Journaling for Fibromyalgia Patients
If you have fibromyalgia, you probably spend a large portion of your time wondering what it was that you recently did or ate that caused this latest bout of pain or extreme fatigue. New symptoms present themselves, too, and one has to wonder what the heck causes something else to start hurting so severely? This is where journaling for fibromyalgia helps: it can help you keep track of your lifestyle and various symptoms.
It may seem like you are playing a guessing game, and avoiding flares or new symptoms can seem impossible. But, there is a better way to outsmart your fibromyalgia and take some control back.
The Benefits of Journaling
Last year I began keeping a journal of what I did and what I consumed each day. It was not anything big or fancy, but I took the time to include how I felt (pain and fatigue levels), and any other clues that would help me put the puzzle pieces together.
You’ve probably heard that what you put into your body can be a deciding factor in how you feel each day and during the days that follow. What we fuel our bodies with can either support our health and actually limit the level of pain and discomfort we experience, or it can fan the flames of fibromyalgia into a full-blown attack.
I have tested this theory (okay, I really was just eating what I wanted because I wanted it), and I found it to be true. What I ate affected my fibro symptoms more than I wanted to admit.
So, I have seen the results of my own roller coaster of eating habits, including my slips where I plummeted into an indulging cycle of foods I shouldn’t have been eating, which produced debilitating pain and suffering.
The good news in all of this is I have had periods of time where I committed to eating only healthy foods and avoided trigger foods. I got rest and soft exercise (no lifting weights for me!), and the results were less pain and more energy.
Take Back Control
In a disease where one can feel like life is completely out of their control and pain is inevitable, it is great to know you hold a little bit of control through your diet and lifestyle.
Recently, I have been in such pain that it felt like everything was hurting me. I don’t want to move because of the pain, but not moving can cause me more pain. It is a vicious cycle.
And it is not like not moving feels much better. Laying down hurts — even my pillow doesn't feel like the right height or firmness — and by morning I have such severe neck and upper back pain that I am awake at dawn.
So, I took a hard look at my fibromyalgia journal and saw that I probably have contributed to this painful period of time. I wasn't eating well, I worked long hours, and I kept pushing myself even when my body warned me that it was about to turn on me. My journal tells the whole story.
Starting a Fibro Journal
I am not sure what my excuse is for eating poorly some days, or even in small ways that trigger more fibromyalgia pain. But by keeping a journal it helps me see where triggers hide.
I can recognize patterns (eating bacon with nitrates or drinking a diet soda equates to pain for three days), and I can identify the foods that should be avoided. I also can see where certain activities cause a reaction in my body. A journal gives you the power to prevent more pain.
Dietary triggers are sometimes unique to the fibromyalgia patient. You need to know what causes you more pain and fatigue with your fibromyalgia. To do this you should:
- Buy a journal and keep it where you will see and use it daily. Knowledge is power, and since everybody is different, you need to know what you personally should avoid eating. We also tend to forget all the bad stuff we are eating until we see it in writing. Once you know you have to write it down (it makes you accountable), you may find that you think twice about your choices.