Fibromyalgia and the sugar addiction

“If only a small fraction of what is already known about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned” , John Yudkin

This is my 79th post on fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue and I often wonder what I will write about next. I recently read an interview with Woody Allen who said he walks around and stories come to him. The same seems to apply to me. This time it is about sharing a dark, deep secret.

I am a sugar addict. There! I’ve said it publicly, even though I have known it for many years. I crave it. I like to mainline it with candy. Cookies and cakes…these take too long to give me the sugar high; candy is the fastest hit, especially chocolate. Years ago I read Sugar Blues and thought it did not apply to me. Like all addicts I thought I could stop at any time; I was mistress of my domain. I have rarely met a candy I did not like. I would hide it away from my kids. I would freeze it. I would ask my husband to hide it from me, knowing full well that I would seek it out within minutes of the hiding. Peppermints lined the bottom of my purse. Desk drawers were stuffed with candy wrappers.  But, wait! I did not turn my nose up at ice cream or cakes or cookies! They were a pleasant second choice. Often I would say with pride that I did not take sugar in tea or coffee. That proved that I was not an addict, right? But then, I rarely drink either coffee or tea so who was I fooling? The experts say that I should substitute refined sugar with fruit. But, this doesn’t work very well for me, psychologically.

After menopause, the addiction became much worse and the weight issue became serious. The blood sugar levels began to rise. The fibro muscle pain increased with the amount of sugar intake. Still, the temporary comfort of the sugar hit was a craving I could not deny. This past winter I decided to go ‘cold turkey’ and lost 20 lbs and my blood sugar levels dropped to normal. I even went through the Christmas season without any sweets in my life. I thought I had finally conquered it! But then, like the alcoholic I tried a little taste of a digestive cookie, then a few weeks later a mint,  a wee bit of ice cream; the increase in muscle pain was noticeable, yet I continued on this path. Very moderate exercise which is all we with fibromyaliga can tolerate, is more painful after the sugar indulgence.

Do I read labels? Of course! Yet, I persist on choosing that which has more sugar to feed my addiction. Here is an example: recently a friend gave me a jar of Newman’s Own mango salsa. I love salsa passionately and ate it all within a week. Not able to find it locally I bought a brand from my supermarket but it did not give me the same high as the Newman’s Own. I compared labels:

Local Mango and Lime: Sugar…2 g, Newman’s Own 3 g.  Local Mango : Sodium 135 mg, Newman’s 180g. Local Mango: Carbos 3g, Newman’s 5 g. Local : Vit C…4, Newman’s 0. So, did I content myself with the local mango which is the better choice? Of course not! I wrote a note to the management to bring in the higher sugar, carbo and sodium brand of Newman’s Own, which tastes so wonderful. This is but one small example of how even such a tiny difference in sugar content can affect my taste buds! It is no doubt due to emotional eating, which affects so many of us with chronic pain,but the comfort is short lived. I want this sugar fix, but it is not a biological need, rather a brain/mind longing. In the July, 2011 edition of the Shambhala Sun magazine, Sasha Loring writes about How to Tame the Wanting Mind with regard to eating issues. It has been most helpful.

What is to be done? I chastise myself regularly.  Berating myself does not work; I only feel worse. I have self talk about discipline. I meditate. I do as much light exercise as I can tolerate without a flare up, yet at the end of the day, the addiction rears its ugly head. For the most part of the day I eat a very healthy diet, but when that urge comes upon me, I struggle, then often give in to it. I know the strategies: eat more fruit, don’t buy high sugar foods, avoid baking, eat only small amounts of high sugar and salt foods. I have lapsed once again. Sugar is in everything it seems, accompanied by its hateful cousin, salt. But, Loring offers expert advice on how to tame this unhealthy wanting.

