I used to write home decorating columns for a local magazine. They were actually advertorials – advertisements that snuck up on you after you read the whole thing through. I don’t know anything about decorating. Anyone who knows me and has been to my house knows I just do whatever I feel like to my walls and furniture. It’s an eclectic, comfortable mess. I eat a lot like that too, and it’s just as ridiculous for me to write about food, but what the heck.
The basic theory is that fibromyalgia symptoms can be lessened by the way you eat. It all boils down to chemistry and a fine balance. Unfortunately, with fibromyalgia, there is no end-all, be-all diet. Every fibro patient is different. All I can do with this theory is point out what works and what doesn’t work for me. And since I’m probably a D+ eater, this is going to be challenging.
Conundrum #1 – getting bored. This is going to be a pretty limited diet, and it’s going to be important to come up with different food combinations that are sustainable and varied enough that I don’t get bored and throw the whole thing out the window.
Conundrum #2 – food preparation. God help me, I’m going to have to learn to cook more than stir fries and spaghetti.
Conundrum #3 – food cost. Eating well costs a whole lot more money than eating poorly. It’s one of the tragedies of our society. People without a lot of money have much fewer healthy choices. I’m going to have to be reallocating funds to cover increased food bills.
Conundrum #4 – the carnivore conundrum. I often crave meat as much or more than sugar. When I was pregnant with my son, I craved steak and potatoes. Until I started craving butter pecan ice cream, but up until then, it was steak and potatoes.
Conundrum #5 – eating more than twice a day. I need to aim for 5 times a day, breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. I can usually only count on eating breakfast and dinner. It’s not enough because nutrients don’t stay at a constant level, blood sugar plummets, and the body (as several people have scolded me) goes into a starvation mode. In the starvation mode, nutrients are stored rather than utilized. It’s a good way to gain weight, if you’re going on a north pole expedition and need that extra fatty layer.
So there are challenges, but let’s give this a whirl. First of all, a couple basics:
- Antioxidants are one of the few things researchers agree on. If you have fibro, up your antioxidant intake, minimize the risk of oxidative stress.
- Calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, selenium, serotonin, and melatonin all may be in short supply, so boosting intake of these may be helpful.
The goal is balance, however, so simply tossing back supplements and vitamins may not be the way to go. At least I’m not going to start there. Step one will be simple food intake on a more regular basis and focusing on 1-ingredient foods.
Breakfast: The breakfast that sits the best with me in terms of stomach and blood sugar is a solid protein breakfast. Vegetable omelets are perfect. Unfortunately, I don’t have this option at work anymore. So I’ve been eating breakfast sandwiches – egg, sausage, and cheese on a biscuit. It’s been working out. I will, however, look at other options for a hot, filling breakfast at work.
Yogurt and fruit is always an option and would help with the antioxidant/calcium levels. Unfortunately, any sort of sugar first thing in the morning puts me off balance in every way possible. Energy plummets, tummy aches, I get shaky. Maybe after I’m more balanced I can do this. For now, I’m going to stick with breakfast being my protein meal and go with eggs in some form.
Morning snack: a banana or trail mix, or something like that
Lunch: Lunch is a problem. I don’t like constant salads and I can’t count on myself for leftovers. I also don’t care for leftovers. Lunch needs to be quick and thoughtless. That’s reality. On occasion the servery here at work will serve something worth the money, but usually not. Fat content is high, and I have no doubt of preservatives and additives in their food. That’s just life in the cafeteria.
Lately I’ve been eating a Cliff bar or Kind bar, but they have been giving me a pretty bad stomach ache. I’m not sure if it’s the nuts in them or something else. I’m moving away from the bars to granola or nuts or trail mix of some sort. This is going to take some experimentation. It’s probably one of the biggest problems to overcome – eating at work.
Afternoon snack: a handful of nuts or trail mix.
Dinner: I’m aiming for stir fries using ingredients that are either fresh or frozen. Shredded carrots, broccoli or broccolini, diced up brussel sprouts, spinach, all stirred up together is quite good. There are also premixed frozen vegetable dishes that can be microwaved or sauteed. Lentils will need to be a part of this diet to replace meat protein in the evening. I haven’t figured that out yet, though.
