What is the best diet for fibromyalgia? The answer is, it depends on your individual symptoms. So the dietary guidelines given below should not be followed without consulting your doctor. Our advice simply aims to express the basic consensus among dietitians as to the best general diet for fibromyalgia sufferers. If you experience any worsening of symptoms after eating certain foods, you may need to adapt your diet accordingly. Indeed, research clearly shows that there is no single diet plan to treat fibromyalgia, and that the same foods may relieve symptoms in some patients while aggravating those in others. If you suffer from fibromyalgia and also want to lose weight, we recommend Weight Loss Program, whose wonderful weight loss forum has many members with FM.
Fibromyalgia Diet Guidelines
Basic rule for fibromyalgia sufferers: don’t eat refined carbs.
- Ideally, avoid all refined carbs like white-flour breads, cakes, muffins, donuts, sweets, and all processed breakfast cereals. Instead, eat wholegrain bread, other wholegrains (oats, rye etc), and oatmeal or traditional granola/muesli.
- Use table sugar sparingly in place of artificial sweeteners. Sugar intake should be no more than 40g per 2000 calories or roughly 8 percent of total energy intake.
- Dietary fiber intake should be roughly 14 grams per 1000 calories consumed, and should be largely soluble fiber (eg. from apples, oats, legumes) rather than insoluble (eg. from bran).
- Your total carbohydrate intake, from all foods, can vary between 30-55 percent of total calories.
Basic rule for fibromyalgia sufferers: stick to monounsaturates and polyunsaturated fats; include regular amounts of omega-3 fats in your diet.
- Eat less than 10 percent of total calories in the form of saturated fat. Saturated fats interfere with circulation, leading to increased inflammation and pain. Our consumption of saturated fats comes mainly from: cheese, beef, milk, oils, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cakes, cookies, donuts, butter, mayonnaise, chicken fat/skin, margarine, sausages, potato chips, corn chips and popcorn.
- Eat less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol.
- Eat as few trans fats as possible. The most common sources of trans fats include: cakes, cookies, crackers, pies, bread, animal products, margarine, fried potatoes, potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, shortenings.
- Maintain a healthy intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). These are used by the body to make other omega-3 fats like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is very beneficial for the brain. The best food source of ALA is flaxseed and flaxseed oil (linseed), while oily fish (or cod liver oil) is a rich source of EPA and DHA.
- Maintain total fat intake at 20-35 percent of calories. Choose mainly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. When choosing meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products, choose lean, low-fat, or fat-free varieties.
- Avoid all fried food. Instead, choose broiled, baked or sauteed foods.
Basic rule for fibromyalgia sufferers: go easy on red meat.
- Because red meat is not good for fibromyalgia patients, and may be high in saturated fat, aim to eat more fish and vegetable protein. Include more legumes and soybeans in your diet.
- When choosing meat or poultry, remove all visible fat and skin before eating.
- Maintain protein intake at between 20-40 percent of total calories.
- Avoid all processed meats, especially those which are salt-cured, smoked, or nitrate-cured.
Fruits And Vegetables
Whole fruits are nutritionally superior to juices. Choose whole fruits like: blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, peaches, mango, cantaloupe melon and anti-inflammatory fruit such as apples. If eating citrus fruits does not interfere with your fibromyalgia, eat oranges and grapefruits.
Vegetables are crucial for diet nutrition. Good choices include: carrots, squash, sweet potato, spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
People who eat more generous amounts of fruits and vegetables have a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancers like those of the oral cavity and pharynx, larynx, lung, esophagus, stomach, and colon-rectum.
Enjoy cow’s milk (if you can tolerate it), or soy milk, but choose reduced fat or fat-free varieties. The same applies to yogurt and cheese. Remember regular cheese contains tons more fat (including saturated fat) than regular beef.
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day. Or drink diluted fruit juices, or herbal teas. A proper intake of liquids is important for flushing out toxins.
- Limit your intake of coffee and tea, or eliminate them from your diet. Like alcohol and refined sugar, caffeine enhances fatigue, may increase muscle pain, and can interfere with normal sleeping patterns.
- Avoid sodas or other carbonated soft drinks, especially those high in sugar or caffeine.
- Limit your intake of alcohol, or eliminate it from your diet.
- Include chopped vegetables, unsalted nuts and seeds in your daily snacks.
- Avoid all commercial snackfoods (except sodium-free air-popped popcorn), as most are high in trans fats and sodium.
- Avoid chocolate and candy.
Regular fast food is not a good choice for fibromyalgia sufferers. Most popular fast food is high in fat and sodium, as well as calories, and less nutritious than home cooked food. Save it for an occasional treat.
These are best avoided, especially aspartame, nutrasweet and saccharine. Aspartame may aggravate symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) And Sodium (Salt)
Choose foods low in MSG and salt. Processed foods tend to be high in both these additives, so check food labels carefully. Monosodium glutamate can aggravate fibromyalgia.
Healthy Eating Habits
When and how often we eat our meals and snacks also contributes to a healthy diet for fibromyalgia. Ideally, eat only light meals in the evening to prevent digestive complaints. Also, eat smaller meals, more often, to maintain a regular supply of nutrients and energy to your muscles.