In all my readings and attempts at dieting I have found that Weight Watchers is the most sensible eating regime to follow.  It isn’t a diet per se but a life style change to healthy eating. It requires discipline and making conscientious choices. But, for those of us who are extremely fatigued, particularly at the end of the day, the desire to eat a comfort food is overwhelming and being sensible isn’t high on the priority list.  Fruit, yogurt, and other  healthy choices require motivation and a change of mind.  The challenges continue. Today though will be a sugar free day…one day at a time. Hopefully, a pain flare will not arise as I strive once more to forgo the temporary comfort of my addiction. This is now the time to change my brain since I have been advocating this approach for those of us with fibromyalgia for the past 2 years! It is about truly recognizing that there are other ways of being happy and uplifted and working with the sense of being unfulfilled. Walking when the weather permits, meditating when the craving descends upon me, these among other strategies suggested by Loring are crucial aspects of taming my mind…I know all the fundamentals. Now to find joy in spite of pain, fatigue and ending the desire to find something outside myself to give me comfort. I am the one I have been looking for! In the words of Judith Viorst “Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands-and then eat just one of the pieces”.

58 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia and the sugar addiction

  1. Deana Fitzgerald

    Hi Barbara…just stumbled on this site as I was researching fibromyalgia symptoms and was quite taken by your book. I too am a nurse, graduated from Victoria General in Halifax and am presently living and working in Maine. Oh yeah, and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years back but when I think about it the symptoms started after my first son was born 12 years ago ( but was treated for many years for other things mostly unsucessfully and and felt that maybe my symptoms were just a result of my being a hypocondriac or due to stress and anxiety.) With 20 years of acute floor nursing experience from medical to presently ICU, I have found this diagnosis is very widespread in our profession( maybe not but it sure seems so) and that is why the relationship between fibromyalgia and “hyperarousal of the nervous system from worrying about others before ourselves and producing a heightened sense of intuition regarding others’ needs, with constant stressful outcomes ” caused me to further investigate and inform my fellow suffering nurse friends. We will be reading the book shortly. Then I discovered that you lived in Halifax and taught at Dalhousie School of nursing. Small world. I am presently reading the entries in your blog and as I said will be reading the book. Trying to learn and understand what is happening to me and why. But mostly I am trying to find a way to not this this control my life and to live to the fullest. Thanks Deana

  2. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hi Deana: It is a small world indeed! I was very happy to hear that you think fibro is so common among nurses. I believe that it is the result of caring for others before ourselves and our intense empathy which is ‘over the top’. Read some of the blogs on empathy and in the book as well. I laid the foundation for the theory that I developed in the book and it has never failed to guide me in my understanding of the issues. It is so difficult not to label ourselves as neurotic, but then it is also a challenge to be struggling with always wondering what will happen next as peculiar symptoms develop that change almost hour to hour sometimes. I would really love to hear more about the nurses you know who also have fibro. I wrote a blog some time ago about Florence Nightingale as I and many others believe she too had our syndrome! Please keep in touch. Kind regards, Barbara

  3. Carolyn Thomas

    Hello dear Barbara! This wonderful post reminded me of how I weaned myself off adding TWO spoons of sugar in my morning coffee many years ago.

    We had an elderly family friend whom everybody called Granny Peg; she offered me this sugar-weaning advice:

    “You take a Nanaimo Bar (…do you have these on the East Coast, by the way? Very sweet, sticky chocolate/creamy confection!) and you get your cup of coffee, but no sugar added this time. You take one bite of your Nanaimo Bar, then two sips of your hot coffee. Repeat until both are gone. By the end of two weeks, you will be completely off adding sugar to your coffee anymore!”

    She was right.

    Of course, I’d gained five pounds and was now addicted to my daily Nanaimo Bars . . . 🙂


  4. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Oh how I love your comments Carolyn. These so called ‘comfort’ foods are so difficult to let go of. I will never be able to say I have conquered that sugar addiction but it won’t be for lack of trying! The struggles and challenges we face trying to become healthy! B.

  5. Janet Simmons


    Relax,meditate, no guilt,keep going and know that you can do anything your heart desires.
    Remember the want factor. What do I really want right now?

    Sometimes sugar will win.


