Jul 13, 2010

transfer students, and the Fibromyalgia Diet.

hello beauties! and gentlemen... can't forget my boys!

so yesterday, i had my transfer student orientation!

i am thrilled to be back in school after my frustrating last year or so, but it was a really challenging day, actually. if all had gone "according to plan," i would technically be graduating this december...

i know obviously my life was not meant to follow the "plan" of the typical american teenager, and i would never trade the experience and lessons i've gotten from not following the plan. i know this for sure, don't get me wrong... but it was still a challenge to not be a little disappointed, or maybe frustrated is a better word?

instead of starting as a second semester senior, i was transferred in as a second semester freshman. gotta love transferring from private, christian schools, yeah?

but you know what? that's ok. i'm excited to be back at it. i really am. and in hind sight - i am not the same person i was the first time i was a freshman. everything is going to be totally new and different, and that's exciting!

you know how sometimes, you have one of those situations where you smack your forehead and lament, "oh, i wish i knew then what i knew now!" well, i basically get the chance to "go back in time" and redo that now.

...venting session now over :)

more important things now, yes? in the past week or so, i've actually gotten quite a few emails on how and what to eat if you are dealing with a chronic disease/Fibromyalgia/nerve pain/cancer recovery. i thought i would elaborate, because unfortunately, i think everyone knows someone who struggles with one of these.

part of why chronic pain is so tricky is: 1.) the doctors aren't sure how and why it happens, medically speaking, 2.) they aren't sure of how to cure or treat it, and 3.) everyone is different, and responds to treatment differently!


ok, well, you know i find it frustrating, obviously, but if the doctors don't have any answers, what can we do about it?

diet always matters.

it's true. i don't care who you are - young, healthy, sick, old, overweight, underweight, an untra-marathoner - we all are humans, so food effects all of us.

unfortunately, if you are effected by chronic pain, be it from a car accident, Fibromyalgia, or rheumatoid arthritis, you don't have that "freedom" to pretend you are invincible. you can't pretend your diet doesn't effect you until you're 40 - you see the effects today.

this is good and bad. it's good because food does effects everyone, so you are more likely to take it seriously TODAY because you see how it effects you. being healthy is crucial. you cannot deny how important it is, and you don't believe in the saying, "ignorance is bliss." for you, there is no bliss in stupidity.

it's bad, though, because you can't be as carefree as your friends - when they just want to be young and eat like crap because they can, you can't, or you pay for it physically. it doesn't matter how much i want that ice cream cone, i CANNOT let myself eat it, or i won't be able to get out of bed the next day. period.

and trust me, i've tested it many, many times. you just can't cheat reality.

if the doctors don't have any solid, medical answers, though, how should we eat?

here's where i wish i had an easy, clear answer for you. the truth is, i don't, and neither does anyone else.

but through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, i do have some recommendations for you to try.

it's really the same advice i'd give for everybody, but unfortunately, most people don't want to take diet seriously until something life-changing happens.

tips for managing chronic pain through food.

1. for lack of a better term, just man up.
there's just no easy way to attack this... i'm gonna sound a little mean here, ok? honestly, you just have to bite the bullet, and start being accountable for your habits. you're dealing with big kid problems now, so time to act like a big kid.

if you eat junk, you will feel like junk. if you already feel like junk because of your disease, you will feel even junk-ier if you eat junk. yeah, it's a word... haha.

this is your responsibility, not your doctors. if you don't do ANYTHING else to help yourself, please realize what you eat can make a HUGE difference in how you feel. whatever your excuse to not eat better is - too busy, too expensive, doesn't taste good, don't like to cook, crappy grocery stores, etc. - it just isn't good enough anymore. you are fighting new challenges, so you have to adapt accordingly.

unless you want to live every second of every day with the reminder that you are sick, you MUST eat as healthfully as possible. i don't mean freak yourself out about it, and i don't mean you can't ever have a cookie... but the FOCUS of your diet should be clean, natural foods.

the good news? it's what you do eat that's more important than what you don't eat. aim for foods that are simple: fruit, veggies, nuts, whole grains, lots of water, organic dairy, eggs, and meat when possible. make it easy for yourself, ok?

eating like this won't cure you, but it will give your body the basics it needs to fight for itself. there are so many things about chronic diseases you can't control, but this is one area you can help yourself immensely!

