First and foremost in this category is to drink a healthy amount of water each day.
Your body is more than 50% water, often between 60 and 70%. The percent of water depends on your hydration level. People feel thirsty when they have already lost around 2-3% of their body’s water. Mental performance and physical coordination start to become impaired before thirst kicks in, typically around 1% dehydration. So, don’t only drink water when you are thirsty, just drink and drink and drink water throughout the day thirsty or not.
It is very important to drink water that is not treated with fluoride or chlorine or other chemicals.
A reverse osmosis water purifier is a one-time investment that you can install in your kitchen for drinking or cooking that is very well worth it.
If you don’t like drinking plain water, then there are many things you can do to keep your body hydrated and keep mental and physical performance high. You can put lime or lemon juice in your water or sparkling water with the added benefits of helping to cleanse your liver, balancing pH levels and making it tastier.
You could make green tea with the added benefit of antioxidants. Sweeten it with Stevia and add lemon to improve the taste and not increase blood sugar. During warm weather, put it in the fridge and drink it iced.
For more information about Stevia, see http://www.healthkick.info/sugar-sweeteners/ . During warm weather, put it in the fridge and drink it iced.
Try drinking water first thing in the morning as well as before each meal.
Keep water at your desk, in your car, in your purse, by your bed – make it easily accessible and sip on it throughout the day! It is healthy for anyone to drink good water daily, but I think this is incredibly important foundation for any Fibromyalgia diet.
Vegetables: particularly green and leafy ones and colorful veggies are what you want to add into your diet as much as you can. Raw veggies are best and steamed is next best.
I also want to put a plug in here for organic. The amount of pesticides and dangerous chemicals that are used to grow a lot of our produce is astounding. Being ill to begin with, means that we certainly don’t need to be shoveling more toxins into our body.
There is much more information on this and other important aspects of clean, healthy living in my book, HealthKick, Easy Health Living Hacks and on the HealthKick website.
If you are not able to buy all organic produce due to cost or availability, at least know that there are certain fruits and veggies that are more important to buy organic than others. There are certain ones that tend to absorb more of these pesticides than others. The “Dirty Dozen” are those vegetables and fruits that have been found to have the highest levels of pesticide contamination. Here’s the list: http://www.healthkick.info/clean-15-dirty-dozen/
I have tried many, many diets. Some helped me feel a bit better, some didn’t. But finally I took a different approach. Instead of restricting myself of things, I decided to just work on eating more of the things that really did seem to help. One thing that stood out to me across all of the diets I have done was that veggies were almost always part of what was good to eat, especially green leafy veggies.
So I just started working more and more veggies into my life, mostly raw. I didn’t restrict myself on what I could eat. I just focused on increasing my intake of veggies. The reverse psychology worked really well. I started eating less and less carbs and sugars. It calmed my appetite down, digestion improved and my overall portions of food were smaller. I had more energy and was more able to get in some exercise. Adding in a lot more vegetables was the real foundation in my Fibromyalgia diet.
Here are some ways I have worked more veggies into my daily routine that made it easy to eat them more often:
- Veggie smoothies – I make these in my blender to still get all of the fiber (as opposed to juicing). I use spinach, kale, avocado and 4-5 cups of water as a base. I then add different fruit combinations such as strawberries or a berry medley, mango, pineapple/coconut, kiwi fruit and green apples, etc. I add some Stevia and blend really well. They taste great and I love them. My husband slurps them down too and that’s saying a lot. The fruit and Stevia sweeten the drink up and you would be surprised by how good it tastes. There are literally tons of recipes for these if you do a Google search, not to mention books on Amazon.
- Veggie snack plates – There are easy. Just get a bag of those baby carrots, some celery, cucumbers and some broccoli. Chop up the celery, cucumbers and broccoli. Arrange them on a plate and put some reduced fat cream cheese in the center. Have them in the fridge or put them out on the counter at snack time. Chomp on these when you get those afternoon and evening hunger pangs.
- Salads – If you make a great tasting salad (that is creative and tasty), then make enough to last you (and anyone else that you are feeding) for two days of lunch and dinner. Then you can eat salad as part of lunch and dinner as the first course. You get your raw veggies in and you help curb your appetite to be able to eat smaller portions of the rest of the meal.
- Snack packs to take to work or on the go – baby carrots and other chopped veggies (celery, cucumber, etc.) and fruits – make a bunch of packs at once in Ziploc bags so that they are easy to grab and take with you when you are rushing to get to work or wherever.
- Juicing – Once a week I will usually do a big batch of juice. It is so rich in nutrients and very alkalizing for the body. The mean green juice recipe is what I use.
Low sugar fruits: These make great snacks and after dinner desserts. I particularly like all berries, cantaloupe, watermelon, nectarines, papaya, apples and peaches.
Nuts, seeds and beans: Nuts and seeds that are raw are also a great snack or are good to use in salads. Beans and lentils are high in protein and fiber and slow burning carbs.