  6. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Thanks Janet. I guess it isn’t really my ‘heart’ but what my brain desires:-) You are right though, give up the guilt! Regards, Barbara

  7. Julie-Ann Preston

    Hi I was just searching for a relationship between fibromyalgia and sugar when I came across your site. It’s very good to know that I wasn’t just imagining it, that when I eat sugary food late at night ( usually chocolate in bed after 9pm) that the pain starts raging. I am a nurse also and knew that stress was a trigger but never thought of empathy as a stressor. My family and friends all say that I am far too empathic and that I take other peoples pain and suffering to personally. I’ve always seen this as an attribute not a weakness, but I guess always worrying about everyone takes it’s toll. I have suffered form depression for 20 odd years and never put the angst of this together with the pain of fibro. At least something good has come out of my sitting up at 1 in the morning in pain and trying to find a link. Thankyou ladies for all your help. Julie-Ann Brisbane Australia

  8. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hi Julie-Ann: Empathy, yes! Overly empathetic, no! Nurses are so prone to fibro and that goes with my theory in my book about women’s roles to over-care! So good points you make. AND, sugar! It gives so much TEMPORARY comfort, but the price we pay for it is heavy! I kow your story all too well, Best wishes, Barbara

  9. Marian Whitcomb

    I know a bunch of people will probably jump all over me here, but I am used to skepticism and derision as a fibromyalgic, so here goes….

    My life is all about conserving energy, in multitudes of ways, so I can squeeze in enough energy to get through the day and do something I want to do (like write to your blog). Otherwise I would succumb to the feeling of being nothing more than an old draft horse that just leans in its traces and plods ever onward.

    I too am a sugar addict in the ways you describe, and ooo ahhh, I love it. But I have also had nutrition courses, which say that virtually all food is broken down into sugar before our body can use it. How does it break down all those complex foods? Energy…. I don’t like whole grains, because I feel drained and fatigued, and I don’t even want to talk about the bloating and the gas.

    Yes, I love vegetables, and eat a lot with the love of my life (who is waay more “crunchy granola” than me). I do feel I am doing better with more of the home-grown stuff, but I attribute that to not living a block from five types of fast food…I am 25 miles from the nearest MacDonald’s. But then again, I am here at 2:15 AM because my intestines are roiling, and I cannot sleep.

    I have a lot of studying to do tomorrow, because I am halfway through business school in the mid-nineties, and it is the hardest thing I have ever done, even though it is only community college. It is a crap shoot (no pun intended) on getting a job (having spent a large part of my net worth on international tuition and to move to Cape Breton), but Canada is the only place I have ever felt at home, and people have been very kind and helpful here.

    Someone could take a new tack here (I am speaking to all you scientists out there) and study the issue of energy conservation from the inside-out. Calories are a measure of energy. Complex molecular bonds in proteins and carbohydrates are broken apart to digest our food with…you guessed it, energy. I see a great deal of discussion on IBS and other intesinal problems and wonder about this a lot, when I want to lie down and pass out after eating whole grain bread.

    Certainly, artificial stimulation is an understandable desire to those who cannot escape the stresses of daily life. Coffee gets me to get out of bed in the morning, sugar gets me through the terrible terminal yawns of an afternoon of classes where sitting is so painful I cannot follow what the teacher says, and my hands so painful writing is unintelligible. In the depths of my frustration at my bleak future in a poor economy and an unreliable body, I will go out for a quick smoke. Yeah, I know it is not good, but I can’t afford any of the really expensive stuff (wholistic, pharmaceutical, or otherwise), and it seems, invariably, I think of a new idea to try, or a reason for hope to keep pushing on when I am out there puffing quietly. No, it doesn’t work when I just go sit outside.

    I sound like a mess. Maybe I am, but we grow a lot of what we eat, and avidly collect wild foods, canning and preserving what we can. I also get a lot of exercise, chant, stretch, and do regular research on fibro when depressed to read the stories of others to help keep my chin up in the face of many people who just think I am worthless because I don’t have a Phd or a lot of money.

