Can Diet Help Manage Fibromyalgia Symptoms?

Fibromyalgia Diet: What to Eat and Not Eat

If you want to stay flare-free, here are some ways you can prevent it with diet and dietary changes:

  • Strip out all foods with preservatives or artificial colorings.
  • A clean, all-natural diet helps you stay healthier.
  • Replace sugars and artificial sweeteners with natural agave nectar or honey. Stick with hormone-free chicken and meats, grass-fed beef and organic fruits and vegetables.
  • And drink plenty of water, which helps rid the body of toxins.
  • A well-balanced diet can give you more energy to stay physically active and can potentially improve your overall health.

Below is a list of the best and worst foods for people with fibromyalgia.

Avoid Foods That Contain Added Glutamate

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that occurs naturally in the body and in some foods, but it is also added to foods as a flavor enhancer.

The most common form of dietary glutamate is monosodium glutamate (MSG), which must be listed on the label when it’s included in foods.

Ingredients that include the terms “hydrolyzed,” “autolyzed,” “protein concentrate,” or “protein isolate” are also likely to contain naturally occurring monosodium glutamate.

Foods that commonly contain MSG include Chinese foods, canned soups and vegetables, some types of chips or crunchy snacks, and processed meats. To avoid MSG and other sources of added glutamate, read food labels carefully, and don’t buy those that list MSG or ingredients high in glutamate.

Choose Whole Foods Instead of Processed Ones

Processed foods typically have more additives and less fiber and nutrients than unprocessed foods. Refined carbohydrates — such as white flour, white pasta, and white rice — are examples of processed foods that have been stripped of naturally occurring nutrients.


When choosing carbohydrate-containing foods for your meals, choose whole grains such as quinoa, amaranth, whole wheat berries, buckwheat groats, or brown or wild rice, or have a sweet potato or plain potato in place of bread, pasta, or rice.

A few years into my battle with fibromyalgia, I began to cut out the “white stuff” from my diet – refined sugar (which we will discuss later in more detail), white flour, pasta, bread, and so on. I also steered away from processed foods and began buying whole foods and organics. The difference in the way I felt was stunning.

Think “Rich, Lean, Low, Whole”

Develop a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and low-fat or no-fat dairy foods.

Avoid Cured Meats

When you buy meat, avoid processed products with added salt or preservatives or meats that have been smoked or cured. This list includes canned meat, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, ham, deli meat, corned beef, and beef jerky.

Also, beware of meat products with the words “natural flavor added” on the label. An example of such a product is turkey breast infused with broth (to give it more flavor). Natural flavors are derived from natural sources such as plants, meats, and seafood and may be high in naturally occurring monosodium glutamate.

Eat Cold-Water Fish and Fortified Foods for Vitamin D

You can get vitamin D naturally in swordfish, tuna, sockeye salmon, and eggs, and some foods, such as orange juice and milk, are fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be taken as a supplement or in cod liver oil, which provides both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Choose Dark, Leafy Greens, Nuts, and Seeds for Magnesium

Magnesium is found in many healthy foods, including legumes (dried beans and lentils), nuts and seeds, avocado, yogurt, bananas, fatty fish, dark chocolate, and dark, leafy greens.

Add in Fish, Flaxseed, and Chia for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are abundant in wild-caught seafood, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. It can also be taken as a supplement.

However, omega-3 capsules are not recommended since they contain gelatin, which contains the amino acid aspartate. Aspartate may active a glutamate receptor on nerve cells that are implicated in fibromyalgia. Gelatin also contains glycine, a co-activator of that receptor.

Include Good Sources of Antioxidants in Your Meals

Look for foods that add color to your diet, specifically in the fruit and vegetable category. Bright red, green, orange, yellow, and purple hues to will give you an antioxidant boost.

Read the Labels on Packaged Foods

If the ingredients list on a food packaging label is long and complex, put the product back on the shelf, Holton advises. Labels should be short, easy to read, and should list ingredients that you could add to a dish when cooking.

Avoid Artificial Sweeteners and Limit Sugars

Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin, and sucralose. Use regular sugar or honey sparingly to sweeten foods. Even “regular sugar” or refined sugar is harmful to your health. Sugar increases inflammation in the body and saps energy. This one was a huge discovery for me. When I must use sugar, I use unrefined organic sugar that has a “sandy” color as opposed to the refined white sugar.

Dr. Horton states that “as you cut back on sugar, you’ll taste sweetness in foods more easily. Even Stevia is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar — which makes you want more sweetness in your food.”


Everyday Health (Fibromyalgia: What To Eat, What To Avoid)

ProHealth (Dr. Pellegrino’s Fibromyalgia Diet: It’s Metabolic, My Dear)

Everyday Health (Weight-Loss Tips for Fibromyalgia Sufferers)

WebMD (Fibromyalgia and Diet)

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