Almost 20 years ago, I changed my diet. I used the following Quick Tip to start my journey (even though I didn’t know I was doing it). I adopted a healthier Fibromyalgia food plan with this quick tip, and everything else naturally became easier. It’s brilliant. It’s simple. And, if I can do it, you can too.
Standard Diet or Fibro Diet?
When I started assessing my food choices, there was no such thing as a “fibro diet.” I’d never even heard any of these terms: gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, grain-free, sugar-free, chemical-free, additive-free, preservative-free, allergen-free, clean eating, plant-based, anti-inflammatory, no sugar/no flour, etc.
And, it was an entire decade before healthier diet and meal plan programs such as Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, AIP, FODMAP, etc. diets came into fashion.
All I knew was that my fibromyalgia body was in pain and something had to change.
So, I started where I always start. Research.
Are there diets that can help improve fibromyalgia and chronic illness symptoms?
Back then, I learned about these basic viewpoints:
Standard American Diet: mostly processed, some natural foods. (We now know that consumption of highly processed, nutrient-deficient, and empty-calorie foods contributes to the painful symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic illness.)
Everything in Moderation: all foods are okay as long as we don’t overdo any. (This plan sounds reasonable and rational. But we now know that it’s neither. For those whose brain is hyper-stimulated by and craves certain foods, they must be very careful with their food choices.)
Food Industry Secrets
The more I learned, the more surprising secrets I discovered about the food industry. There were so many things I didn’t know about the manufacturing process and how food nutrients have drastically changed in the past century. Bread from the 1930’s, for example, would bear little to no ingredient, nutrition-level, or even genetic resemblance to bread from the 60’s and beyond.
According to food manufacturers, that difference would be like comparing a quill and ink bottle to a Bic pen. Progress is always better, right?
When it comes to food quality – the surprising answer is, no.
Years ago, I learned that mass-manufacturing is all about speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. As consumers, we demand cheap and long-lasting foods. Manufacturers comply.
Today, food processing strips ingredients of their original nutrient value (in order to extend shelf-life) and combines them with strategically blended flavor enhancements designed to stimulate hunger. The key to making it all work is to use the cheapest raw materials possible. These manufacturing plants (laboratories) strategically engineer food products for one main outcome — to STIMULATE hunger.
Processed foods make you crave more processed foods.
Processed drinks make you crave more processed drinks.
Notice that processed foods don’t stimulate a desire to devour a head of broccoli or cauliflower.
There’s no natural tendency to overeat raw veggies.
The tendency to crave, overeat, and eat unintentionally (mindlessly) comes from the strategic blending of three different food elements.
For a deeper dive on this subject – check out my article entitled, Beware of Bliss Brain.
What’s Your Mental Picture of the Food Industry?
So, how do we turn this food laboratory experiment on its ear? This is the question I asked myself years ago (before I even understood the power behind the question.)
This question changed the course of my dietary pursuits.
The process took me a few years as I did more and more research into the food processing industry. I shared some of what I learned in food and nutrition workshops.
I once demonstrated the 63 (yes, it was then 63) ingredients found in an average fruit-filled toaster pastry. I wrote out each individual ingredient’s name onto a small dixie cup and spread all 63 of them on the tabletop. It became obvious that other than a small number, each ingredient’s name was some sort of chemical compound that was unidentifiable for the average person.
I polled my workshop attendees asking if anyone had ANY of those ingredients in their kitchen. Their collective response was, “no” and I said, “me neither.”
This is what I shared with the group, “Your mental picture HAS to change.”
When it comes to food laboratory workers, we MUST imagine this:
And when we think of food that comes from real ingredients (including the foods we can make in our own kitchen), we may imagine this:
Don’t confuse these two images. Don’t be deceived. Food manufacturing is a science. Highly-paid chemists are hard at work making sure that everything you taste does its best to light up the pleasure centers of your brain like a Christmas tree.
The science of hijacking your taste buds (through the pleasure centers of the brain) is a very serious business. In fact, the food manufacturing industry is booming. They reported a whopping 5.9 trillion dollar (yes, with a “t”) revenue worldwide for 2019. And, it’s expected to grow nearly another 2 trillion dollars by 2026.
All I can say is that their growth rate isn’t spurred on from my dollars.
My health – and the health of those who consume food in my home – is serious business to me. And, I will continue to use fresh, whole, natural, nutrient-dense ingredients in my meals.
Looking back, it really was as simple as changing my viewpoint of the hands who created my food. Did I eat laboratory-created foods from a scientist who is well-versed in chemistry? Or from an actual chef? (Hint: you get to be the chef in your own home.)
I make my own choices daily. You get to do the same.
Use this Quick Tip.
Make a mental switch of how you view the processing of your food. Is it from a laboratory or a kitchen? Was it prepared by a chemist or a chef?
Your Brain’s Role in the Fibro Diet Quick Tip!
Chemists and scientists in the food industry use your brain’s natural tendencies to manipulate your food choices.
Take back control!
You can use your brain’s natural tendencies too. Use these tendencies in your favor.
The next time you view a commercial for a highly-processed food or pick up a mass-produced food package in your grocery store, what image pops into your mind? Do you see the laboratory where that food was made?
This mental image can fuel you toward making healthier decisions. And, the nudge can be effortless.
The Fibromyalgia Diet
I’ve written on the topic of food, fibromyalgia, nutrition, and diet for quite some time. You may be interested in a 4-part series on this subject, so I’ve conveniently provided the link below.
The Fibro Diet – Start Here – Part 1
For now, when it comes to adopting a fibromyalgia or chronic illness diet, keep it simple. Move away from processed foods. Move toward natural, whole, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods. Don’t forget to use the power of the images you create in your head. They can play a significant role in the ease of making this switch!
I’m way ahead of the dietary connections to pain & illnesses and especially Fibromyalgia! I’ve changed/restricted my diet since the late 1970’s. I’ve fine-tuned my food, supplement & water choices since then but learned that there MUST BE other factors that trigger Days of Increased PAIN.
I’m in the 5th day now of a MAJOR INCAPACITATING FULL BODY PAIN FLARE UP!
I can’t get relief even from Rxs and I’m stuck in bed near-crippled with exhaustive Pain everywhere. I’ve done everything I can think of to feel better but I’m at my wits end. I want a morphine drip on days like this — I’ve known cancer patients who have less pain.
I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.
Barbara – I’m so glad you’ve looked into the connection between foods, nutritional deficiencies, and so forth regarding your symptoms. They are definitely related. And, YES, you’re definitely correct in that there are other things involved too. Especially when it comes to flares. I’ve written about reasons for flares before (https://rebuildingwellness.com/top-nine-reasons-for-a-fibro-flare/) and you might find this post a good jumping-off point to explore your own. What helps is to work backward. What was going on before your flare? Besides an obvious injury, was anything else going on? Stress? Anxiety? Conflict? And were you exposed to any type of chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.) or did you go anywhere that’s different? The detective work to figure out what may have caused it is just the first step. It’s also VERY important to deal with the aftermath in a healing way. If you’d like help, please feel free to message me here. I’m happy to provide suggestions.
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