I’m often asked what foods affect fibromyalgia. And what foods are best for fibromyalgia?
That’s because I sometimes respond to Facebook posts about my partial recovery from chronic pain.
I’m no longer in excruciating pain. Some days I have no pain. Other days it’s a dull ache where the intense pain used to be.
When pain flares, I just apply a special essential oil pain relief blend and go about my day.
I’ve used a lot of natural remedies. I still use them. Because I need to.
That’s because I’m not cured. I’m just successfully managing my symptoms. But I do have my life back.
I’ve also overhauled my diet. I no longer eat junk. I mostly stay away from wheat and gluten. Milk will usually set my pain off.
Refined sugar is a no go. I don’t miss it either. I sweeten my food with raw organic honey or liquid stevia. I honestly don’t care if I never eat a sugary dessert again. Because I know it sends my pain through the roof.
What Foods Affect Fibromyalgia?
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I’ve heard of a lot of different diets, supposedly designed to help relieve chronic pain or relieve autoimmune disease. Anecdotally, people report they help.
I’ve read stories of people who’ve found great relief from a grain-free Paleo diet. Years ago, I tried something similar, for about nine months. I believe that was a fair trial.
However, instead of making me better, it made me sick. I was so weak from hunger. It underscores the point that what helps one person may not help another. Plus, there’s probably no one diet that’s right for everyone.
That’s one reason I’m not a fan of extreme diets. Instead, I prefer a balanced real food diet. Hopefully, eating healthy whole foods will help reduce inflammation.
Processed food also contains a lot of chemicals. Some we can’t pronounce. Not putting additional toxins into your body should help you detoxify naturally.
Organic food is what I suggest for people who suffer from fibromyalgia or from chronic pain. That’s because it won’t have the same level of toxic pesticides that you’ll find in conventionally grown produce. Or in meat raised on genetically modified grain. (GMO crops are heavily sprayed with a controversial herbicide known as Roundup. The active ingredient, glyphosate, is now found throughout the environment.)
Foods That Cause Fibromyalgia Flare Ups
Anyway, as long as we keep in mind that we’re all different. No one diet will work for everyone, but there are some foods you may want to avoid. Since I’m not a medical professional or a nutritionist, I urge you to work with your own healthcare team while doing this. People with certain health conditions or digestive problems will need extra help from their own doctor, if they decide to change their diet.
Anyway, some foods are commonly thought to fuel inflammation and increase pain. This is not an exhaustive list and there may be others. Getting well again could involve a lot of trial and effort. You may want to keep a food journal for a month or so to see how you react to different foods. Common food offenders include:
- Dairy products. I didn’t want to give up milk, cheese and ice cream. But, in the end, I had to. My pain was unbearable. I noticed a big improvement after I quit drinking milk. One question I get is, “What do you do about calcium?” I can answer this for me. But not for anyone else. I suggest you discuss this with your doctor. I try to stay 100 percent dairy free.
- Wheat. Going gluten free seems to help reduce my pain. My diet is mostly gluten free. I really feel as if this is helping. Many holistic health experts tell patients with chronic illnesses to avoid gluten. That’s because it’s believed that gluten can feed inflammation and help drive the autoimmune process.
- Genetically modified ingredients. GMO’s are very controversial. They’ve been shown to cause cancer in lab rats. They also cause stomach inflammation in animals. I’ve decided to avoid them. This is relatively easy to do at home. On packaged foods you look for either the USDA-certified organic or Non GMO Project labels. Nearly all corn and soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. Same with canola oil. So look for labeling that says it’s a GMO free product.
- Refined sugar. It’s believed that sugar can fuel inflammation. Chronic inflammation can then cause pain. It’s thought to trigger a wide range of illness, from heart disease to cancer. Although the link between sugar and inflammation isn’t yet proven, I take it seriously. That’s because alternative medicine experts generally tell their patients not to eat sugary foods. So I try to avoid refined sugar in all forms. Even without conclusive proof that it causes inflammation. Because I know how I feel after eating something sugary.
- Nightshades. These are plants in the nightshade family. This includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers. I’ve seen reports of people feeling better when they avoid nightshades. However, my diet is already limited. So I’ve decided to keep eating them. My chronic pain has gotten much better removing other foods and using a variety of natural remedies.
- Foods High in Arachidonic acid. This is an Omega 6 fatty acid, known to promote inflammation. Foods that contain a lot of arachidonic acid include eggs and animal meat. For a couple of years, when my symptoms were at their worst, I avoided eggs entirely. You may want to read the book, Inflammation Nation, if you want to learn more about avoiding arachidonic acid. This book helped me so much when my symptoms were at their very worst. Now that my body has healed enough I can eat eggs again with no discernible increase in pain.
- Artificial sweeteners. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are generally deemed toxic by holistic health experts. I avoid aspartame, which has a controversial history. It can also cause the same symptoms as fibromyalgia. I’m not saying that aspartame causes fibromyalgia. But it’s not something I want in my body. Instead, I use raw organic honey or non toxic plant-based liquid stevia to sweeten my food.
- High fructose corn syrup. Holistic health experts have sounded the alarm about high fructose corn syrup, because of a general belief that it’s very unhealthy. This processed sweetener is known to damage the liver. Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid if you’re eating processed food. USDA-certified organic foods are not allowed to use high fructose corn syrup.
- Anything you’re sensitive to. We’re all different. So a food that’s good for one person may not be good for the next. It’s probably a good idea to stay away from anything that doesn’t agree with you. Again, a food journal may help you notice a pattern.
Foods That Are Bad For People With Fibromyalgia
I wish it was possible to give detailed diet advice. But it’s not. Because we’re all so different. A diet that some people thrive on can make someone else feel worse. I know this first hand. Years ago, I did a nine-month experiment on a grain-free diet. I felt terrible.
Finally I realized that my body needs grains. Not excess grains. But some grains. Even though some people apparently thrive on a Paleo diet, I didn’t. I lost weight and became weak.
However, I do think everyone could potentially benefit from eating real food, instead of sugary, chemical laden processed food.
This may mean cooking a lot of meals from scratch. There may be a learning curve for people not used to doing this. That’s why it may be helpful to sign up with Real Plans, just for a month. This is a healthy weekly meal planning service that gives you delicious menus, along with a weekly shopping list. It accommodates special diets and telephone and online chat support are available. For more information click on the image below.