2. check your foundation.
if you haven't already, have you doctor do a blood test to check for vitamin/nutrient deficiencies. if you have a chronic illness, chances are, even with a flawless diet, your body will be lacking in some areas because it can't properly absorb all your nutrients. if you do find you have a deficiency, you will be amazed how much better you feel just from correcting that one, simple problem.

i hate to push supplements, but a very good idea is to look for a natural, balanced, plant-based multi-vitamin. you need more help covering your bases than the average chick does - it's not overkill. an omega-3 supplement wouldn't hurt, either. and your skin and hair will look fabulous :) 

do some research on the internet, or check your local health food store. look for vitamins made from whole foods, not chemicals, if you can help it. if you need a supplement, you can get a bottle of that particular nutrient from whole foods for cheaper than a pair of pants! pretty good deal if it gives you your life back, right?

3. get checked for food allergies, if you are suspicious.
food allergies don't necessarily cause your issues, but they can make you feel much, much worse. you don't need one more thing to deal with!

if your allergist does find something, be kind to your body and respect it. i know it's not easy (i have many!), but in the long run, you will feel so much better.

everyone's body behaves differently. for example, i have a few foods that i just need to be careful with - i can eat them, but not very often. i also have some things i NEVER eat, because the reaction is so unpleasant. honor your body. test it. play around with your foods and see what makes you feel good, and what gives you trouble. this is a learning process, so give yourself some time to figure it out.

also consider: yeast/gluten, dairy, and nightshade plants: tomatoes, chili and bell peppers, potatoes, and eggplant. gluten and dairy are pretty common allergens (for those with a disease or not), and nightshades have been known to cause migraines/inflammation, so definitely worth looking at.

4. check your vices.
the little things we do and don't think about can make such a huge impact on us! one of those areas is our "guilty pleasure foods," which we allow ourselves thinking they aren't that big of a deal. unfortunately, they do effect us even if we don't notice, and if you have chronic pain, the reaction is exponentally amplified.... not cool.

foods to free yourself of today: artificial sweeteners (splenda, sweet n' low, sugar-free products/gum), chemical food additives (nitrites, preservatives, MSG), and too much caffeine (more than 1-2 8 oz. cups coffee per day). if you eat a natural diet, though, you won't have to worry! score.

also, don't forget about pesticides on produce and animal products. when you can, buy organic (when it counts!).

really sucky, but really important: please watch your added sugars. yes, even "healthy sugars," like brown rice syrup, agave, honey, etc. i know it's a crazy-hard habit to break, but sugar makes everything hurt worse.

while chronic pain patients especially should avoid chemicals, caffeine, and sugar, everyone would benefit from staying away. they aren't natural, are questionably safe at best, and are proven to increase pain sensitivity... if you can help it, avoid them like the plague.

and caffeine isn't bad in itself, but it can cause cycles of fatigue if you rely on it too much. i believe in the powers of coffee (amen?), but try as i may, it cannot replace sleep (a common practice if you're hurting and can't rest). try to keep your coffee/tea in small amounts, and before lunch so you can catch those much needed ZZZs.

most important? chill.
i know what you're thinking... "don't stress?!? i have a chronic illness and you just gave me a checklist 50 miles long!"

i'm really sorry about both. truly, i am. although eating healthy is important to feeling your best, freaking out about every little bite you put in your mouth will undo all the potential benefits! as much as possible, please don't worry... i promise you will become excellent at managing your disease, and eating for it will begin to feel natural. you should put a good effort into it, yes, but the whole point is to help you, not create more stress!

i know it feels overwhelming right now, but you can do this! you will learn so much on how to cope, and about yourself. you will meet amazing people who will support you, and you'll learn HUGE life lessons.

just don't give up when it gets hard. please, don't.

tips to share?
advice on how to manage healthy eating?

EDIT - check out melissa's amazing cookbook giveaway!


  1. wow, when i was vintage shopping and looking through the used books i saw one called "the fibromalgya diet" and did a quick flip through. it was really amazing that certain things like omega 3 oils, anti-inflammatory fruits like pineapple, and gluten-free diets really made a HUGE impact on the lives of those suffering. I have major hypoglycemia issues, and used diet to help deal. every now and then i get set off but it isnt by desserts but more of too much fruit.. but i think anytime we are dealt with a disease, disorder, syndrome, whatever! diet and lifestyle are going to be the first step to giving us that 'breathing space' to focus on the healing. all the junk just makes us feel victimized vs. empowered

    xoxo <3

  2. Thats so great that you have found a way to make things easier for your body through adjusting your diet! I love reading things like this, I'm sure you'll be able to help a lot of people through your experience.

