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May is National Fibromyalgia Awareness and Education Month! Spinach for everyone!

Posted May 10 2011 9:10am
So you might be asking why I would be writing about Fibromyalgia on a food blog... well its simple - I have it and so in an effort to raise awareness of this mysterious disease I decided to do a blog post on the subject. Plus I firmly believe that the food we eat affects our bodies in profound ways!

So what is Fibromyalgia?
Well it's a chronic pain disorder that effects nearly 10 million Americans. While the pain of FM is generally wide spread it can also be concentrated in certain areas and often is accompanied by fatigue, headaches, migraines, emotional disorders, and on some days just an all around crappy feeling! For me my symptoms are mostly pain and fatigue. It seems no matter how much I sleep I am just not well rested.  Recent research has documented neuroendocrine physiological abnormalities that may contribute to the symptoms. This disorder is often co-morbid with other auto-immune disorders - meaning that if you have an auto-immune disease you are much much more likely to have fibromyalgia - which is true in my case and many of the people I know with the disorder.

But you don't look sick...
I would say that from many of the people I have talked to about FM this is probably one of the biggest complaints that I hear. People around you may not notice that you aren't feeling well because you don't look sick. For me my symptoms change from day to day - this is quite common for FM patients and is probably one of the most frustrating and annoying aspects of the disorder. People sometimes think you are faking your symptoms or are skeptical that you are not feeling your best because just the day before "You were fine". To anyone with a friend of family member who has FM please know this - just because we don't look sick doesn't mean that we aren't - compassion and understanding are the best support tools you can use for your family member or Friend.  I think sometimes a lot of people with FM get discouraged and then they let the disorder take over their lives. I try REALLY hard not to let this happen - staying active and going on with life is the best medicine!

My Story....
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when I was around 17 years old - which is very young especially considering that at the time hardly anything was known about Fibromyalgia. It was a really new disease and there weren't a lot of treatment options other than pain medication. I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease of the Thyroid called Hashimoto's Disease (its a disease that involves your endocrine system) about one year prior to my FM diagnosis. I was angry to say the least - I had been an healthy and active teenager and I was heading off to college and then I got hit with these 2 diseases. I was mad that I would have to take a pill for the rest of my life and I felt like I wasn't a normal kid anymore... I was a sick kid! For a while I let the diseases control my life - I gained a lot of weight, stopped being active and got really angry at God for cursing me (at least that's what I thought at the time) with these "Old lady diseases" as I called them.

A few years ago I came to my senses and realized I was letting these diseases control me and make me into a person I didn't like - I wasn't me! I decided to do something about it. I began pursing a more healthy lifestyle and while I am far from perfect I am a work in progress and my symptoms are improving!

Now that I have been living with FM for about 10 years I have learned a great deal about the disorder and how to control my symptoms. Amazingly my new Clean Eating lifestyle has been VERY beneficial for my treatment and I am happy to say that I only have about 3-5 really bad days a month - these usually coincide with rainy days and Mondays (ha ha). Along with medication (if you choose that route) a healthy diet and exercise is the best treatment I have found for FM. And after 10 years I have tried about every treatment there is... I have read many articles that indicate that caffeine and preservatives, along with all the fake food we eat can really aggravate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. If you are someone who has been recently diagnosed with FM or you know someone with a new diagnosis I would recommend that you check out the National Fibromyalgia Association website its where I get a lot of my information and where I got the stats for this post.

So here's that Ultimate Spinach Salad Recipe that I was telling you about in the W2W post last week. Like I said last week - Spinach has some awesome healing properties and is a great source of iron and over vitamins that are really beneficial to the treatment of FM!

Ultimate Spinach Salad
Ingredients and Instructions:

2 cups Baby Spinach - washed and chilled
1/2 cup of shredded carrots
4-5 large strawberries washed and sliced
crumbled Feta cheese - amount to your liking
combine all ingredients and toss in Annie's Naturals Tuscan Italian Salad Dressing

Enjoy!
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