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Fibromyalgia and Diet

Will changing your diet help you cope with fibromyalgia?
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Make It Easier to Eat Healthfully

It makes sense for people with fibromyalgia -- just like everyone else -- to try to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. A well-balanced diet can give you more energy to stay physically active and can potentially improve your overall health.  

If you're struggling with pain and exhaustion, however, it's hard to cook nutritious meals. Liptan says she encourages her patients to make it easier on themselves by seeking out healthy foods that don't require much preparation.

"Buy vegetables that are pre-washed and cut up," she suggests. "If you have a health food store nearby, go to the deli section and buy small portions of pre-prepared foods like beet salad or quinoa to vary your diet."

Use Food to Help Fight Fatigue

Choosing the right foods may help you keep your energy level more consistent and prevent fatigue.

"We know anecdotally that certain dietary choices -- like eating small meals frequently throughout the day -- can help energy levels," says Ann Vincent, MD, assistant professor of medicine and medical director of Mayo Clinic's Fibromyalgia Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "It can help to eat a snack with a little protein, for example, when you're feeling tired at three in the afternoon," she says. 

Make sure you eat breakfast, which should include some protein and whole grains, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, MPH, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a registered dietician and practicing physician in Sarasota, Fla.

"You could try eating a boiled egg and some oatmeal," Gerbstadt says. "That will prevent your blood sugar from spiking and will give you the right kind of energy to get you going through the morning, even if your body is aching and you're feeling tired."

Of course, diet is not the only factor in how much energy you have. Getting enough sleep and being active during the day can also help.

Check on Your Supplements

Always tell your health care providers about any supplements you're taking to treat your fibromyalgia. Some supplements, such as SAMe, can have significant side effects and may interact with medications, Vincent says.

In addition to checking on any possible interactions, your doctor should also be able to help you gauge any claims you might read about what supplements can, or cannot, do for your health.  

Focus on Your Overall Well-Being

As you make changes to your diet, keep in mind that people with fibromyalgia tend to benefit most from taking a variety of approaches to managing their symptoms.

Along with leading a healthy lifestyle (including a nutritious diet) and taking any medications your doctor may prescribe for pain or other symptoms, there are many other therapies worth exploring.

"Look into trying things like yoga, massage, and deep-breathing exercises," says Gerbstadt. "Each individual with fibromyalgia has different symptoms and will need different solutions to get the best possible quality of life."

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Reviewed on March 11, 2014
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