My Fibromyalgia Diet: Using Diet For Joint Pain & Chronic Illness

diet for joint pain
Sue Ingebretson
Written by
Sue Ingebretson Health Coach & Chronic Warrior

My newbie diet for joint pain started off on a whim. It wasn’t a plan so much as it was a knee-jerk reaction. I’d had it. I was annoyed with my fibromyalgia doctor and thought, “I’ll show him!” Boy howdy did I. How was I to know that the results would be shocking? 

I created my own newbie fibromyalgia diet for chronic pain (although at the time I had no idea that’s what I was doing). More importantly, I created a “take charge of my own life” plan. That’s where it started.

In this article, I’ll share the nitty gritty of my original newbie diet for chronic pain. It wasn’t thought out. It wasn’t even very creative. It’s actually painfully simple, but that was my thinking process at the time. I wanted to make a change, so I did. And, I’m oh-so-grateful. Here’s what I ate.

My First Steps: Seeing the Connection Between Food & Inflammation

I ate salads including chicken and eggs here or there. I experimented with new veggies. I drank water. I kept it simple.

I had no idea at the time that I was going wheat/gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, grain-free, bean-free, legume-free, caffeine-free, processed foods-free, artificial sweetener-free, low carb, etc. I just wanted to see a drastic change in my cholesterol. I believed that I could lower my cholesterol yet still experience pain. I believed they were completely unrelated.

I was sort of right – but mostly almost all wrong. The basis of my entire wellness journey was on old-fashioned stubbornness. It wasn’t based in some grandiose plan to heal, get well, and leave fibromyalgia behind me. I wanted to prove one tiny point, and in doing so … completely transformed my world.

I had no understanding of the vital connection between food and whole body inflammation. I didn’t understand the role that processed foods, chemicals, and the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) has on the development of fibromyalgia and autoimmune conditions.

Shocking Changes in My Body

All I knew is that when I changed what I ate, I began to see results almost right away. The first thing I noticed is that the painful choking feeling I had at night disappeared. For months, I’d feared choking in my sleep — swallowing felt contracted and difficult. This also seemed connected to my horrific chest pain that radiated up through my collarbone and across my back. This symptom noticeably diminished and then disappeared within ten days or so. Within a few weeks, I experienced a drastic improvement in the stiff and painful joints in my hands. No doubt about it, I was thinking more clearly as well. There was no question – what I was eating made a difference. There has to be a diet for joint pain.

Within a few months, I began to feel so good that exercise became a natural progression. I started a fitness routine at home and eventually joined a gym.

Did all my symptoms disappear? No. It took time for the majority of my pain to go away, but I’m glad to share that (barring temporary injuries) I live with about 5% -10% of the pain that I once had. I cleared up the vast majority of my symptoms, but things are not perfect. Fibromyalgia is always there waiting to let me know if I’m on track with my nutrition and stress management plans.

Of course, it’s so much easier now to look back and put together the puzzle pieces. The fibromyalgia body is hyper-sensitive.

That’s not news to you, is it? We’re super-sensitive to foods, sounds, smells, lights, touch, stress, and more. When I removed the dietary ingredients that triggered my over-reactive response, my body was allowed to calm down and heal.

Name That Diet For Joint Pain: Paleo-ish  

Just like I had no name for my diagnosis, I also didn’t have a name for the food plan that I followed. Of course, it wasn’t much of a plan, but the labels to identify my health challenge and my diet came later.If you look back on the foods included in my food plan years ago as well as those excluded, you may piece together that my diet had many elements of what’s now referred to as Paleo (or Paleo AIP which stands for Auto Immune Protocol). It also extends into Keto and there’ll be more on that later. 

The Paleo nutrition plan includes mainly:

  • Nutrient-dense, fiber-rich veggies
  • Healthy, natural fats
  • Grass-fed, organic, antibiotic-free meats
  • Free-range, cage-free, antibiotic-free eggs
  • Wild caught seafood
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Organic fruits

Paleo eating plan avoids:

  • Grains (thereby eliminating gluten entirely)
  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Processed foods and sugars
  • Starchy foods (white potatoes)
  • Alcohol

Where Paleo Can Go Wrong

When paleo became an everyday word, what type of recipes proliferated? You guessed it – desserts. If there’s a way to “cheat” on any nutrition plan, then that’s the topic that will sell the most and gain the most interest. That’s just human nature. But this is dangerous when planning a diet for joint pain.

However, just because there’s an abundance of recipe books touting paleo-friendly desserts, doesn’t mean you have to buy them. Sugar is sugar even if it comes from natural sources such as dates, honey, coconut sugar, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. I simply don’t make sugar-laden desserts on a regular basis. As a treat here or there? Fine. Every day? Danger ahead, Will Robinson.

Paleo websites, books, magazine articles, etc. also can lean quite heavily on the “meat” aspect. Picture Fred Flintstone’s car tipping over from his giant dinosaur-sized portion of ribs. Here’s another unfortunate visual – for many, the term “Paleo” is synonymous with bacon. There are bacon cookbooks with bacon brownies, bacon pizza crusts, and bacon pies. I’ve even seen bacon-scented candles on sale on paleo-related forums. That’s just gross.

Again, to each his own, but I rarely eat bacon. I just don’t think of it. Furthermore, if you don’t want to have it at all, that’s fine and dandy. Paleo is not a meat and bacon diet. Proportionately, I eat far more greens than meats.Paleo can also go wrong in areas of focus and balance. 

The Trick: Search Paleo Recipes 

The reason why scouting for recipes using the term “Paleo” is important, is that you’ll know from the get-go, that your search will exclude Paleo unfriendly ingredients. Your results are likely to eliminate processed foods, grains, dairy, etc. That’s a fabulous time-saver! I’ve become pretty adept at making healthier ingredient substitutions in recipes over the years, but why make it harder than it has to be?  

The success of any nutritional plan weighs heavily on variety. Same ‘ol, same ‘ol is the kiss of death when it comes to sticking to a new foodie plan. That’s why the “paleo” search term trick is helpful. Would you rather search for recipes using ALL of these search terms, “dairy free,” “gluten-free,” “grain free,” “legume free,” “processed foods free,” and “added-sugar-free,”– OR just search using “Paleo?” Simplicity is the key when searching for a diet for joint pain.

This article was originally published on

Sue Ingebretson
Written by
Sue Ingebretson Health Coach & Chronic Warrior

Sue Ingebretson is a sought after symptom-relief expert in the fibromyalgia, chronic illness, and autoimmune communities. Known for getting to the root of health challenges, her methods deliver long-term results using a light-hearted approach without quick-fix remedies that only mask symptoms. She’s an author, speaker, certified nutritional therapist, clinical hypnotherapist, master NLP practitioner, and an integrative nutrition health coach. She has additional certifications which include EFT, Time Line Therapy, and Success Coaching. Read more at

This article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek medical advice from your physician or health provider for your specific needs.

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