Fibromyalgia is an incurable chronic pain syndrome that is renowned for causing a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms, including headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome and sensitivity to changes in temperature. In addition to these symptoms, another common side effect of fibromyalgia is weight gain, which can be one of the most frustrating and depressing side effects for sufferers. There are several factors that cause weight gain, which are both directly and indirectly linked to fibromyalgia, but the following tips can help you to manage your weight and remain healthy whilst living with fibromyalgia.
How Fibromyalgia Can Cause Weight Gain
Seeing the numbers go up on the scales can be frustrating and depressing for anyone, let alone those suffering from all of the other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Weight gain is a common side effect of fibromyalgia, and there are a number of different reasons as to why fibromyalgia patients often gain weight, including:
- Hormonal imbalances – fibromyalgia can cause hormonal fluctuations, affecting the levels of cortisol, leptin, thyroid, serotonin and insulin, as well as growth hormones. These imbalances can slow the metabolism down, making it difficult to maintain weight. Additionally, they can also send inaccurate hunger signals to the brain, making it difficult to control the amount of food you eat.
- Sleep problems – Many fibromyalgia sufferers have trouble sleeping, often leading to extreme sleep deprivation. This can lead to an increased appetite, reduced metabolism and food cravings, ultimately leading to weight gain.
- Medication – There are a number of different medications, including antidepressants, which can cause weight gain in fibromyalgia sufferers.
- Lack of exercise – The pain associated with fibromyalgia can be so intense that sufferers avoid exercise at all costs, making it difficult to maintain or lose weight due to inactivity.
- No Motivation to Eat Healthily – During flare ups, when pain is particularly bad, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to eat healthily. Whether you’re too tired to go food shopping, or your pain is too bad to even contemplate cooking, it can lead to making poor food choices, resulting in weight gain.
Although many of the symptoms and side effects of fibromyalgia are unavoidable, there are ways to reduce the amount of weight gained and regain some control over your condition.
Is it Possible to Maintain Weight With Fibromyalgia?
Whilst it can be difficult, there are steps you can take to maintain your weight if you suffer from fibromyalgia. It’s important to pay close attention to your diet in order to give you the best chance of maintaining your weight, especially if you find it difficult to exercise with the condition.
There are a number of different diet tips* which might help to avoid the weight gain associated with fibromyalgia, including:
- High protein, low carbohydrate diet – If you’re struggling to maintain your weight with fibromyalgia, a high protein, low carbohydrate diet might help you. Switch your carbs, for high-protein foods, such as eggs, tofu, meat and legumes, as well as increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Don’t overeat – When you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, you should try to avoid eating until you’re stuffed. Instead, only eat until you’re comfortably full and try to eat slowly. Additionally, eating regularly throughout the day instead of eating three large meals will help you to avoid getting so hungry that you overeat.
- Eat protein first – When you’re eating a meal, make your protein source your top priority. This will help you to activate protein digestive enzymes, which help to slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.
- Don’t be too rigid – When following a diet plan, it’s important not to be too rigid with your routine. Whether you allow yourself one treat every day, or just relax a little at the weekends, it will make it much easier to follow the rules than if you don’t allow yourself any leeway.
- Stay Hydrated – Dehydration can often exacerbate feelings of hunger, so it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day in order to control your appetite and avoid overeating.
- Prepare in Advance – Whether you struggle to choose healthy options when you’re out, or flare ups prevent you from cooking healthy meals – having healthy options on-hand can help you to stick to a healthy diet. So whether you keep healthy home cooked meals in the freezer for those days when you don’t feel like cooking, or make sure you always have healthy snacks with you when you’re out – preparing your food in advance can help you to maintain your weight and prevent weight gain with fibromyalgia.
- Keep a Food Diary – a food diary can be useful if you’re trying to maintain your weight. Not only will it help you to understand any downfalls, such as comfort eating, it will also help to make you aware of how much you’re eating each day, making it easier to stick to a diet plan and maintain your weight.
*You should always consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet.
So whether you’re looking to maintain your weight, or shift a few extra pounds, the tips above can help you to manage your weight with fibromyalgia and keep you as healthy and happy as possible.
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