Some whole grains: Whole sprouted grains being the best and most nutritious. Avoid or cut back on wheat flour and gluten as much as possible.
Fats: It is very important to stay clear of trans fats as they can be very damaging. The oils I recommend you use are virgin coconut oil for baking, frying or whatever, organic butter, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil (these last two should not be used at very high temperatures). You need to watch for trans fats that are added into other foods, such as crackers, chips and tons of other things. Anything that says “shortening”, “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “hydrogenated vegetable oil” contains trans fat. Most margarine contains trans fats.
Stay away from fast food or processed foods.
As you eat more and more of the nutritious foods I have listed above, it should be easier and come somewhat naturally to eat less sugar and simple carbohydrates. This is important because if consumed in excess as sugar and carbs will rob you of already lacking and badly needed energy in your cells. They appear to give you energy at first by shooting your blood sugar up, but then here comes the heavy load of insulin that bombs your blood sugar into a low-energy ditch.
You will likely crave sugars and/or simple carbs when you are tired or in pain and you can get a very short-lived pleasure from consuming them. However, matters just get worse after that and you can end up feeling even more tired or experience more pain. If you can break away from them and stay away from them, then your energy levels will build back up.
Protein: Low mercury fish and shellfish that are not farm raised, as well as chicken and turkey breast meat that are free of hormones and antibiotics, are great sources of protein. Eggs are as well. I also often make a protein shake each day using all natural plant based protein powder that has no added sweeteners in it. I add some berries and some liquid minerals.
Meats and Dairy: If you can buy organic meats and fowl, this is definitely best. You can often get some decent deals at Costco. However, if you cannot buy organic, at least avoid meats, pork, chicken and turkey, as well as eggs and milk products that have been raised with the use of antibiotics and hormones.
There is not that much price difference for this. Chicken and turkey meats and eggs in particular are much more readily available to buy in most supermarkets without antibiotics or hormones.
Many dishes that are routinely made with ground beef can be made with ground turkey meat instead. Spaghetti, meatloaf, lasagna, chili and even tacos can be made with ground turkey and you can hardly taste the difference.
As for meats, organic beef is becoming more and more available and really is recommended. If you are going to buy regular beef (not hormone and antibiotic free), at least try to avoid beef that is higher in fat content, such as ribeye steak, ground chuck or pork.
Regular bacon, because it is so high in fat, is one of the worst. Most of the bad stuff is stored in the fat, so go for lean meats.
Canadian bacon or turkey bacon can replace regular bacon as trying to get hormone and anti-biotic free bacon is usually obscenely expensive. I’ve tried numerous brands of turkey bacon. From my point of view some are pretty icky and some can be quite nice. If you try it and don’t like it, then try another brand before you give up on it.
I have generally tried to only eat red meat once per week and when I do it is only grass fed, without hormones or antibiotics.
As such meats tend to be more expensive, I have opted for chicken and turkey much more often.
Avoid pre-packaged deli meats or processed meats (hot dogs, sausage, lunch meats). Unless you buy organic, these are heavily processed using preservatives and colorants and will use meats or fowl that have been raised using hormones and antibiotics. The best is to buy enough of your meats to be able to slice some off or use leftovers for sandwiches or to use with salads for lunches.
Good alternatives to milk are coconut milk and almond milk. Make sure you get the unsweetened kind and preferably organic.
Canned Foods and Plastic Bottles: Nearly all canned foods of any kind have a lining inside the can that contains BPA-containing resin (BPA stands for Bisphenol A, a carbon-based synthetic compound).
Plastic water bottles should also be checked to make sure they do not contain BPA. Once you check your brand, you can usually just stick to that brand.
BPA has been linked to various health issues, including thyroid malfunctions, obesity, cancer and reproductive problems. There is a lot of controversy on the subject and various investigations underway.
So, I recommend avoiding as much BPA as possible. This is particularly important for infants or young children as well as pregnant women. In short, avoid use of canned foods where possible. Sauces are often available in glass containers. Never cook or microwave in plastic or Styrofoam containers.
Sugars and Sweeteners: Cutting out sugar was tough but very rewarding because I was addicted. Sugar would steal my energy. I might feel good for a bit right after eating it, but soon afterward I would slump. If I did a major sugar binge, then I would often feel really bad that night and/or the next day. Sometimes it would even cause a full flare that lasted a couple of days. It was hard to get off of sugar and took weeks before I was use to it, but life is so much better without it. I have much more energy.
These are the basics of my Fibromyalgia diet that have truly helped me to feel much better with more energy and less pain.
For more information on nutrition and easy ways to live healthier, I have written another book entitled HealthKick: Easy Life Hacks for Healthier Living. It has a lot more great tips and easy ways to work in healthy habits and routines. I really highly recommend it. It is packed with great and usable information that is particularly needed if you are suffering from chronic illness.
It will be available on Amazon. And you can visit www.HealthKick.info and sign up for the blog posts to stay up-to-date on great healthy living tips.