How To Manage Your Weight When You Have Fibromyalgia
Updated: May 4
Weight management is an effort for almost anyone; for people with Fibromyalgia, the challenges are increased.
In this blog post we'll discuss:
Exercise for weight management
Weight management with diet
Eating for energy
New eating habits
Living with Fibromyalgia comes with many challenges; severe pain, fatigue, decreased mobility, and medication side effects, some people with Fibromyalgia complain of weight changes due to particular medication. As a result, people with Fibromyalgia can feel powerless in weight management.
Before making major changes to your diet or exercise plan, be sure to discuss it with your doctor. Consider asking about possible testing for such disorders as hormone deficiency, thyroid problem, yeast overgrowth, or hypoglycemia. These medical problems also cause weight gain, and the symptoms may mimic those of Fibromyalgia.
Know that there still is power in your habits; good and bad habits which can support or make weight management worse.
EXERCISE FOR WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Decreased activity due to pain and fatigue may also contribute to an increase in weight as you less efficiently burn the calories you consume.
However, although exercise is very beneficial, it’s not always helpful to suggest exercise to reduce weight when you have Fibromyalgia. Aerobic and other fat-burning methods can be highly challenging due to pain and fatigue. Therefore, it’s essential to focus on food choices and portion sizes instead.
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT WITH DIET
To help keep your weight under control, focus on eating whole foods over processed foods without going on a specific diet. Eating less processed foods will start you on the road to healthy weight management, especially if you choose to eat mostly whole vegetables and fruits. These foods contain very few calories and are packed with essential nutrients.
What are Whole Foods?
Whole food is food in its natural state, without added salt, sugar, or fat. Whole foods can be unprocessed vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, seafood, fish, eggs, red meat, and poultry. Of course, it can be challenging to make your diet consist of whole foods only, but you should strive to make them the majority of the food you eat.
Eating whole foods will also help provide you with more energy. When you eat something, your body has to break down that food. Processed foods are difficult to break down; it takes a lot of energy. On the other hand, your body finds it easier to break down whole foods, so you'll be left with more energy.
EATING FOR ENERGY
You might be wary of eating carbohydrates with all the negative publicity these days. However, carbohydrates are our primary fuel source. Our brain uses it to power itself, and our muscles work the best on it. So please don't deprive yourself of it.
Carbohydrates that you should avoid are simple sugars found in candy, sodas, and many snacks. Instead, good carbohydrates such as don't whole grains, vegetables, and fruits will keep you energized throughout the day and avoid sugar highs and lows.
Fats are also essential. Without fat, our body wouldn't absorb vitamins. It's best to avoid saturated fats in meat, milk, and dairy products. Instead, everyone should consume good (unsaturated fats) from plant sources such as nuts and olives.
NEW EATING HABITS
Many people with Fibromyalgia have noted improvements after making positive dietary changes. It does require effort, but the results are worth it.
To begin with, it's important to develop the habit of eating slowly. At first, it can be quite a challenge. Unfortunately, we live in a fast-food world. We rush meals to have time to run to school and work.
We think rushing saves us time, but this type of routine can be detrimental when living with Fibromyalgia. It adds more stress to your life, resulting in symptom flare-ups, moving less, and "comfort eating", leaving us with unwanted pounds.
It takes time for our brain to receive the message that our stomach is full. So you might keep eating long after you are satiated. Aim for your meals—whether in the morning, afternoon, or evening—to last at least ten minutes.
You can lengthen your meal by engaging in conversation, resting your fork between bites, chewing slowly, and drinking water with your food. You should wait at least ten minutes after your main meal before deciding if you need to eat more or have a dessert. You may discover that you aren't hungry for more within that time.
Consider eating several small meals per day rather than three large ones. Small frequent meals can help reduce the highs and lows of energy you may feel during the day and prevent snacking.
