People with fibromyalgia often experience weight gain due to several factors that are directly, and indirectly, related to the disease itself.
In this blog, we look at the relationship between fibromyalgia and weight gain and provide information on how and why it happens, along with helpful tips on how you can try and prevent it if you suffer with the condition.
Fibromyalgia is a long-term chronic pain syndrome that, unfortunately, is incurable and causes widespread pain for sufferers on a daily basis. As well from the debilitating effect it can have on the everyday lives of so many, most sufferers also endure the additional challenge of coping with weight gain.
Fibromyalgia leads to hormonal imbalances, affecting levels of cortisol, thyroid, serotonin and insulin, as well as the production of growth hormones. As a result, the metabolism slows down and weight gain often naturally follows.
Fatigue associated with fibromyalgia can also lead to an increase in weight. Fibromyalgia initiates a wake-like disturbance in the brainwave pattern during sleep, which means sufferers do not get sufficient restorative rest. Sleep apnoea – pauses during night-time breathing accompanied by snoring – is an additional problem, along with restless legs, which further increases tiredness.
A recent study found that a lack of sleep leads to higher hypocretin production, which has a direct effect on appetite levels. When hypocretin neuron levels are high, they not only lead to fatigue, but also to overeating. In addition to fatigue, the extreme and constant pain caused by fibromyalgia inhibits the ability to exercise, which means many patients are unable to partake in any form of exercise and, as a result, are increasing their risk of gaining weight.
Prescribed drugs taken to treat fibromyalgia-related depression can also cause an individual to gain weight, increasing appetite, fluid retention and affecting hormone levels and, therefore, metabolism.
It’s imperative to maintain a healthy, balanced diet in order to minimise the amount of weight gain caused by fibromyalgia. However, we understand that this is often easier said than done, therefore, we have put together a brief list of tips to help. Take note of the following and your chances of gaining weight as a result of your fibromyalgia diagnosis will be reduced:
Goals: It’s important that you set a realistic goal or set of goals, as you will be more optimistic about achieving it.
Diary: Try to keep a food diary. Comfort eating is a natural reaction to being in pain. Noting down what you eat and when will help to keep your bad habits under control.
Healthy is key: Stay away from faddy, quick-win diets. Instead, embark on a healthier eating regime that is sustainable.
Lean meats: When eating meat, opt for skinless chicken and turkey, which are lean meats with a high source of protein.
Eat more of certain foods: Increase your intake of foods that are rich in fibre and low in sugar, such as vegetables. Eat plenty of fresh fruit but try to avoid dried varieties, as they can contain sugar and preservatives.
Good fats: Omega-3 fatty acids are important in a healthy diet and can be found in cold-water fish. Other good sources of fat include almonds, avocados, fish oils, and olive oil.
Bad fats: Avoid where possible fried foods, highly processed foods, white flour, sugar, and alcoholic or carbonated beverages.
Light exercise: On days where you feel like you can, taking part in light exercise will help to burn a few calories and keep you as active as possible. Try to take part in gentle exercises, such as walking, stretching, and yoga. If possible, try to gradually increase the amount of walking you do per day, even if it’s only by a few minutes or steps. Remember to stop when you feel like you’re in pain or may have took on a little too much; over exercising will do more bad than good.
At Brian Barr Solicitors, we handle compensation claims for a wide variety of fibromyalgia patients, therefore, understand the condition well. This being said, however, it is important to remember that we are not medical experts, so if you’re worried about gaining weight as a result of fibromyalgia, we would recommend that you talk things through with your doctor. Although we are not able to provide medical advice, we are able to offer sound legal advice to those of you who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia as a result of an accident or injury. To speak to one of our experts, call us for free on 0161 737 9248 or click here to fill in our online contact form.