As many may already know, some foods can without a doubt trigger the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia, and even worsen them if they are already present. Diet can play an important role in a fibromyalgia patient’s well-being, and those with it have to keep in mind what they can and cannot eat. While it may be difficult for patients to find the best options, especially if they are out eating with their friends and family or going grocery shopping to prepare their own meals, it's important for patients to observe and be aware of the best foods for their health. Here are several suggestions and tips to help fibromyalgia patients with their daily diet:
Meals that should be avoided
As a general rule of thumb, people with fibromyalgia will want to steer clear of any artificial or processed meals, including those that are prepared with seasonings that are replete with chemically flavored enhancers. For this reason, those that are struggling with the disease must learn to take certain precautions when shopping for food and ingredients and learn to choose the ones that will benefit them the most when it comes down to preventing the flare-ups of symptoms.
Read the labels
In short, fibromyalgia patients must become label readers in order to avoid the unnecessary consumption of items that may trigger their symptoms. As many people would agree: prevention is often the best treatment. In this sense, learning to identify the harmful ingredients is a very effective way to offset fibromyalgia symptoms, at least where nutrition is involved. When it comes to choosing the best items for a healthy diet, please note that when a label states ‘all natural ingredients’, it doesn’t always translate to healthy food.
The problem with all-natural foods revolves mainly around the Food & Drug Administration’s definition of the term, which states that certain foods may be labeled in this manner as long as they have no synthetic or artificial substances to enhance their flavor. For some time, this definition has helped to identify chemically-enhanced foods from their natural counterparts. However, with the arrival of genetic engineering and modified foodstuffs, the line between natural and synthetic ingredients has been blurred considerably. While these ingredients may be all-natural indeed (at least to some extent), it’s difficult to tell which processes were used in the creation of said ingredients. In this sense, it’s better to take the all-natural label with a grain of salt, and read the label in case there are signs of any artificial additives or at least any notes which explain the process through which the product was created.
For meats and poultry, the labels are generally truthful when they claim that the product is organic. However, when it comes to fruit and vegetables, it’s another story. The United States Department of Agriculture’s definition of organic fruits and veggies references that said products are sown and grown without any type of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or any artificial products to aid their development, which is actually pretty truthful. However, the real problem behind this definition lies not in the growing of the product itself, but in its shipping and packaging for sale. Fruits and vegetables that read ‘100% organic’ are usually safe for consumption, as they contain no additives or chemicals to preserve extend their shelf lives. However, products that only have an ‘organic’ label might be supplemented with preservatives, or other potentially harmful substances.
There’s also a tricky play on words with products that reference their origin as “made with organic ingredients.” While they certainly may contain several organic ingredients, this label doesn’t necessarily rule out the presence of other non-organic products, which definitely defeats the purpose of choosing some food. Some unscrupulous companies might take advantage of this simply loophole to sell their consumers ‘organic’ items while maximizing their profits by actually selling products that are only partly organic.
Foods that give an energy boost
Since one of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia is feeling fatigue, eating foods with energy will certainly help patients get through their day-to-day. Foods that typically give high energy have a large amount of fiber and a low amount of added sugars. These include:
- leafy greens
Some may also wonder if they should go vegetarian, or even vegan, as normally the diet for them is high in antioxidants. While there have several studies that say fibromyalgia patients would have less pain if they go on a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is not for everyone.
Fibromyalgia and gluten
In recent years, gluten-free has gathered momentum among the circles of nutritionists, clinicians, and consumers. Gluten is used to refer to a small group of proteins that are mostly present in flour grown in dry lands. Said proteins are mostly present in products such as wheat, though they can also be found in ingredients such as barley, rye, and oats. In general, gluten is not a substance necessary to humans, as it is a form of ‘empty proteins’ which contains little amounts of essential amino acids. For this reason, there are seldom consequences when replacing this ingredient from the diet of any person, especially when individuals must adopt a gluten-free diet.
Fortunately, more awareness of gluten has prompted manufacturers to create gluten-free versions of popular products, such as bread, flour, pancake mix, and many more. Monosodium glutamate is another common product which is used as an additive in certain foods to enhance their flavor. While this product does not contain gluten, it is also an ingredient which sellers strive to hide, as it might trigger the symptoms of those who suffer from fibromyalgia or celiac disease.
When it comes to food-triggered symptoms of fibromyalgia, the elimination of both gluten and monosodium glutamate has reported alleviating symptoms in a natural and organic manner, without the need to consume medication or follow treatments.