Is There a Fibromyalgia Diet?
There's really no such thing as a fibromyalgia diet, but you may have noticed that certain foods can trigger fibromyalgia flare-ups, while other foods may help ease your pain.
If you've noticed a difference in how you feel with what you eat, it's probably not a coincidence. There are certain foods you should eat—as well as foods to limit—when you have fibromyalgia. Watching what you eat may help you manage your fibro flares.
When you have fibromyalgia, your diet should be well balanced and include foods that can help you thrive with fibromyalgia. And because there's no single eating plan to deal with fibromyalgia, work with your doctor and/or a registered dietitian who can help you plan your meals.
Also, it's important to take your health into your own hands: Pay attention to what causes your flare-ups as well as what helps ease them. You have the tools at your fingertips to help you live well with fibromyalgia.
In-depth Articles on Other Fibromyalgia Treatments
- Alternative treatments
- Lifestyle changes
- Physical therapy
- Mental and emotional therapy
Foods to Eat with Fibromyalgia
Below are some of the foods you should try incorporating in your fibromyalgia diet.
Fruits and vegetables: These foods make up the foundation of a healthy diet. Fruits and veggies contain phytochemicals (natural chemicals found in some plant foods) and antioxidants—natural pain and inflammation fighters.
Lean protein: Eating some type of protein at every meal—whether it's chicken, fish, beans, nuts, or peanut butter, gives you energy by fueling your muscles. With fibromyalgia, it's common to feel low on energy, so bulking up on protein is essential.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These essential fatty acids may help reduce inflammation and fibromyalgia-related pain. Omega-3s are found in flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil, and some fish, such as salmon.
Vitamin D: If your diet is very low in vitamin D, you may be dealing with muscle pain. Get your vitamin D from fish, such as salmon, mushrooms, and eggs, to relieve your pain and other fibromyalgia symptoms. Also, many cereals, breads, and yogurts are fortified with vitamin D.
Whole grains: Eating whole grains, such as whole grain pasta, quinoa, and brown rice, gives you a healthy dose of energy instead of dragging you down—as foods, such as cookies and white rice, can do.
Foods to Limit with Fibromyalgia
Limiting certain foods may also help ease fibromyalgia. The foods below may aggravate pain and other fibromyalgia symptoms. Pay attention to how your body and fibromyalgia react to these foods.
Caffeine: Getting too much coffee, tea, and chocolate can cause sleeping problems—especially if you have caffeine just before bed. It's already difficult for some patients with fibromyalgia to get quality sleep, so talk to your doctor about how much caffeine you can have.
Dairy: Many people who have fibromyalgia are also lactose intolerant, so dairy products can exacerbate pain. However, getting enough calcium is important, so if you can't eat yogurt or drink milk, eat foods fortified with calcium or talk to your doctor about taking a daily calcium supplement.
Foods sweetened with aspartame: Chemicals found in this sweetener can activate neurons in your brain that may increase your sensitivity to pain. Aspartame is found in, for example, some soft drinks (the diet ones) and artificially sweetened yogurt.
Highly processed and fried foods, especially foods that contain food additives: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and/or nitrates are examples of food additives, which are chemicals that are used as flavor enhancers. MSG is found in some frozen dinners and Asian foods. Nitrates can be found in lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon.
"Nightshade" vegetables: These vegetables include bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes. Although these veggies are highly nutritious, they can trigger fibromyalgia-related pain.
Eating Well with Fibromyalgia
Keep in mind that many people with fibromyalgia also have co-existing conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, sleep problems, anxiety, and depression. Find a meal plan that works well for you to treat fibromyalgia and other conditions you may have.
For a successful fibromyalgia diet, what works for one person may not work for you. But many people with fibromyalgia find that keeping a food diary helps. Write down everything you eat throughout the day to see what foods might be triggering your fibro flares.
You can also try cutting out some foods gradually from your diet to see whether that has an effect on your pain and other fibromyalgia symptoms. The bottom line is that instead of following a strict fibromyalgia diet, stick to foods that support a strong immune system so you can thrive with fibromyalgia.