Fibromyalgia and Diet

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that affects around 4 million adults in the United States (1Trusted Source).

Though research is limited, scientific evidence shows that some diets reduce pain and symptoms related to fibromyalgia.

This article reviews which foods to eat and avoid to help manage fibromyalgia, along with 10 tasty recipes.

Shakshuka egg recipe

Fibromyalgia and diet

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that’s characterized by widespread muscle pain. Due to chronic pain, many people with fibromyalgia also have sleep disorders, chronic fatigue, and depression (1Trusted Source).

The cause of fibromyalgia isn’t yet known, and the condition cannot be cured. People with fibromyalgia must manage their symptoms through medical treatment and lifestyle changes (1Trusted Source).

One way to help symptoms is by following a certain diet.

Though little research has been done, some evidence points to certain dietary approaches that may help manage fibromyalgia symptoms. These include (2Trusted Source):

  • Low-calorie diets. Weight loss may help with fibromyalgia symptoms, so a low-calorie diet may be a good approach.
  • Vegetarian diets. These diets are rich in anti-inflammatory fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. The strongest evidence is for raw vegetarian diets.
  • Low FODMAP diets. FODMAPS are types of carbs that some people can’t digest. Low FODMAP diets exclude most dairy products, grains, fruits, and vegetables. It’s a very restrictive, highly anti-inflammatory way of eating.

A diet high in anti-inflammatory foods may also help manage fibromyalgia symptoms, as chronic inflammation is one of the suspected causes of the disease (3Trusted Source).

Regardless, this disease and its symptoms are highly individualized. Different diets may work better or worse depending on the individual.

You may benefit from working with a registered dietitian if you’re following a more complex eating pattern, such as a raw vegetarian or low FODMAP diet, to manage your fibromyalgia symptoms.

Foods to include

Types of foods that are typically part of dietary approaches for fibromyalgia include (2Trusted Source):

  • Low calorie: low calorie, high protein, high fiber, or filling foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains
  • Vegetarian: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds; some vegetarians may include eggs or dairy products while raw vegetarians eat only uncooked plant foods
  • Low FODMAP: only foods that are low in FODMAPs, including most meats, rice, some fruits and vegetables, and limited dairy products

You should also add a variety of anti-inflammatory foods that fit into your preferred eating pattern, as they may help alleviate symptoms. Examples of anti-inflammatory foods include (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source):

  • Protein: salmon, eggs, chickpeas, Greek yogurt
  • Fruits: bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, avocado
  • Vegetables: spinach, kale, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, cucumber, carrots
  • Carbs: sweet potatoes, brown rice, honey
  • Fats: olive oil, coconut oil
  • Herbs and spices: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, garlic, cloves

Note that some of these foods, such as honey and chickpeas, are higher in FODMAPs. As such, avoid them if you’re strictly following a low FODMAP diet.

Foods to avoid

On the other hand, foods that are typically avoided in the dietary approaches to fibromyalgia are (2Trusted Source):

  • Low calorie. Exclude empty calories like chips, cookies, cakes, ice cream, sugary drinks, added sugars, and added fats.
  • Vegetarian. All vegetarians exclude meat from their diet. However, raw vegetarians will also exclude cooked foods.
  • Low FODMAP. On the low FODMAP diet, you need to exclude all foods that are high in FODMAPs. This includes wheat, dairy products, beans, garlic, and onions.
  • Anti-inflammatory. To decrease inflammation you should also avoid pro-inflammatory foods, which include highly processed foods, refined carbs, fast food, and processed vegetable oils like soybean oil or corn oil (6Trusted Source).

SUMMARY

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by muscle pain. Some dietary approaches may help manage its symptoms, including anti-inflammatory, low calorie, raw vegetarian, or low FODMAP diets.

Fibromyalgia-friendly recipes

The following recipes are appropriate for various dietary approaches to fibromyalgia, and they all contain anti-inflammatory ingredients like fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.

1. Shakshuka for one (vegetarian, low FODMAP)

Shakshuka is a North African dish made by simmering eggs in tomato sauce. However, this take includes some healthy, anti-inflammatory additions like spinach and fresh parsley (4Trusted Source).

At only 286 calories per serving, it’s also an ideal meal for anyone following a low calorie diet to help manage their fibromyalgia.

It’s likewise appropriate for anyone following a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, which includes eggs and dairy products.

Simply swap the onions and garlic for garlic- and/or shallot-infused olive oil to make it FODMAP-free.

Get the recipe here.

