Because I’m asked about food lists and diets for fibromyalgia more than any other question (besides queries about my Pup), I’ll make some clarifications here. First of all, there’s no specific list of foods that everyone
with fibromyalgia should eat. There’s also no specific list of foods fibrofolk shouldn’t eat.
I’m not a big fan of the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.”
The reason is obvious. We’re all different. Our metabolic make up is different. Our adrenal and thyroid hormones process and metabolize foods differently. We’re each unique – and so are our food requirements.
But within the framework of specific diets, there are some plans that come closer than others to defining foods that work “best” for our specialized nutritional needs. To give a better picture of how this related to my own healing, I’ll share a few more details with you here regarding my nutrition journey than I’ve discussed before.
Years ago, I dove into the nutrition world with gusto. I did so to make a (very stubborn) point with my doctor. I’d been a patient of his for years. I passionately sought a diagnosis. Actually, I sought solutions.
From him, I found neither.
At each visit, I sat poised on the edge of my seat. I leaned forward on that awful exam table wearing that ridiculous paper gown and tried to read my doctor’s facial expressions. I wanted answers. I wanted to know why my pain levels were out of control and my body was failing me at every turn. I wanted to understand it all. Why was my symphony of symptoms becoming a cacophony of chaos?
I wanted a logical explanation.
Was that too much to ask? With each new visit, I clung to the hope that this time, I’d hear the answer. Get that? I was looking for just one. I was looking for theanswer. I didn’t understand the complex nature of fibromyalgia and autoimmune syndromes.
With this in mind, you can see that each suggestion my doctor made to me, carried a lot of weight. He looked for potential causes of my symptoms and sent me to dozens of specialists. We ruled in – and then out – rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, strokes, myasthenia gravis, ankylosing spondylitis, and more. Some specialists still felt that I could have any number of these diagnoses and said I had “some” markers for several of them. I now call this an Autoimmune Cocktail. I seemed to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that.
I was also prescribed a considerable cocktail of medications. When they appeared ineffective, they weren’t removed from my protocol – instead, others were added.
You can imagine then, my level of anticipation when my doctor said he had an answer for me. I honestly can’t remember if he said “an answer” or “the answer” but I certainly heard it as the latter.
At this point, I still had no diagnosis and no one had ever mentioned fibromyalgia. I feared the worst (many of you can relate) and waited for him to drop the hammer and tell me I had some strange and rare – not to mention incurable – disease. Thankfully, that never happened. But, what I’m not so thankful for is the fact that I never received a diagnosis from him at all. I had to figure that out on my own (but that’s a different story).
At the office visit where I was going to finally hear the answer to the questions I’d asked myself for 15 years, I listened intently. My doctor cleared his throat, flipped through papers in my file and said that he had some interesting test results from my recent lab work. He reported that I had elevated cholesterol levels. He said that was likely the cause of my pain and all of my seemingly unrelated symptoms. He wrote a new prescription and offered me some samples.
I couldn’t even respond. I felt sucker punched.
I had no idea what cholesterol was, but I knew with every fiber of my being, that it was not THE problem. It definitely was not the answer I sought. I felt hurt, sad, disappointed, and overwhelmingly exhausted. I took the prescription form, forgot the samples, and left his office.
But something changed in me. On the way home, my disappointment turned to frustration and then to anger. That was new. I’d always been a compliant follower. I realized that my doctor didn’t have the answer I was looking for and that it was up to me to figure it out. Before I pulled my car into my garage, I devised a plan.
I was going to prove to my doctor that
cholesterol wasn’t the source of my problem.
I didn’t say it was a good plan.
That’s just as far as I could think at the time. I never filled that last prescription, and jumped into an eating plan that made sense to me. I wanted to prove my hypothesis as quickly as possible, so nutrition seemed the likely way to begin.
I created a diet that seemed quite radical. I ate salads including chicken and eggs here or there. I experimented with new veggies. I drank water. I kept it simple.
I had no idea at the time that I was going wheat/gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, grain-free, bean-free, legume-free, caffeine-free, processed foods-free, artificial sweetener-free, low carb, etc. I just wanted to see a drastic change in my cholesterol. I believed that I could lower my cholesterol yet still experience pain. I believed they were completely unrelated.
I was sort of right – but mostly almost all wrong.
The basis of my entire wellness journey was on old-fashioned stubbornness. It wasn’t based in some grandiose plan to heal, get well, and leave fibromyalgia behind me. I wanted to prove one tiny point, and in doing so … completely transformed my world.
I had no understanding of the vital connection between food and whole body inflammation. I didn’t understand the role that processed foods, chemicals, and the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) has on the development of fibromyalgia and autoimmune conditions.
All I knew is that when I changed what I ate, I began to see results almost right away. The first thing I noticed is that the painful choking feeling I had at night disappeared. For months, I’d feared choking in my sleep — swallowing felt contracted and difficult. This also seemed connected to my horrific chest pain that radiated up through my collarbone and across my back. This symptom noticeably diminished and then disappeared within ten days or so. Within a few weeks, I experienced a drastic improvement in the stiff and painful joints in my hands. No doubt about it, I was thinking more clearly as well.