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Diet and Drugs

There is no specific “diet” that is recommended for the management of fibromyalgia. The key is to follow a healthy diet. Here are some guidelines:

  • Avoid or minimize caffeine and alcohol.
  • Make foods that can be easily prepared and frozen in individual servings.
  • Eat smaller meals at regular times, ideally every three to four hours.
  • Each meal should contain protein and at least three of the four food groups from Canada's Food Guide: meats and other protein-containing foods, fruits and vegetables, whole grain products (starches), milk and milk products.
  • Add essential fatty acids to your diet. These are important as the omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and pain in the body, and in high doses, can help control mood and depression. Foods rich in these nutrients include fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and halibut; flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and canola oil.
  • Eat at least five to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. These can be in the form of soup or juice, but whole foods are preferred. Frozen vegetables are great because they are pre-washed and pre-cut.
  • The fish you eat should contain low levels of mercury.
  • If possible, eat organic foods to minimize your exposure to pesticides.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of filtered or spring water daily.

Drugs

Sleep Medications

Discuss with your doctor any over-the-counter or natural remedies that you are considering before trying them to be sure that all of your medications are compatible. Some people need prescription medications to help them sleep. There is no one particular medication that helps everyone. Each patient needs an individual assessment. Discuss the benefits and potential side effects of any medication with your doctor, including over-the-counter medications, as any drug can have side effects.

Sleeping pills can also be habit-forming and cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped. If you do decide to take sleeping pills, never mix them with alcohol, as together they can have an additive effect and you may accidentally overdose. If you decide to stop taking the sleep medication, talk to your doctor first.

Pain Relief

Many people with fibromyalgia find that exercise, relaxation techniques and deeper sleep reduce their pain. Some also find that massage therapy, physiotherapy, osteopathy, taking baths with Epsom salts, acupuncture or acupressure are helpful. The key is to try a variety of approaches and discover what works best for you.

If relaxation, stretching and physical therapies do not reduce your pain, your doctor may suggest pain or other prescription medication. Discuss the benefits and potential side effects of any medication with your doctor, including over-the-counter medications, as any drug can have side effects.

When it comes to pain relief, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Pain relief is a process of trial and error. You and your doctor will need to work together to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life. It is most helpful if you bring in your activity log to all your regular appointments with your doctor. On your activity log, record the pain level by assigning a number from zero to 10 (10 is the worst pain), the time and amount of medication you are taking and any other symptoms.

The purpose of taking the medication is to improve your quality of life. The medication will help to reduce your pain so that you will be able to do more. As you become more mobile, you may be able to reduce the amount of pain medication you are taking by incorporating relaxation and meditation techniques to help control your pain.

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Fibromyalgia

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Diagnosis

What Helps?

Sleep

Exercise and Pacing

Environment

Diet and Drugs

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