2. Mango turmeric overnight oats (vegetarian)

This easy breakfast dish is appropriate for raw vegetarian diets, as you don’t have to cook it. Instead, the oats soften overnight by soaking in coconut milk, resulting in a creamy and smooth texture.

Additionally, this recipe contains several anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and honey (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Get the recipe here.

3. Watermelon, mint, and grilled cheese salad (vegetarian)

This flavorful salad makes a great summer meal. With 484 calories in a generous serving, it can be part of a carefully planned low calorie diet.

It’s also appropriate for lacto-vegetarian diets, which include dairy products.

Finally, the salad is rich in vitamin C — a potent anti-inflammatory antioxidant — from the watermelon (9Trusted Source).

Get the recipe here.

4. Wild blueberry cauliflower smoothie (vegetarian)

Smoothies are a perfect on-the-go meal solution, and this vegan smoothie is compatible with a raw vegetarian diet for fibromyalgia. Because it contains only 340 calories per serving, it’s also an appropriate meal for low calorie diets.

It contains blueberries, strawberries, and purple cauliflower, which are all rich sources of anthocyanins — antioxidant pigments that give these fruits and vegetables their bright colors (10Trusted Source).

Anthocyanins are also highly anti-inflammatory, with one study showing they improved sleep quality in people with fibromyalgia. However, more research is needed (10Trusted Source).

Get the recipe here.

5. Mediterranean vegetable salad with prunes and fruit dressing (vegetarian)

This vegan salad recipe is loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients like prunes and beets (10Trusted Source).

With a few simple tweaks, like opting to not cook down the prune juice and swapping out the edamame for nuts like walnuts or pecans, you can make this a raw vegan recipe.

Additionally, this entrée salad contains only 450 calories in a large portion — making it a good fit for a low calorie diet.

Get the recipe here.

6. Fresh spring rolls (vegetarian, low FODMAP)

These low FODMAP spring rolls are loaded with vegetables and are naturally low in calories — containing only 240 calories in a 3-roll serving.

They’re also full of a variety of antioxidants from colorful vegetables like carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, and red cabbage (11Trusted Source).

For an extra dose of protein, you can add tofu or cooked shrimp.

Get the recipe here.

7. Chocolate mint quinoa breakfast bowl (vegetarian, low FODMAP)

This indulgent breakfast recipe is loaded with antioxidants from anti-inflammatory berries, dark chocolate, and pumpkin seeds (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

At 490 calories per serving, it’s a bit high in calories for breakfast on a low calorie diet. However, you could easily include a smaller portion of this breakfast bowl or split it into two meals.

It’s also vegetarian and low in FODMAPs, making it ideal for people with fibromyalgia.

Get the recipe here.

8. Trail mix (vegetarian, low FODMAP)

This quick and easy trail mix recipe is a perfect vegetarian and low FODMAP grab-and-go snack. It can fit into a low calorie diet as well, as it only contains 140 calories per serving.

It contains antioxidant-rich pecans, pumpkin seeds, bananas, and dark chocolate — which may help decrease chronic inflammation (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

Get the recipe here.

9. Sprouted rice salad (vegetarian, low FODMAP)

This salad can be eaten warm or cold, so it’s a great vegetarian and low FODMAP dinner or lunch option. It also contains only 280 calories per serving, making it a good choice for low calorie diets as well.

It’s rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants from pomegranate, including vitamin C (9Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

Get the recipe here.

10. Low carb chicken salad on zucchini chips (low FODMAP)

This low FODMAP chicken salad can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken with hard-boiled eggs or cubed tofu.

It’s full of anti-inflammatory ingredients, like grapes, pecans, purple cabbage, and rosemary (7Trusted Source).

At only 265 calories per serving, it can also be eaten on a low calorie diet.

Get the recipe here.

SUMMARY

These 10 recipes are appropriate for diets to manage fibromyalgia symptoms. Most are vegetarian, and they all contain anti-inflammatory foods. Some are low in calories and FODMAPs.

The bottom line

Fibromyalgia is an incurable disease characterized by chronic muscle pain. According to some research, certain diets may help manage the symptoms.

Although further studies are needed, the diets with the most evidence include low calorie diets, vegetarian diets, and low FODMAP diets that are rich in anti-inflammatory foods.

If you’re having trouble planning a diet to help with your fibromyalgia, you should consult a registered dietitian for help.

Although fibromyalgia doesn’t have a cure, eating an anti-inflammatory diet may have powerful effects on your symptoms and quality of life.HEALTHLINE NEWSLETTERGet our weekly Fibromyalgia email

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Written by SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD on April 28, 2020

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