However, a healthy diet may help you have more energy. This is an important consideration for anyone, but particularly if you have fibromyalgia, which has been associated with fatigue. A good diet is likely to help improve your overall health, which may also help with your chronic pain.
The following tips may help you create your own fibromyalgia diet that works best for you:
Follow a Weight-Loss Diet if You’re Overweight
If you need to lose weight, a healthy diet will not only help you do that but also may help improve your fibromyalgia symptoms. A study published in Clinical Rheumatology1 showed that obese people with fibromyalgia had less pain and slept better when they lost weight. Researchers concluded that these fibromyalgia patients significantly improved their quality of life when they lost weight.
Eat Small Meals
Since fibromyalgia can be characterized by a lack of energy as well as pain, consider eating smaller meals throughout the day. Heavy meals may make you feel sluggish, so eat smaller, more frequent meals that will provide you with the food and calories you’ll need to convert to energy throughout the day.
Incorporate Plenty of Protein and Limit Sugar
Sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike and crash, and also can cause painful inflammation in joints and muscle tissue. You may feel more energy in the very short term after consuming refined sugar, but then you’ll feel more sluggish. Avoid sweets and instead eat foods that will help you have more energy, including whole grains such as oatmeal and protein-rich foods such as lean meats.
People with fibromyalgia frequently have difficulty sleeping, which can make them feel even worse. Cut back on caffeine or eliminate it entirely, and you’re likely to sleep better and have less pain. Avoid coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate after 3pm. And if you take any over-the-counter pain relievers, read the label to make sure they don’t contain caffeine, because many do.
Consider a Vitamin D Supplement if Your Levels Are Low
An Austrian study2 found an association – but not necessary a cause-and-effect – between vitamin D supplements and reduced fibromyalgia pain. Women with low levels of vitamin D found that their pain decreased when they were given supplements. Experts say vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic pain, so consider asking your doctor if you should be tested to determine if you’re deficient in vitamin D.
Look for Triggers
Some people with fibromyalgia have found that certain foods or additives may increase their pain, but this hasn’t necessarily been proven by research. Keeping a food journal may help you pinpoint if certain type of food or additive seems to aggravate your symptoms. Don’t be overly broad in eliminating an entire category of foods, but avoiding aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast, or gluten, which have frequently been identified by patients as dietary triggers, won’t do you any harm. By keeping a food journal over time, you’ll be better able to identify foods that might make your pain worse.
Get Your Doctor’s Approval
Before you make any changes to try a fibromyalgia diet, talk to your doctor about the impact they could have on your overall health. He or she can advise you based on your specific health concerns.
2 Kiran Patel, M.D., pain medicine specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Houman Danesh, M.D., director, integrative pain management, The Mount Sinai Hospital, New Yor