Dr. Pellegrino, author of the book Fibromyalgia: Up Close & Personal, says that it is common for female Fibromyalgia patients to gain 25 – 30 pounds within the first year of their illness being diagnosed. Weight gain occurs with Fibromyalgia because of:
Decreased metabolism. This is due to hormone changes that occur with FM. Affected are the thyroid, cortisol, serotonin, and growth hormone.
Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is also common with FM. According to Dr. Pellegrino:
Increased sensitivity to insulin will result in too much glucose being removed from the blood stream and pushed into the muscle. All this extra glucose pushed into the muscles has nowhere to go as the muscles have very limited ability to store glucose.
The body is forced to go into a fat-storing mode where it converts this extra glucose into fatty tissue. Contrary to the popular myth that obesity is a result of eating too much fatty foods, obesity is usually the result of eating too many carbohydrates. A carbohydrate rich diet causes weight gain by converting the extra glucose into fat and, if Fibromyalgia causes more insulin activity and sensitivity, then the weight gain can be even greater.
Medication. Along with taking medications comes side effects, which include weight gain. Fibromyalgia medications can decrease the metabolism, cause fluid retention, hunger, and hormone deficiencies.
Decreased activity. Fibromyalgia patients will have a decrease in physical activity due to pain. The more active, the more pain is felt. Because less calories are being burned, weight gain will occur.
Now that we know what causes weight gain in Fibromyalgia, what can we do about it? Here is a brief summary of suggestions and you can read the full explanations and article on ProHealth.
Foods that are okay to eat:
- Lean meats, skinless chicken, fish & turkey.
- Eggs, but egg whites are healthier.
- Soy meat substitutes.
- Dairy products – use the lowfat varieties.
- Legumes – beans, peanuts, lentils, peas, soybeans.
- All vegetables. Corn has more carbs than other vegetables.
- Fresh fruits. Avoid dried fruits.
- Preferably olive oil – other acceptable oils include plant oils, soy, corn, peanut and sunflower oil.
- Fish oils.
- Salad garnishes.
- Flaxseed oil.
- Artificial sweeteners, sugar-free beverages (in moderation).
Foods to Avoid
- Breads, sweets, pastas, white rice, white potatoes, partially hydrogenated oils, carbonated drinks, alcoholic drinks.
Dr. Pellegrino’s Diet Strategies:
- Think protein always. A key with this diet is not to eat any carbohydrate foods by themselves, even if they are considered good carbs.
- Avoid the rush. To avoid a carbohydrate surge, take a few bites from proteins first whenever you eat.
- Eat until full. Try to eat at least 3 meals a day and have 1-2 snacks. At meals, eat until you are comfortably full but not stuffed.
- Strict during the week, splurge a little on the weekend. The diet is 5 days “on” and 2 days not so “on.” This allows people to follow the basic rules during the week but also allows the anticipation of favorite foods over the weekend.