I can share facts for days, but when a flare hits, it’s not the peer-reviewed journals we seek; it’s the personal advice of our peers, of someone who has been there, is there, or can relate.
Hello, that’s me.
When you have fibromyalgia, eating can be difficult even on a good day. Depending on your symptoms, you may experience nausea, lack of appetite, IBS, or simply have no energy to cook, clean, or care about nutrition.
During a fibro flare, things can further escalate. You may be experiencing increased TMJ jaw pain that dis-ables you from chewing foods properly. Items like raw veggies or cooked meat may prove too much challenge to consume. You may be experiencing increased symptoms of depression that could have you forgetting about food or continuously opening the fridge only to close it again. Or, you may be experiencing increased food anxieties whereby you are afraid that whatever you put into your body - no matter what it is - will only make it worse.
Getting through your fibro flare, though, requires the kind of energy that comes from food nutrition. Now, don’t worry, I am not going to give you a list of things to do in advance to prepare for a flare. You prepare for a flare every day you live with fibromyalgia. It’s more than enough. No, these tips are all about what to do when you’re already in the midst of a flare.
Being adequately hydrated helps us with temperature regulation, joint lubrication, and emotional regulation, plus basically everything else. Make this a part of your self-care so it becomes second-nature. Keep a reusable and easy-open water bottle or thermos near. Sip water and herbal tea to help support your system.
2. Stick with ‘safe foods’
My ‘safe foods’ are different from yours. Let’s get that out of the way, first. However, safe foods typically include those you eat when you have the flu: soft, bland, and easy to digest. Examples include yogurt, oatmeal, toast, broth-based soups. My go-to foods during a flare: chicken noodle soup with crackers, dry toast or bagel, scrambled eggs, oatmeal with raisins, basic bean burrito, and anything I can stomach and acquire easily - #honest
3. Go slow
You do not need to eat full meals right now. If you can, awesome. If you can’t, do not let that deter you from eating something small. Anything is better than nothing. During times like these, I actually find smaller snack-sized plates with nutrient-dense foods are easiest to prepare, eat, and digest. Examples: If you’re resting in bed or on the couch, have a plate of hearty crackers, fruit slices, nuts, seeds, etc. If you’re at work, try a hearty soup with crackers or a bun of choice. If you’re in the car or on-the-go, bring something like a Lara bar or Naked bar or their equivalent* - basically something that is made with whole ingredients and no added sugar. You don’t even need to eat this all at once, either.
4. Listen to your body
You know your body best, so ignore the rest. Focus on feeding yourself colorful foods, fresh foods, and foods that give your body the fuel it needs to power through. Accept that this means something different for you than it does for others. Healthy eating and healthy living is not one-size fits all - it’s a spectrum like everything else.
5. Get rid of guilt
I drink coffee (by the gallons). I consume sugar in processed items like dairy-free coffee creamer (in the gallons). I eat fried foods (gasp, I know). I live and make choices and am an adult in this body, and so are you. Get rid of the guilty voices from your past and present. They do nothing but shame you into feeling worse and needing more comfort in the form of external items like food. Releasing the guilt is a powerful exercise that allows you to stop putting so much stock into your food choices as representations of personal worth. It empowers you to feed yourself from a place of nutritional hunger, not emotional.