Guide to Keeping a Fibromyalgia Diet Journal
Updated: May 5
Living with Fibromyalgia often goes hand in hand with experiencing increased stress due to the unpredictable nature of when symptoms will strike. However, regaining the reigns of control through diet and lifestyle can help relieve stress and bring hope.
Almost half of all Fibromyalgia patients report that certain foods can trigger their symptoms. An effective way of finding out what food may be exacerbating your symptoms is to keep a food journal.
You can record your food intake using a fitness app, create a digital journal, or go with the old-fashioned and preferred approach and record your meals in a food journal notebook.
You may notice that your pain worsens or has headaches and severe fatigue after consuming a particular food. Your journal will make it easier to see patterns, and you can then adjust your diet accordingly.
It would help if you also kept notes of your daily activities and the effects on your condition and symptoms. List any actual exercise and record other activities such as typing, reading a book, and cooking dinner. Keep notes of what seems to cause you pain and where in your body you feel pain.
Journaling will help you keep track of progress and changes in your condition, and you will have notes to refer to when talking to your doctor or therapist about what you think makes your symptoms better or worse.
In addition, it can be very empowering and even exciting to discover correlations between specific food items and the responses they cause.
TRY THESE STEPS
➤ Record as many details about your day as you can.
Even if you think a particular food or activity is "safe and "that it doesn't trigger your Fibromyalgia symptoms, still record it. You may discover that what you thought was safe is a symptom trigger for you.
Here are some questions you might want to use to help prompt you:
What did I eat today?
What did I drink today?
How often did I eat, and at what time?
Be specific and include everything you consumed, food and drinks. Also, be sure to note down any oils, condiments, herbs & spices you added to your meals.
A helpful tip to ensure accuracy is to write down your meals at the time of eating rather than rely on your memory later.
What is my pain level today?
Where is the pain?
What type of pain is it? Stabbing, burning, sharp, dull, stinging, or aching pain.
Is the pain fluctuating from rest to movement?
Record your pain using a pain scale of 0-10, with zero being free from pain and ten the worst possible pain. It might be helpful also to associate a number with your level of functioning.
This type of pain evaluation may not be ideal for someone with Fibromyalgia. Still, health professionals widely use it, and using this scale can help explain your pain to your health care professionals to assist them in better understanding the trends in your pain.
Remember that most health care professionals do not have experience living with Fibromyalgia pain, and the more information you can provide them, the better.
How well did I sleep last night?
How many hours did I sleep last night?
Did I wake during the night?
What do I think caused my difficulty in sleeping? Pain, anxiety, stress, irritable bladder, digestion issues, or something else?
How is my digestion today?
Did I have any digestive issues?
Did I have an upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea or constipation?
How are my mood and emotions today?
Am I feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, low, up & down, tearful, stable, calm, happy, joyful? Or something else?
How's my memory and cognition today?
Did I have any trouble remembering things, or did I feel focused and sharp?
How was my energy today?
Did I feel energetic in the morning, but did I crash in the afternoon?
Did I feel low in energy all day, or was it a "good day," and I had energy throughout the day?
Did I exercise today?
How did I feel during the exercise and afterward?
✽ You may feel increased pain and fatigue the next day or so, be sure to consider this when reviewing your pain scale as you look for any trends.
Be sure to jot down notes regarding any situations or life events that you think affect you on that day, such as the weather, family conflicts, work stress, or any tiresome activities such as grocery shopping or housework.
➤ ELIMINATE POTENTIAL TRIGGER FOODS
It's helpful to try an elimination diet, which means that you stop eating a particular food if you suspect you may have a sensitivity.
Then, try removing these foods from your diet for a minimum of two weeks and see if any of your pain, fatigue, and digestive issues improve.
High lactose dairy products, gluten-containing foods, and nightshade vegetables are the first foods you should consider eliminating. If you're sensitive to any of these foods, you'll see a difference in your Fibromyalgia symptoms during the elimination period.
You can also have food allergy testing by a qualified allergist and consult with a nutritionist or dietitian for guidance concerning the best alternative foods to consume.
It may take several weeks to see changes. Everyone with Fibromyalgia will respond differently to changes in their diet. Some people may notice a difference right away; for others, improvements may occur slowly or not at all.
Suppose you're still unsure whether you are sensitive to particular foods, such as nightshade vegetables, lactose, or gluten. In that case, you may want to slowly add them back into your diet one at a time, recording in your food journal any flare-up of your Fibromyalgia symptoms. Be sure to note the date you reintroduced a particular food in your journal, and be mindful of any changes in your body.
➤ THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Changing your diet isn't always about what you eat; it may be when you eat it. So try to slowly start making minor adjustments to the time you eat certain foods.
For example, if you eat a particular type of meal and afterward feel lethargic and sleepy, and it was in the middle of a workday, then in the future, save that meal for the evening when you want to sleep a few hours after eating it.
On the other hand, you may discover certain foods that give you lots of energy or put you in a good mood. So don't forget to record in your journal all the foods that make you feel great!
Finally, remember that your doctor, nutritionist, dietitian, or naturopath can be great resources to assist you to discover any food sensitivities through assessment, testing, or simply by reviewing your journal.
Knowing what you can and can't eat according to your Fibromyalgia symptoms can be incredibly empowering and help solve many pain and suffering due to unexpected flare-ups of Fibromyalgia symptoms.