Over the years, I have been on and off the Weight Watchers diet. Recently, I noticed a difference in my fibromyalgia symptoms when I wasn’t following the diet. So, the first of the year, I decided to lose weight again, and after about a couple of months on the Weight Watchers plan, I discovered that it helped my symptoms dramatically. Something as simple as a diet plan determined how much pain I was in, how tired I felt, and how much sleep I got. What’s interesting about Weight Watchers, you really don’t feel like you’re on a diet; no foods are off-limits, only limited. And here’s the momentous revelation-you increase your fruits, vegetables, and water intake. Go figure. When you read some of the tips below, you are reading much of what’s in the Weight Watchers manual for their diet plan. Weight Watchers taught me how to eat healthily. Because of this change, I feel better.
1. Drink More Water
Water may be a good strategy for easing muscle pain. Dehydration can cause an increase in inflammation and swelling and a slow recovery time for sore, overwork muscles. Drinking more water has been shown to decrease soft tissue pain.
2. Eat Green Leafy Vegetables
Vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, red chili peppers, sweet peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, parsley, collard, and turnip greens are great sources of vitamin C. Fruits such as strawberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits are excellent choices as well. Vitamin C is required for the formation of connective tissue and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
3. Eat Whole Grains
Avoid white processed foods such as white rice, pasta, bread, flour, and especially sugar. Sugar increases pain, weakens the immune system, disturbs sleep, decrease energy, and encourages yeast overgrowth. By reducing your intake of processed food,carbonated drinks and other sugary foods, you will avoid harmful food additives that will only aggravate your condition. Whole grains are high in nutrition and fiber, and you will not be eating empty calories but will be fueling your body with the right food source.
4. Reduce Meat, Fried, and Junk Foods
These foods contribute to inflammation, pain, and insomnia. They also slow down circulation and deplete your stores of energy. Better choices would be lean turkey, chicken, fish, beans, nuts and soy products.
5. Nutritional Supplements
It would be nice if we could get all of our nutrients from our foods. But, we live in a “fastlane” age where people want everything here and now. So, our food seems to be altered, and we have to wash, scrape, and peel most of the nutrition off to avoid being poisoned. So, nutritional supplementation has been necessary to replenish our body with what it needs. This is coupled with the fact that fibromyalgia and CFS are linked to mineral deficiencies. Look for supplements that are cold-processed or bioavailable.
6. Cut the Caffeine-Completely
Caffeine interferes with the proper absorption of minerals. It also contributes to sleep disturbances. Even decaffeinated coffee has a small amount of caffeine, and the chemical process to extract the caffeine from the coffee beans can add additional chemicals to your body. A better alternate choice is Postum and herbal teas. This one was a tough one for me because I still need to have my cup of coffee. But, it’s now decaf and I limit it to no more than two cups daily. My mother use to drink Postum, and it tastes good for a coffee substitute.
7. Alcohol- You don’t need it
Alcohol interferes with proper sleep. Initially, you feel relaxed, but as the alcohol wears off, it will disturb your sleep later into the night. Also, once alcohol is metabolized, it will have you running to the bathroom which disturbs sleep. Alcohol interferes with many medications that are used to treat fibromyalgia which can be a dangerous mix. And because of the depression, physical and emotional pain that accompanies this disease, you run the risk of self-medicating, possibly becoming an alcoholic. If and when you do take a drink, do so earlier in the evening and do so in moderation.
I had always been told to avoid nutrasweet or aspartame, but I never understood why until I read a quote from Hal Blatman, MD, DAAPM, Chairman, American Academy of Pain Management Committee for Technology and Integrative Medicine, “NutraSweet converts in the body to methanol and formaldehyde. Methanol is neurotoxic, reported to cause neurological damage and brain cancer. In many people, ingesting this substance causes deep aching and pain throughout the body. Some people are sensitive to as little as one dose. Formaldehyde is embalming fluid and has also been shown to cause cancer. Neither of these substances can be used favorably by the human body. After discontinuing use of this chemical, some people noticed that it can take two months for them to detoxify.” In other words, it’s toxic!
For obvious reasons, we know why avoiding tobacco is necessary for our health in general. But for fibromyalgia and CFS reasons, smokers breathe in free radicals and these free radicals damage blood, tissues and cells. And, I’ll stop there to avoid offending smokers because I have strong views about tobacco-much like those commercials you see with these dramatic presentations of what smoking will do to you.
10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A must have in every person’s medicine cabinet! I can go on and on about the benefits of Omega 3 which is found in fish oil and flax seed oil supplements. Just google it and see why you need it. I can definitely tell a difference in my pain levels and how I feel in general when I run out of my flaxseed oil.
A natural, nutritional approach to fibromyalgia and CFS contributes to pain reduction and a healthier lifestyle. Live healthly and reap the rewards.