Discovering Dietary Effects Good Foods Bad Foods

You probably can't alleviate your fibromyalgia entirely by watching what you eat. However, studies have indicated that you may be able to reduce your pain level and even improve your quantity and quality of sleep by plotting a course toward certain foods and away from others.

People with FMS are different from each other, and no large-scale studies have found that some foods are good and others should be banned for people with fibromyalgia, but patterns are emerging. For example, some fibromyalgia sufferers agree that most fruits and vegetables (especially berries) and plain cereals are FMS-friendly, but chocolate, citrus fruits, and foods high in monosodium glutamate (MSG, a chemical regarded as a flavor enhancer), aspartame (an artificial sweetener), or caffeine aggravate their FMS symptoms. Check food labels to see whether MSG or aspartame is included in the product. (You may have a hard time giving up aspartame because it's in a wide variety of products, particularly diet soft drinks and reduced-calorie foods.)

If you find that MSG gives you trouble, when you eat out in restaurants, consider telling the waiter that you're allergic to MSG, and it should not be added to your food. (You can also simply request that MSG not be added to your food, but that request may be ignored. If you say that you're allergic, your request is more likely to be heeded. It's not a total lie — MSG can cause a flare-up of FMS symptoms.)

As for beverages, plain old water is best. You may think that water is really boring — but have you checked the water aisle of your supermarket lately? You can get water with lemon or other flavors added, and with carbonated water if you like bubbles. If you don't want fancy water, local tap water will work just fine.

One way to figure out whether specific foods make your symptoms worse is to keep a food diary. Each day, write down everything you eat on one side of a sheet of paper. On the other side of your paper (at the end of the day), list any symptoms that are worse than usual, such as worsened pain or greater fatigue. Keep your food diary for at least two weeks, comparing what you ate with how you felt. If you notice that you felt worse when you ate ice cream and milk and had whipped cream on your pie, maybe dairy products are a problem for you. If you felt bad when you ate pecan pie, maybe nuts bother you. If you start to see a pattern, eliminate the suspicious food for a week or two and notice if you feel any different. If you feel better without it, that food may be a problem for you and should go on your "avoid" list.

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