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The Fibromyalgia Diet

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If you have fibromyalgia, you may be desperate to try just about anything to feel less pain and get your energy back. Luckily, these studies suggest that getting your life back might be just as simple as following the fibromyalgia diet.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that usually causes pain, sometimes quite severe, throughout the body. There is no single known cause or cure for fibromyalgia, but some research has suggested that a variety of lifestyle changes can ease the pain of fibromyalgia and make symptoms less severe. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, diet changes have been shown to make a significant improvement in symptoms.

A study published in Rheumatology International found that 30 percent of fibromyalgia patients reported making diet changes that improved their symptoms and lessened flare-ups and daily pain. Read on to see what foods to eat and foods to avoid if you have fibromyalgia.

How Diet Affects Fibromyalgia

San Francisco nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH, had this to say about fibromyalgia.

“Fibromyalgia sufferers seem to have too much of a dependence on comfort foods, especially if they are finding it hard to exercise regularly,” she said. “This can lead to weight gain, and being overweight or obese can make your symptoms worse.”

She, and other nutritionists, recommend avoiding unhealthy foods that can trigger an unwanted immune response. Alternatively, some foods, herbs, and supplements have been found to reduce some symptoms and pain associated with fibromyalgia.

In general, obey the following tips and you may find your feelings of pain and fatigue greatly reduced.

Watch How Foods Make You Feel

Many patients with fibromyalgia find that certain foods are more likely to trigger a flare-up. For example, many individuals with fibromyalgia find that eggs, preservatives, gluten, dairy, or wheat triggers a flare-up.

A study published in Clinical Rheumatology found that about 42 percent of fibromyalgia patients find that some foods make them feel worse. What is the best way to see if foods make you feel bad? Keep a food log and note how you feel 24-36 hours later. If you notice a pattern forming, avoid that food for a month or two and see if you have fewer flare-ups.

Try an Elimination Diet

A general elimination diet can go a long way toward reducing fibromyalgia symptoms if you can't pin down any particular cause for your pain. Try eliminating common allergens one at a time for about a month per food. For example, the first month eliminate dairy and see if that makes a difference, the next month eliminate gluten or wheat, and so on. If you notice feeling better and having less pain while you have eliminated a food, it might be beneficial to avoid eating that food in the future. You can also visit a doctor for allergy testing. Allergy testing is a fast way to identify what might be making you feel worse.

Fight Fatigue with Food

Certain foods will give you more energy than others. For example, eating sugar causes a temporary high and a sudden crash. But eating more protein will give you sustained energy. Most fibromyalgia patients benefit from eating a protein-rich breakfast, followed by protein-filled snacks and other meals throughout the day.

Improve Your Overall Health

In addition to eating a nutrient-rich diet and trying fatigue-fighting supplements, a few other lifestyle changes can improve your overall wellbeing. Try regular massages, avoiding stress, sleeping at least eight hours a night, and engaging in gentle exercises like yoga.

Foods that Make Fibromyalgia Worse

Certain foods are linked with an increased risk of painful fibromyalgia symptoms. Avoid these foods if you want to reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are directly linked with making fibromyalgia worse.

Studies have found that for some women, just eliminating the fake sugar was enough to reduce their symptoms or eliminate them entirely. Even if aspartame is not causing your symptoms, it could make them worse. If you eat artificial sugar, try eliminating it for one month and see if you notice any reduction in symptoms. If you don't eat artificial sugar, avoid foods with fake sugar in case it makes your symptoms worse.

Nightshade Plants

Nightshade plants, like chili peppers, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, and potatoes can all trigger flares of fibromyalgia (and arthritis). Nightshade plants are derived from a strain of plant that once was poisonous, which could be why some fibromyalgia patients are sensitive to the plants. Avoid using nightshade plants regularly and you may see a reduction of pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia.


Caffeine does have some health benefits, but some fibromyalgia patients seem particularly sensitive to the beverage. Caffeine can not only cause painful flare-ups, but it can also make it harder to get a good night's sleep. Some studies have linked poor sleep habits to fibromyalgia symptoms, which means getting a good night's sleep should be your top priority in pain management.


