More than five million American adults suffer from fibromyalgia, with about 80-90% of those being women. While many people will suffer from the symptoms of fibromyalgia their whole life, often people are diagnosed only during middle age. And I’m one of them.
Living with fibromyalgia can definitely be a challenge—but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Here’s how healthy food—and a fibromyalgia diet—can help you take back your life.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Because of the intense pain and fatigue, living with fibromyalgia can be a challenge.
Who gets fibromyalgia?
Anyone can get fibromyalgia, but women are more likely to have fibromyalgia than men. Many times fibromyalgia can show itself after a trauma or an accident.
How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?
There is no one test to diagnose fibromyalgia, but it is usually diagnosed by a rheumatologist. If the individual has had overall body pain which has lasted for more than three months and reacts to at least 11 of the 18 tender points which are located all over the body, then fibromyalgia is usually diagnosed.
The Fibromyalgia Diet and Other Key Tips
Dealing with fibromyalgia can be challenging at times, but there are a few things you can do to help cope with your pain. Here are my top tips, as someone diagnosed with fibromyalgia myself:
- Proper nutrition is key to reduce inflammation in the body. Start by getting tested for food allergies, sensitivities, and candida. Eliminate gluten, dairy, nightshades (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes) and sugar from your diet as they are acidic to the body and can cause you more pain if you’re living with fibromyalgia.
- Keeping the body alkaline is a sure way to reduce inflammation in our bodies. Rule of thumb: if 75% of your plate is made up of green vegetables, that will keep you more alkaline. Foods like kale, avocados, leafy greens, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, and zucchini are some excellent healthy foods to introduce into your fibromyalgia diet.
- Meditation: 30 minutes of meditation or mindfulness a day has been shown to reduce pain and anxiety for those living with fibromyalgia.
- Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a wonderful tool to learn about your past and you may have an underlying trauma or issue that is causing your fibromyalgia. The field of mind-body medicine and epigenetics is showing us how our thoughts and beliefs can affect our health and well-being.
- Gentle Exercise: Walking, swimming, yoga or qigong are excellent ways of aligning your breath with gentle exercise which can help with pain management.
Living with fibromyalgia can be difficult, but eating healthy food, and following these tips (and my fibromyalgia diet), can definitely help.
Shirley is the author of Finally…Food I Can Eat!, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with multiple food allergies. As a nutritionist, she enjoys helping people plan healthy menu plans within the confines of food allergies and dietary restrictions. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, or at www.deliciousalternatives.com