Fibromyalgia is a chronic, painful condition that affects the entire body. It’s a musculoskeletal disorder that often affects sleep, memory, energy levels and mood. According to National Institutes of Health, approximately 5 million people – mostly women – have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. There currently is no cure for fibromyalgia; however, many people believe that eating a non-inflammatory diet can help to reduce fibromyalgia flares.
While there is no specific fibromyalgia diet that has been proven to relieve symptoms, many people report that they feel better or worse after eating specific types of foods. Specific foods affect individuals differently, and a great way to keep track of how different foods affect you is by keeping a food and pain journal.
Foods to Avoid with Fibromyalgia
Before we dive into recipes that you might want to try if you have fibromyalgia, let’s first talk about foods to avoid with fibromyalgia.
According to Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist in San Francisco, “Fibromyalgia sufferers seem to have too much of a dependence on comfort foods, especially if they are finding it hard to exercise regularly. This can lead to weight gain, and being overweight or obese can make your symptoms worse.”
Here are a few foods to avoid with fibromyalgia:
- Aspartame: Equal and NutraSweet are examples of this artificial sweetener. Aspartame is used as a no-calorie sugar alternative to sweeten beverages, yogurts, frozen desserts and other foods. While unconfirmed, some people with fibromyalgia have reported a reduction in symptoms after giving up aspartame.
- Caffeine: Caffeine can impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep, which is important for people with fibromyalgia. Not only do fibromyalgia sufferers already experience regular feelings of fatigue, studies suggest that getting enough sleep can actually help to combat other fibromyalgia symptoms.
- Sugar: Consuming sugar frequently can cause weight gain, placing more stress on your body. This can worsen fibromyalgia symptoms.
- MSG and sodium nitrate: These foods are preservatives that are frequently used in processed foods, such as meats or sauces, to enhance flavor or color. However, they are also full of salt, which can increase pain and swelling for people with fibromyalgia.
Healthy Recipes for Your Fibromyalgia Diet
Soothing Quinoa Cereal
This recipe is rich in magnesium, a mineral that can help to relieve pain and tenderness in the body. Additionally, it can help to improve energy levels. It is also a great source of fiber, vitamin K, potassium, folate and copper.
Recipe courtesy of Fibromyalgia Treatment Group.
1 c unsweetened almond or rice milk
1/3 c quinoa flakes
¼ c pomegranate seeds
Pinch of sea salt
Maple syrup or raw honey (optional, to sweeten)
Optional toppings: toasted walnuts or almonds, granola, berries
- In a small or medium saucepan set to medium-high heat, bring the milk to a boil.
- Once the milk comes to a boil, add the quinoa flakes, pomegranate seeds and a pinch of salt. Turn off the heat and stir a few times.
- Allow cereal to sit for 3 minutes. Stir cereal one last time to make it thicker.
- Scoop cereal into bowl and drizzle with maple syrup or honey. Add desired toppings.
Pan-Roasted Salmon with Lentil Pilaf
Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your brain, and may also help to alleviate pain and stiffness for people with fibromyalgia. This dish is also a great source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Recipe courtesy of Prevention.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
1¼ c green lentils
1 dried bay leaf
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil
1 large carrot, diced (about ¾ c)
1/2 large onion, chopped (about ¾ c)
1 rib celery, diced (about ½ c)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp dried rosemary
½ c dry red wine
4 salmon fillets with skin (about 5 oz each)
¼ tsp dried thyme
Juice of ½ lemon (1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Heat oven to 350°F. Bring 5 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan on high heat. Add the lentils and bay leaf, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are cooked through yet still firm to the bite, 20 to 22 minutes. Drain and discard the bay leaf.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, celery, thyme sprigs, fennel seeds, and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrot is just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until nearly evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in the lentils and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Season the salmon with ¼ tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rub the dried thyme between your fingers to crumble and rub over the salmon. Add to the skillet, flesh side down, and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and sear skin, 1 minute. Transfer to the oven and roast until the flesh is opaque in the thickest part, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness. Drizzle with the lemon juice and serve over the lentils. Garnish with the fresh thyme leaves.
Nutrition (per serving: 1½ c lentils and 1 salmon fillet): 522 cal, 43 g protein, 41 g carbs, 19 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 221 mp sodium
258% (1,032 IU) daily vitamin D
180% (1,800 mg) daily omega-3s
117% (7mcg) daily vitamin B12
40% (10g) daily fiber
34% (1,199 mg) daily potassium
28% (5 mg) daily iron