutrition

Fibromyalgia: Foods to Eat and Foods to Run Away From

Fibromyalgia: Foods to Eat and Foods to Run Away From

It is possible to live with fibromyalgia.  When a person has fibromyalgia they experience musculoskeletal pain that typically creates problems with sleep, memory, extreme fatigue, and mood.  Women are more likely to experience fibromyalgia compared to men.  There is, unfortunately, no cure for fibromyalgia but it can be maintained through exercise, treatments, and eating or avoiding certain foods.

Some people experience stomach problems in combination with their pain.  Eating foods that are ideal for fibromyalgia can help with these types of symptoms.  There are some foods that should be limited and some that should be avoided completely.  If a person followed a strict Fibro-diet they can see relief in their symptoms. 

The great part about fibromyalgia diets is the fact there is a lot of information available.  It will be easy to choose the right food and avoid the wrong foods because someone else has already tested this out.  This is going to help anyone have a simple reference point for when they can't quite remember if that food is on the eat or not to eat list. 

Flare-Up Foods

Let's talk about foods that should be completely avoided.  No one ever likes to be told not to do something.  Giving up some of these foods will be hard.  Many people struggle with it, but it can be done!  Dedication to feeling better and controlling flare-ups is going to be a great motivator to stay away from these foods. A quick run down:

  • White bread, wheat, or carbohydrates
  • Energy drinks
  • Foods with a lot of sugar
  • Corn oils and sunflower oils
  • Fried foods
  • Heavily processed foods
  • Fast food
  • Red meats and animal fats
  • Nightshade vegetables

This list is comprised of many foods that are staples of people's diets.  It can be hard to switch over to a Fribro-diet because it can mean a complete overhaul of the way a person eats.  Bread and carbohydrates need to be avoided because gluten can exacerbate fibromyalgia symptoms.  Energy drinks have a lot of caffeine which is not recommended either.  Not to mention the sugar content in them. 

Sugars can cause inflammation and even change the way a person is able to function cognitively.  Fried foods can irritate anyone's stomach.  Someone who already has problems with digestion should completely avoid them.  Eating any of these foods can cause a person to experience more frequent flare-ups of fibromyalgia.

There are also some vegetables that should be avoided no matter how they are cooked.  Which seems unfair.  Even vegetables can be bad for a person with fibro.  The ones to avoid are called Nightshade vegetables.  The reason these need to be taken out of a Fibro-diet is the fact they have alkaloids.  Alkaloids make it difficult for a person's digestive system to break the food down causing irritation.

Many people that have fibromyalgia already have issues with their digestive system.  Adding in foods that make it more difficult to digest can make someone have a variety of problems like gas, diarrhea, bloating, and even nausea.  Sometimes prolonged exposure to foods like this can cause headaches and depression.

Foods to Cut Down On

As much as changing a diet can help a person with fibromyalgia, it is hard to completely cut everything out of one's diet.  These foods are not recommended in a Fibro-diet, but a person can get away with eating small portions of them.  Indulging in a little bit of these foods is okay if it is not multiple times in a day. Cut down on these categories:

  • lunch meats
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • gluten
  • dairy

Lunch meats are a very processed food.  They can irritate a person's stomach and should be limited to only eating once in a while.  While it may not be fun to cut down on alcohol consumption, it can help.  Alcohol uses yeast which can annoy a person's digestion.  This will cause the digestive tract to swell and become inflamed.

Caffeine puts adrenal glands into overdrive.  Too much caffeine is going to damage those glands.  The glands need to be healthy and functional since they help the body with digestion, sleep, and its emotional state through producing hormones. 

Gluten is in a lot of products.  It can be found in many grain oriented products.  Gluten is able to bother the intestines and stop them from working properly.  If too much gluten is eaten and not processed correctly a person may stop absorbing nutrients altogether. 

Products that contain dairy, whether they are eaten or drank, can irritate a person's stomach.  Irritation may be as small as some stomach cramping, may be severe like diarrhea, and can even cause a person to have headaches

Some of these foods are typically part of a healthy diet.  The problem that someone with fibromyalgia is that they have much more irritation of the digestive track naturally so many foods aggravate it.  While it is okay to have small portions of these items, eating too much could lead a person to have severe symptoms. 

What to Eat

With all of the bad foods out of a person's system, the next step is to concentrate on what is good to eat.  There are foods that actually help with the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  Some of the best foods are those that have a high content of magnesium.  Many fibromyalgia patients have low magnesium levels.

Magnesium is needed to help a person feel better.  It helps someone have more energy and lessens anxiety and stress.  An extreme lack of magnesium can present itself in a number of ways.  A person may feel fatigued, have high anxiety, have frequent migraines or headaches, and they will have general all over body pain.

There are a few categories of foods a person should look at to help their fibromyalgia.  The first is foods that are anti-inflammatory.  This is going to help a person's body function better and they will feel better.  These foods include:

  • garlic
  • ginger
  • turmeric
  • pineapple and berries
  • greens like kale, broccoli, or cabbage
  • healthy fats with omega-3
  • sweet potatoes (confusing since other potatoes should not be eaten)

To help reduce a person's body aches there are a few foods to look for:

  • ginger
  • salmon
  • olive oil
  • tart cherries
  • red grapes

For a quick boost of energy try:

  • eggs
  • yogurt
  • fish
  • sweet potatoes
  • almonds
  • oats
  • beans
  • spinach
  • honey
  • apples
  • oranges
  • bananas

Teas for a variety of reasons:

  • Peppermint will help calm the stomach.  It will reduce bloating and help a headache.
  • Ginger is an anti-inflammatory which can also help reduce a person's nausea.
  • Chamomile will help a person relax to go to sleep and help reduce their body aches.
  • Lemon can help a person reduce stress.  Adding it to a ginger or chamomile tea is a great way to get added benefits and taste.

An unlikely food that can help a person have better digestion is Kimchi.  For anyone unfamiliar with Kimchi it is a Korean food that has been fermented.  This fermentation is called lacto-fermentation.  It leaves many vitamins, fatty acids, enzymes, and probiotics in the food that other processes take away.  The process of lacto-fermentation makes the food better for digestion. 

There are many foods on this list that repeat.  Foods like sweet potatoes, ginger, and a variety of fruits can help a person in many ways.  They are good for the body and will help reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia.  Changing the way a person eats can be difficult.  However, the benefits greatly outweigh the difficulty of making the choice to change.