Menopause, Fibromyalgia, and Eating for Wellness
Continuing on with my posts on The Mind-Body Mood Solution, and menopause and fibromyalgia, I thought a great place to begin would be with the “Eating for Wellness” chapter. Especially since the holiday season is now upon us, and many of us (and you can count me in) will be eating more than we should of high calorie, high trans-fat, sugary, and not-so-good-for-us holiday treats.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m truthful, I’m not really a fan of highly disciplined, healthy eating habits. I grew up in Louisiana where everything is deep fried, and if it doesn’t taste good fried, just smother it with gravy, and you’re good to go (just don’t ask me about the Cajuns and their penchant for road kill).
So, when I hear phrases like “eating for wellness,” what I hear is: no fun, nothing tasty, and the perfect set-up for falling from grace; you know, that forbidden fruit kind of thing. But, it’s also true that a diet high in refined sugar and processed carbohydrates – the typical American diet of the masses – leaves me feeling hung-over, exhausted, irritable, and less able to bounce back from day to day stress. Add the stress of hormone imbalance during perimenopause and menopause, and you have the perfect recipe for the aches and pains of fibromyalgia.
Remember, according to my Rheumatologist, fibromyalgia is defined as, “a common, chronic pain condition associated with several co-morbidities (combination of issues) of psychiatric and medical disorders.” According to Dr. Kenneth Orbeck with Body LogicMD, it is also understood to be, “a disease of heightened pain response, and an over-stimulated nervous system.”
As much as I appreciate my Rheumatologist’s definition, I think I like Dr. Orbeck’s better. It’s far less ominous sounding for one, and in simplest terms, fibromyalgia is exactly what he says: a heightened pain response, and an over-stimulated nervous system.
When we do not eat well (i.e. high trans-fat, high sugar, high calorie holiday treats), we place stress on our body. Blood sugar spikes and crashes day in and day out, contribute to fatigue and physical exhaustion. Processed foods which contain high levels of trans-fat, gluten, and preservatives, contribute to chronic inflammation in the body, which in turn, contributes to chronic pain.
So, while I do not wish to be the Grinch who steals everybody’s holiday cheer or rain on anybody’s holiday parade, the unvarnished truth is, if we are suffering with the chronic pain and inflammation associated with fibromyalgia, further complicated by the symptoms of menopause, “eating for wellness” really ought to be our middle-age mantra.
I’m not saying all holiday cheer is out of the question, ladies, far from it. I am a firm believer that adopting an “all things in moderation” approach to life, is much more health affirming than a militant, rigid adherence to “eating for wellness.”
I’m also not going to just leave you with the admonition that you should avoid the trans-fat, calories, and sugar of holiday treats this season. I plan to follow up in my next posts with some healthy alternative recipes for you to try. I’m also going to “put my cookies where my mouths is” and try a few of them myself. Although Dr. Rossman doesn’t offer any holiday recipes in The Mind-Body Mood Solution, I feel certain I will be able to find one or two out there in the land of the wild, wild, web, so don’t forget to check back with me soon!
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women’s health and a women’s freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.