Starting a Fibromyalgia Journal
- Record everything. Do this even if you think it has nothing to do with your fibromyalgia. You are looking for patterns; eating something and then seeing your pain worsen on several occasions. You may discover a trigger food is something you were certain was safe.
- Write down how you feel each day too. You should also note exactly how you are feeling each day in terms of your fibromyalgia. This will allow you to look back and see certain patterns emerging, where certain foods trigger more pain or, on the flip side, days of improvement in how you feel.
Doctors say that although extensive studies have not been conducted, they often see a commonality in fibromyalgia trigger foods after discussions they have with their patients. I personally need to avoid consuming things like soda, processed foods, nitrates, and too much dairy or gluten. All of these things have a profound effect on my pain and stiffness.
Knowing What to Avoid
When you start journaling for fibromyalgia, the first few days are typically the hardest. This is because you need to remember to write everything down, and get into a writing routine.
Writing everything down may seem like a nuisance. Plus, you won't see immediate results to your health after you avoid your trigger foods. Improvements in your diet will take a while to have a cumulative effect on your pain and fatigue.
Sometimes you may see a possible pattern emerge, but you are not certain it is really a pattern of a trigger food. Say you love cheese and you suspect it may actually be fueling your fibromyalgia pain. You eat it often and you are in pain often. How do you know for sure?
The best way is to eliminate it from your diet for 10 days and see if you experience improvement. If you do, you can probably be sure it has contributed to your fibromyalgia health challenges.
You can also try testing foods by reintroducing them back into your diet and seeing how you feel in the days that follow.
Sometimes you learn that you can indulge in trigger foods as an occasional treat, but cannot consume them in large quantities or for several days in a row. A journal helps you learn exactly what you can eat and what quantities are safe for your fibromyalgia.
What Else Can You Do?
It helps to look more closely at common trigger foods. As I said, not everyone is affected the same way by certain foods, but many people with fibromyalgia find that pain can be fueled by eating things like:
- Nitrates: This is a preservative found in hot dogs, sandwich meats, bacon, and even in wine. There are certain natural/organic brands you can buy, which do not contain nitrates.
- Sugar or high fructose corn syrup: Sugar in some people can really fuel a flare, so try and limit your intake. This also includes anything high in carbs, which of course turn to sugar in the body.
- Limit dairy: I have never cut out dairy completely, but I limit my consumption and it does seem to help.
- Limit gluten: Many people with fibromyalgia say going gluten-free has made a huge difference in their pain management, but it takes a big commitment. I try and limit my consumption, but have not been able to stick with a gluten-free diet for very long.
- Cut out preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings, and food coloring: Natural is best. Avoid foods that can stay fresh for several weeks, contain dyes, and have ingredients in them that you cannot easily pronounce. Artificial sweeteners are the worst for fibromyalgia patients and really should be avoided completely.
Keeping a journal may seem like just one more thing to do on days where you don’t feel like doing anything. But, it can really give you insight into what foods or activities can trigger more fibromyalgia pain, fatigue and general discomfort, and give you the power to ease your pain.