When you have fibromyalgia, you figure out quickly that the difference between being miserable or thriving in life lies in managing your (sometimes limited) energy. Contrary to what you may have heard, you DO have a great measure of control over your energy and the lifestyle choices you make will be key.
Fibro is not a bolt of lightning sent down from above to punish us and we are not helpless victims. The flip side is that if you keep doing what you have always done, in terms of how you eat, move and get along in the world, you will keep on suffering. You have to want to feel better enough that you will put in the work to assess and change what is not working for you. Most times, diet is one of those areas, and it’s the area my clients generally need the most support to change.
So in the spirit of being the unstoppable, feisty, fibro fighter that I know you can be, check out this list of the top 5 energy zappers to avoid:
You will hear this again and again and for good reason. Sugar is not your friend. It’s not mine either. It causes inflammation, insulin surges and weight loss resistance, diabetes, excess weight and it is fuel for cancer. Realize that “sugar” covers all sweeteners, even “healthy” ones (honey, agave, maple syrup), excessive fruit (especially dried fruit like raisins or dates) and starchy carbs that break down into sugar as soon as you eat them. Cut back on sugar, way back, and you will no longer suffer the blood sugar spikes and crashes that make us feel horrible. For more, see my blog “3 Tricks To Tame Your Sweet Tooth.”
If you need caffeine to get going in the morning and/or get through the day, you are not well rested enough. Work on getting 8 hours of quality sleep per night (see “What the Heck is Sleep Hygiene” for more tips on that). Caffeine causes jumps and dips in your energy, similar to sugar, and you end up feeling worse than before that mocha grande latte. Do your health a favor and wean off of the caffeine. You can step down to green tea (still caffeinated) and then slowly make your way to herbal tea.
- Starchy, refined carbs
This is another food that will impact you in a similar way as sugar, causing energy crashes after an initial “high.” In this category are crackers, chips, cookies, baked goods, and bread. Phase these out of your diet and get more energy naturally.
4 Pre-packaged foods
Convenience foods that you toss in the microwave are not actual food. They are devoid of any nutrition (due to inferior ingredients, freezing and then nuking) and loaded with chemicals, preservatives, sodium, GMOs, often sugar, unhealthy fats, and are best avoided. It is WELL worth the effort (and less expensive) to cook real, whole foods from scratch and make enough for a few days so that you still can have the convenience of not having to cook every single night. You deserve to nourish your body with real, nutrient-rich food. Your body will respond to this love by giving you less pain and more energy.
Don’t be pulled in by advertising that touts “healthy” “natural” or “gluten-free” either. If it’s pre-packaged in a box or bag, move on.
- Stress/adrenal fatigue
This one has nothing to do with food but is a major cause of low energy: stress and the resultant adrenal fatigue. I was one of those crazy Type A people who thought this stress stuff was a bunch of hooey. That thinking led me to years of pain and suffering. Once I understood the mind/body link and adopted strategies to calm my mind and body, I found relief, and you can too. Start with a practice of gratitude (see “Grateful for Fibromyalgia”) and learn to meditate, even if it is just 10 minutes a day. For more tips on self-care see, “Energize and Re-Center With Mini Breaks.”
Have you noticed certain foods or behaviors that zap your energy? What do you do to avoid those? Please share with all of us by leaving a comment here. We love your feedback!