Another strategy to reduce overeating is to place serving dishes on the counter and leave them there. As a result, you’ll have to get up out of your seat to get more to eat. You may find that you discover that you need no more food. Also, try not to eat directly from a carton of ice cream or bag of chips. They're foods that are easy to overeat if you don't have portion control.
Put your phone down when you eat. Staying off your phone will prevent you from multitasking. Also, try not to eat while watching television or flipping through magazines. When eating, focus only on your meal. This helps you observe how much you are eating and how fast you are eating. You can be mindful of taking your time to eat, enjoy each bite, watch for the signs from your body indicating that you are full, and stop yourself from overeating.
It's time to forget the idea that you must clean your plate. It's simply not true. Unfortunately, many people grow up taught to clean their plates and keep doing this out of habit even when full-up. Sometimes we are even overeating simply out of politeness. Unfortunately, such a habit can result in unwanted pounds. If you can't overcome the drive to clean your plate, try serving yourself smaller portions of food, or using smaller dishes. You will then be able to finish your meal without overeating.
Don't keep food in front of you between meals. If snacks are out on the table, then the temptation to eat is amplified, even if you're not hungry. Instead, after a meal, put leftovers away in the fridge or inside your pantry. Removing the leftovers after a meal from sight will help prevent returning to the leftovers for seconds or nibbling on them when cleaning up the kitchen.
Even when you eat less, you may notice little difference in weight – simply because of the other changes happening within your body.
One common factor is a lack of quality sleep or constantly feeling fatigued. Poor sleep can lead to a slower metabolism and increased appetite, especially for sugar and high-carb foods.
These are the type of food we crave when tired or feeling down – not uncommon for someone with Fibromyalgia. But, unfortunately, they are also the foods that contribute to increased body fat don't encourage continued eating, as they don't help us feel full or satisfied.
An essential step is to rid your home of all temptations that sabotage you from following better eating habits. Ideal significantly, it would be a good idea to keep junk foods and soda out of your house, so you're not tempted to snack on them during the day.
If you’re concerned about getting hungry, keep healthy snacks like carrot sticks, Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, and avocado on gluten-free crackers, fruit; such as berries or tropical fruit.
If you find that you can't bear to toss out the sweets, try keeping something tiny on hand, peppermints or barley sugar. Eating a few of these won’t break your diet but will give you that little sugary fix you crave.
Mindfully choosing better foods, especially quality protein foods, is necessary for weight loss and reducing Fibromyalgia symptoms.
If you eat fast food every day, try eating it only five days a week and replacing it two days a week with better quality foods. By taking small steps, you aren’t cutting out the foods you love all at once.
You'll find that your new eating habits will support your attempts to lose unwanted weight. Granted, such techniques as removing food from constant sight and eating slower won't work solely to lose weight, but they will help you curb any overeating, leading to a healthier weight.
Being well hydrated will support weight management and benefit the control of Fibromyalgia symptoms, such as headache and muscle pain. It's not unusual to misinterpret thirst for hunger. So unless it's been a few hours since you've eaten, have a glass of water the next time you feel hungry.
Start with small steps. Consider if you only replace one soda a day with a glass of water; you are already moving towards managing your weight better by lowering your calorie intake.
There are plenty of guidelines about how much water you should drink in a day. Consuming eight glasses of water each day is the most popular guideline.
However, people have different needs—a better indication of how hydrated you are in your urine. When you have adequately hydrated, your urine is almost transparent. However, water intoxication is possible; you don't want your urine completely colorless.
If you live somewhere where food is plentiful, you should have no problem getting the adequate amount of vitamins and minerals you need. However, when living with Fibromyalgia, you may need to remove food sensitivities that prevent you from eating certain foods.
For example, some people with Fibromyalgia are lactose intolerant and therefore are limited in eating certain dairy products. In this situation, supplements may be needed for healthy nutrition.
Though you don't need a prescription for vitamins and supplements, it's still a good idea to discuss your nutritional needs with a nutritionist or your medical doctor. Please be mindful that taking excess vitamins can cause toxicity and unpleasant side effects.