    Dont stress over school girl! I am just starting to go for a degree in September. Hey, i hit some road bumps! bumps that I needed in my life and I WOULD NOT take them back.

    Dana xoxo

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  4. This is really enlightening stuff, and I think it's good to forge your own individual path through life. I've just abandoned academia to start again and go back to college to do art. Besides, it's more interesting to be a bit different ;)

    Sarah x

  5. Great post with so much information...thank you!
    It stinks that you have to start off as a freshman, but you have a great attitude about it so that will only help :)

  6. I found this post to be so interesting. I can't imagine living with chronic pain...and how it affects every moment of your life.

    I know that how I eat affects how I feel one hundred percent, and I imagine if you have chronic pain and/or an illness that it would affect you even more. Thanks for the well thought out post.

  7. Great post, Rebekah.
    You are so good at presenting complicated information in a understandable way, and it is always interesting to read your posts.

    You should feel incredibly proud for being back at school. I can very much relate to this little piece inside of you that can not help but feel a little bit down when looking at the other students, and think "that should have been me".
    But school is not the only place where we grow as humans and learn valuable lessons. Good and bad experiences both teach us a lot - you have learned what an incredibly strong and beautiful person you are. From challenges we learn.
    You are indeed a changed person, and that is beautiful and powerful. Within you lies the most wonderful abilities and desires - your future is bright, my friend.

  8. Thank you SO much for this post! I have a friend who has been suffering from fibromyalgia for a while now, and I passed her a link to your wonderful blog. Thanks for all the awesome tips! Yay for natural, fabulous tasting foods :D

  9. Girl I love ya and this post is fabulous just like!!!! I love how strong you are even though people may not think this disease is as serious as it is! And I love how you stress wholefoods, that should be the foundation to every diet. You should be the postergirl for living with fibro,everytime I see the commercial for the fibro meds I think of you aha

  10. oh an I transfered too after my associates degree in culinary....and it put me basically a year behind because had to make up so many creds i havent even started nutrition classses yet ahah

  11. First of all.....artificial sweeteners are the devil. HAHA. Seriously though. They increase pain levels and taste awful......what is the point? I mean....if you want something sweet, cheat once on something real, go back to your diet, move on. (Unless you're hypoglycemic. Then don't cheat cause sugar will spike your blood sugar levels also....and you'll have pain from that. Basically go eat fruit and enjoy being pain free in that case. Fruit tastes WAY better when you haven't had sugar in months anyway. Like candy.)

    Omega-3's are my savior in the winter. It's like DW-40 in my joints!

    I'm still needing to research gluten free diets.....and am crazy intimidated to wipe out my pantry with all new types of food, but I know I can do it. I did it for a year before when I quit sugar on a hypoglycemic diet for migraines...(Then had to quit that diet when I found out fake sugar was so terrible and I couldn't exactly go off of sugar 100% [Plus I got sick again and realized it wasn't really that diet helping, but the changing of seasons.])

    P.S. I don't know exactly what you have, but a doctor in Arizona at the Mayo Clinic found a link between FMS/Migraines/Chronic Fatigue and a disease called Dysautonomia of your heart. I guess if you have this disease you take a test called the "Table Tilt Test" and they check your blood pressure at various tilts, and it is supposed to go catty wompus as your diagonal tilt changes. People who show this symptom randomly get better in a matter of years.....healed from Fibro. Not even joking. It attacks in our young lady years and then tapers off or disappears. I am not sure where to figure out if I have it locally, because I have all three FMS/Migraines/Fatigue. And Arizona and the Mayo Clinic are quite far. But there is hope possibly. It's worth asking your doctor right? And if they think you're crazy ask somebody else who will give you a chance. Get the test. I'm going to try. I want to know.

  12. excellent! :)
    i can relate to all the points you made. every time a new food intolerance would pop up, i'd just
    1-"man up" and be like "ok, here we go, another food to eliminate. but, i'd rather eliminate toxic (to me) food than be sick and miserable."
    2-having all my intolerances, it certainly does leave room for vitamin deficiencies. i found out i was severely deficient in D. D3 supps to the rescue :)
    3-no gluten,dairy,casein, or eggs for me :(
    4-splenda is a trigger. so,now i use stevia as much as possible :)


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