Sugar is a quick way to get energy, which is appealing if you are constantly tired, but sugar is a poor energy source for individuals with fibromyalgia. An article published in the Journal of Pain found that when fibromyalgia patients were heavier, they were more likely to report painful symptoms and more frequent flare-ups. There is some link between obesity and worsened fibromyalgia symptoms, possible due to an overactive autoimmune system. If you want to eat something sweet, try natural sweeteners like fruit juice or honey in moderate amounts.

Food Additives

Some studies have linked food additives with an increase in fibromyalgia symptoms. MSG is the biggest culprit, as it is classified as an excitotoxin and can make pain symptoms worse. Foods containing preservatives and nitrates can also make pain symptoms worse and should be avoided if you have fibromyalgia.


A large portion of the world today is lactose-sensitive or lactose-intolerant. Bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea are common symptoms of lactose intolerance after eating dairy. If you have problems with digestion or any of the other symptoms listed above, eliminating dairy from your diet may cut down on these symptoms and also reduce fibromyalgia pain.

Simple Carbs

Some anecdotal reports have stated that reducing the simple carb content of a diet can reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Even if there is no direct link, reducing simple sugar intake is a simple way to improve your overall health and lose weight, which can indirectly improve fibromyalgia symptoms.


Some individuals with fibromyalgia also have celiac disease, which is an intolerance for gluten found in rye, wheat, barley, and some other grains. If you have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten from your diet will only help reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia and improve your pain tolerance.

Nutrients that Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Adding more of these nutrients to your diet can improve fibromyalgia symptoms, reduce flare-ups, and improve your pain tolerance. Along with eliminating foods that make fibromyalgia worse, adding more of the following nutrients to your diet will only provide benefits for fibromyalgia patients.

Nutrients that Reduce Fibromyalgia Symptoms
  • Magnesium
  • Broccoli
  • Ginger
  • 5HTP
  • Rhodiola rosea
  • Malic acid
  • Omega 3 fats


Magnesium is a mineral that many adults are lacking in. Individuals with fibromyalgia are often lower than average in magnesium. Supplementing with magnesium can help relieve some fatigue and pain associated with fibromyalgia.


Broccoli contains a compound ascorbigen which helps improve the function of the liver. In one study, when patients were given broccoli powder and ascorbigen powder for a month, their fibromyalgia symptoms improved.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a plant used to treat fatigue. The components in this plant boost ATP function, which improves working muscle and fights muscle fatigue. Ginger Ginger fights inflammation and has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy to fight arthritis and joint pain. Some studies have found that supplementing with ginger can reduce all forms of generalized muscle pain.


5 HTP is necessary to make serotonin. Serotonin is used to manage mental health and energy. One clinical trial found that supplementing with 5HTP for 90 days reduced symptoms of fatigue, improved sleep quality, and reduced anxiety and pain.

Malic Acid

Malic acid is a compound found in apples. This compound makes it easier to absorb other nutrients. Adding this compound to the diet will make it easier to absorb other nutrients, like magnesium, that can fight muscle pain and fatigue directly.

Omega 3 Fats

Omega 3 fats have been found to reduce inflammation. They are commonly prescribed to reduce arthritis symptoms but they also have a positive effect on fibromyalgia and generalized pain and muscle stiffness.

A Healthy Diet is Key for Managing Fibromyalgia

Avoiding foods and adding the right foods and nutrients to your diet can go a long way toward reducing fibromyalgia symptoms. Nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, says, "When you are eating a heart-healthy diet - one low in saturated fat, lean meats, and poultry and high in the fresh fruits and vegetables that don't cause you problems, your body is going to work in a more healthful way." This will not only reduce some of the worst symptoms of fibromyalgia, but it can also address hidden ailments that may be compounding your health issues. A healthy body is better able to cope with any health condition, including fibromyalgia.

A study from 2001 published in Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that when fibromyalgia patients followed a raw, whole food, and vegetarian diet, their fibromyalgia symptoms were reduced. This shows that dietary changes can make a difference in how you feel even if you have fibromyalgia.




Next Article: 39 Signs and Symptoms of Fibromyalgia