Reality check – there will be nights that I crawl home and can’t face any sort of chopping or stirring or anything. There will be spaghetti nights. I’ll commit to whole wheat spaghetti, which I like very much, and I’ll steer away from meat flavored spaghetti sauce which is much higher in fat content, and which I don’t like anyway. There are a few very good organic spaghetti sauces. I will not give up cheese. No discussion on that, and since I do not drink milk, I think cheese and yogurt is a good way to help calcium along.
Dessert: yogurt with pecans is my current favorite.
There is not a lot of variety here. The focus will be on upping veggie intake, lowering meat protein, eliminating processed food. One big thing is to reduce glutamate and aspartate to avoid excitotoxicity. The other big thing is to avoid oxidative stress, so upping antioxidants is going to be necessary too. In order to do this without a lot of thought (because let’s face it, I’m a bit ADD when it comes to diet), the focus will be on 1-ingredient foods and combining 1-ingredient foods in different ways as much as possible.
Fruits: Bananas, blueberries, cranberries, raisins, craisins, melon
Nuts: no peanuts – must be aware of stomach problems with almonds too. Walnuts and pecans in smaller quantities are good.
Grains: no (or limited) white flour. Whole grains, super grains (quinoa, flax, etc). No baked goods, nothing with yeast. Whole wheat pasta, whole wheat tortillas – but these need to be limited, because they are processed. Rice, preferably brown, although I can’t make brown rice…
Veggies: dark green and orange, broccoli, carrots, spinach, etc. Lettuce gives me a tummy ache, so salads will have to be spinach salads. Beans are good for antioxidants. Organic edamame is good, and lentils are good for zinc and folate, as well as plant proteins.
Proteins: eggs will be the primary source of animal protein, mostly because I’m very bad at cooking meat. Lean sandwich meat is useful for snacking, honey ham or turkey usually. Hamburger often causes a belly ache, but red meat will happen in restaurants. Fresh fish is highly recommended, but other than tuna, I doubt very much that will happen.
Leafy vegetables and berries need to be organic as much as possible to avoid pesticides. Soy products and corn products need to be organic to avoid GMOs as much as possible.
This is the building block for what I’m aiming at in a diet. The odds of diet alone reducing fibro symptoms are non-existent. Exercise needs to be maintained; stress needs to be kept at a minimum; sleep needs to be regular, preferably no less than 8 hours. Mind and body need to work together to make anything happen.
There is a strong likelihood that unless the fibro turns completely around, my body will not process foods the way it should, and a course of vitamins and supplements will probably need to be added – again there is no real “normal” and people with fibro need to find the necessary levels of nutrients that their bodies need to function properly. At the moment, I’m taking a B complex, calcium + D, and fish oil. My main beverage is vitamin water or plain water, so I get a healthy dose of C. I’ll keep this up while I start this diet. In the future, vitamin A, folate, and magnesium could be tried, as well as serotonin and melatonin, but those are for a different page.
There it is. Wish me luck.
Low or inadequate thyroid levels is highly likely to be involved with the evolution and perpetuation of fibromyalgia, so it’s necessary to see how thyroid can be boosted (again through food rather than supplements at this point). According to mindbodygreen.com, cruciferous vegetables are necessary. I’ve got those covered with broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, etc. Brazil nuts are also apparently good for selenium, which is connected to the production of thyroid. I can handle that too. However, then comes the sea vegetables, and my throat closes up and my belly says oh no you don’t!
There are a couple supplements that are recommended, chlorophyll and maca. I can look into that if sticking with this diet doesn’t make strides.
Finally, a couple things to avoid – gluten, because it increases thyroid antibody production, which essentially destroys thyroid in its tracks. Second, no soy protein isolate. I have to check into this because there is no reasoning for it in this article. Energy bars, like Cliff and Kind would be eliminated if that is the case. Since processed foods are going to be eliminated (or virtually so), it won’t be too difficult to avoid soy protein isolate.