DIET AND FYBROMYALGIA
Unlike many diseases, fybromyalgia is not easily diagnosed or treated. Symptoms vary between patients and flare ups come for no reason, or so it seems. There are triggers that can actually initiate a flare up of symptoms. Some of these triggers are found in foods that you may normally eat. Patients have been able to better manage their fybromyalgia if they can put their finger on what triggers their flare ups.
A good, balanced, nutritional diet is important for anybody, but for sufferers of fybromyalgia, it may mean the difference between manageable pain and out-of-control pain. While there are not many good studies that have looked at how diet can affect fibromyalgia symptoms, I think there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from patients. With that in mind, here are some of the ways that food can play a role in fibromyalgia and tips how you can modify your diet to support your overall health.
NOTICE HOW FOOD AFFECTS YOU
Many people with fibromyalgia are sensitive to particular foods, but it varies from person to person. In fact, 42 percent of fibromyalgia patients say their symptoms worsen after eating certain foods. Keeping a food diary is a good way to start identifying the foods that may aggravate your fybromyalgia symptoms. This is very helpful, not only for the patient but also for your doctor as he or she can use this diary to link certain foods with symptoms. It is very important to include the date, foods eaten that day, activities performed, and any symptoms you may experience afterward. If this diary is maintained for a period of time (at least two weeks or more), patterns will start to appear that may reveal triggers for your particular case of fybromyalgia.
If a patient has a lot of irritable bowel syndrome, one of the many fybromyalgia symptoms, an elimination diet may be just the ticket to find the culprit food. With this process, patients stop eating a certain food they suspect they are sensitive to for six to eight weeks. Then they add it back into their diet and see how they feel. Many times the symptoms come back and the patient realizes that they are sensitive to this food. Patients most often try eliminating dairy products or foods containing gluten.
When patients find the foods that they are sensitive to, it can make a big difference. Some people get a lot of benefit in terms of pain reduction, but more often a reduction in fatigue is seen and an improvement in irritable bowel symptoms like bloating and constipation.
If you think this fits your situation, tell your doctor. He or she may refer you to an allergist for food allergy testing. You may also want to consult a dietitian to make sure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients when you eliminate certain foods from your diet.
MAKE IT EASIER TO EAT HEALTHY
It makes good sense for anyone, but especially for someone with fybromyalgia, to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. A well-balanced diet can energize you to stay physically active and can potentially enhance your overall health. But if you’re struggling with pain and exhaustion, it’s hard to cook nutritious meals. Many patients are encouraged to seek out healthy foods that don’t require much preparation. Buy vegetables that are pre-washed and cut up. Also, if you have a health food store nearby, go to the deli section and buy small portions of pre-prepared foods like beet salad or quinoa to add variety to your diet.
FOODS THAT FIGHT FATIGUE
In addition to a good diet, there are many foods that, in themselves, can help keep your energy level more consistent and prevent fatigue. Also, certain dietary choices, like eating small meals frequently throughout the day, can help energy levels. For example, it can help to eat a snack with a little protein when you are feeling tired at three in the afternoon. A little pick-me-up can do the trick.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure you eat a breakfast that includes some protein and whole grains. One good breakfast that is very nutritional is oatmeal with a hard-boiled egg. This breakfast will prevent your blood sugar from spiking and will give you the right kind of energy to get you going through the morning, even if your body is feeling the aches and fatigue of fybromyalgia.
ADD THE SUPPLEMENTS
Although vitamin and nutritional supplements are usually beneficial to take, always tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking to treat your fibromyalgia. Some supplements can have significant side effects and may interact with medications.
As you modify your diet, keep in mind that people with fibromyalgia tend to benefit most from using a variety of approaches to managing their symptoms. Along with living a healthy lifestyle and taking any medications your doctor may prescribe for pain or other symptoms, there are many other therapies worth exploring. Try techniques like yoga, massage, and deep-breathing exercises. With your doctor, you can find the treatments that will help manage your fybromyalgia and provide the best quality of life for you.