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Fibromyalgia, IBS and Diet: My Experience

5-10 years ago, I wouldn’t have even thought about when or what I was eating, let alone what gluten was. In science lessons at school, I used to think a balanced diet meant I could eat lots of sugary things if I had vegetables!

However, I later found out this was not the case…

Since my fibromyalgia and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) diagnosis, I’ve chosen to cut out gluten and dairy from my diet. Gluten causes my stomach to balloon and my muscles and skin to feel pained and more sensitive. I also chose to stop eating dairy as it would again upset my stomach and cause bad congestion. I am not recommending you choose the same diet as me or am claiming to know exactly what works as everybody is different. But I feel better, being aware of what I am consuming every day and how it affects my body.

Body connection

I didn’t realise how much our brain, mood, and stomach are all connected. I have read about the nervous system and the gut-brain connection. When I’m stressed or nervous, one of the first places I feel it is in my stomach. If I eat lots of sugar then I often feel more tired and bloated and personally, this can lead to me feeling more anxious.

I’m currently at the height of figuring out what my day-to-day diet is. I’m one of those people that loses my appetite when I’m stressed. This is heightened when food is the source of pain or discomfort. So, I’m working on my relationship with food to work around this.

What can I personally recommend?

The things I have learned over the years are:

  • Try to eat at the same times each day – giving your digestive system a routine I’ve found can help your body to be more regular.
  • Eat a balanced diet of good foods but do treat yourself now and then
  • I’ve trialled many different gluten-free items and now I have my go-to – finding a good list of go-to items and meals can make it easier and more enjoyable.
  • I eat leftover dinner or cook pasta/ rice for my lunch (I don’t like lunch, so this helps as it’s quick and tasty!)
  • I’ve made a meal list on my phone, so each week I can choose tasty meals, rotating them weekly. It also makes food shopping easier, and I know I’m going to enjoy it.
  • For me, I have found eating little and often works well for my digestive issues.
  • Invest in some cookbooks – from this, I’ve got some amazingly sweet and savoury gluten and dairy-free options that even my family and friends enjoy. Then I don’t feel I’m missing out.

What small changes could you make?

Sit down and schedule in your diary, time to assess or reassess your symptoms, mood, and diet. Maybe there are small changes that you could implement that would help. Sometimes what you liked before isn’t what you enjoy now, so this helps shake things up a bit.

Even if you don’t have digestion issues but you want to feel more awake and energised. You could spend some time researching or book to see a professional – finding out what diet would be good for you.

For example, if you don’t like breakfast, try a fruit tea to gently wake your stomach up, and try eating an oat biscuit mid-morning. (There are amazing recipes out there for batch cooking these). Lastly what about finding someone to follow who cooks and bakes what you like? That way you can be inspired by new recipes each week.


If you are struggling with your food or diet and think you may be struggling with an eating disorder, contact your GP as soon as you can. There are professionals and organisations who can help you to manage your mental health, such as BEAT Eating Disorders. Additionally, you can call the Samaritans FREE on 116 123 if you are ever in a crisis. Additionally, find information and guidance about eating a healthy, balanced diet and digestive health on the NHS website: NHS – Eat Well

Fibromyalgia, is a disorder that affects muscle and soft tissue, often accompanied by symptoms such as chronic muscle pain and tiredness. Find out more about the signs and symptoms here: Fibromyalgia – NHS (

You may also be interested in reading Sharon’s blog on the relationship between food and mood: How our mood affects our food ⋆ Dorset Mind Mental Health

Special thanks to Dorset Mind Ambassador Alexandra for writing this informative blog.

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