Healthy Living

Dietary Guidelines to Manage Fibromyalgia

Dietary Guidelines to Manage Fibromyalgia

Key Takeaways

  • An awareness of what you are eating is a key to understand how food impacts your symptoms.

Although there is no prescribed diet for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms, many individuals find that changes in their food intake — quality and quantity — impact the severity of their symptoms. An awareness of what you are eating is a key to understand how food impacts your symptoms.

Food Sensitivities

Sensitivity is a very common symptom of fibromyalgia, manifesting as sensitivity to light, sounds, and even certain foods. It is important for individuals suffering from this condition to be aware of how the food that you eat makes you feel. Many doctors suggest keeping a food diary, for at least two weeks, to observe patterns in your food intake and symptoms. Write down what you ate and how you felt during that day. Symptoms may include headache, fatigue and indigestion. It is very common for individuals to find that some foods they eat drastically increase their level of fatigue.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

For individuals who experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as part of their fibromyalgia, an elimination diet may be a helpful tool in determining the impact of foods on their symptoms. This process consists of removing a type of food, such as dairy or gluten, from the diet for six to eight weeks. The individual may notice decreased pain fatigue, as well as IBS symptoms, such as constipation and bloating.
Discuss with your physician any food sensitivities or allergies you believe you are experiencing. Your doctor may make a referral to an allergist for further food allergy testing. If you are eliminating foods from your diet, it may be helpful to consult with a nutritionist to make sure that you are getting all the nutrients you need.

Food as Energy

It is helpful to see food as the fuel that runs your body. The right foods will increase and maintain energy levels, as well as prevent fatigue. Small meals frequently, including high protein snacks, are anecdotally recommended for increased energy levels. Physicians and nutritionists suggest that individuals with fibromyalgia should always eat a breakfast consisting of protein and whole grains. This prevents fluctuations in blood sugar and will give you the energy to start your day off right, even if you are in pain.

Dietary Supplements

The complementary use of herbal supplements is a somewhat controversial practice, as they may interact with other prescriptions drugs or have certain side effects. If you are considering the use of any herbal supplements, please discuss with your healthcare provider. However, there is emerging evidence that some herbs can treat symptoms of fibromyalgia, such as anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Vitamin D

Body aches and pain are often attributed to a Vitamin D deficiency. Fibromyalgia patients may find that adding Vitamin D to their daily regimen may decrease the severity and extent of their pain. This can be accomplished through the natural synthesis of Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, a large glass of milk, or a pill.

Magnesium

Similarly, a lack of magnesium may also be a cause of muscle pain in fibromyalgia patients. Magnesium levels can be increased through the intake of green vegetables, beans, and whole grains. In addition, it may be taken in pill form.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a supplement commonly used as an alternative to sleep medications. It has been proven to regulate the sleep cycle and result in more restful, restorative sleep. Due to the connection between sleep and pain, it has also been linked to decreased levels of pain in fibromyalgia patients.

Traditional Herbs

Grape Seed - can be used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce muscle pain

St. John’s Wort - may be used as an alternative to muscle relaxers to reduce muscle stiffness and pain

Valerian - can be used to ease insomnia and anxiety