    My boyfriend hasn’t quite figured out that this is why I don’t really care what other people think about anything any more. He can’t understand why I gave up an screen addicted husband of $70,000/year to move to Cape Breton to be with him and go to business school at 50. It is because I am alive again! And though desperately scraping by, I would not trade this quieter life and time to think for anything.

    Thanks for letting me say my piece and having a little teeny bit of an open mind! Marian

  10. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Marian:I doubt anyone would ‘jump all over’ you for what you have written. You are a thoughtful, intelligent person who has thought through these issues very thoroughly. Diet is indeed very important and bowel issues affect all of us with fibromyalgia. We have to work with what feels better to us individually. It sounds like you have developed a life style that suits you best. Best wishes with your studies! Barbara

  11. Stephanie

    This blog caught my attention because I too am a sugar addict! A month ago I cut it out of my diet, and I was doing really well until I baked my daughters 1st birthday cake. Now I look at the cookies I baked with my four year old (she loves baking) and think, “one won’t hurt, will it?”. But I know it will. I know it will inevitably cause something to spasm and burn with pain. Or else my hypoglycemia will read its ugly head before I can scarf down my breakfast the next morning. I was diagnosed with Fibro in 2009, I’m now 29, but I know I have had Fibro all my life. I’ve always been “sensitive” and always enjoyed that feel-good sugar high.

    What I find more intriguing than your article though, is a couple of comments between you and another nurse. You say you have long thought your Fibro had come about because you care more or others than yourself and your sense f empathy is more than the average person. I have almost always put others before myself, feeling guilty when I did not. My empathetic nature earned me nicknames like “Sap” because every heart wrenching story brings tears to my eyes, not matter the way it was told to me. I swear I could go to a funeral, not knowing a soul in the building, and personally feel their overwhelming sense of loss and heartbreak. I am not a nurse though. No position I have ever held has come close to the kind of “others first” behaviour a nurse like you practices.

    Is it possible that your empathy is a side effect of Fibro, and not the cause as well? I only ask because through all my research and personal experiences, it has become clear to me that my Fibro is caused by a hyperactive central nervous system. I explain it to people like my CNS is set to high volume and my brain has really sensitive hearing. I have always been sensitive to other’s moods and it has affected me greatly. I believe I’m too dialed in to everything around me and so feel everything more. I have realised that I’m sensitive because I have Fibro. I did not develop Fibro because I was sensitive.

    Just my thoughts. Thanks for yours. 🙂

  12. Caroline

    I have just gone through a couple of days of terrible pain having spent a weekend on a sugar binge. My pain has improved a lot over the last year since I embarked on the SCD way of eating but since I’ve started to forget how bad things were I’ve started to slip back into old ways. There have been a few times when I’ve felt that there is a link between pain/ cramps and sugar but it didn’t make sense. This weekend seemed to confirm things so I googled and here you are saying the same things. My husband is a doctor and he’s looking at how it might be possible.

  13. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Ah, the old sugar addiction. It never leaves but we CAN take control of it like many others who have addictions. Sugar seems to be in everything but we CAN begin binging for awhile on fruit that helps somewhat! Let us know what your husband thinks is the cause of this troublesome addiction! regards, Barbara

  14. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Well, dear Stephanie: I have put myself ‘out there” in my book and writings about being highly sensitive. I doubt I will ever change my perspective. I believe that we are HSPs and then develop fibromyalgia rather than the other way around and use this as the basis of my theory regarding cause. 1) HSP 2) overactive CNS as a result 3) fibromyalgia and all that comes with it. However, like any theory it is there to be challenged and refined. Therefore, I welcome comments from highly intelligent, highly sensitive persons like you:-)

  15. Lex Moran-Solero

    It took me a while to figure out that there’s a sugar/fibro pain connection, but I’m convinced now. Sadly, my body craves sugar because I need the energy to get things done . . . but then the sugar causes pain, so I can’t win. Doesn’t help that I’m diabetic also. I’ve managed to kick the sugar for days at a time and resorted to fruits and veggies for my carb intake, but then all the good work comes undone with a cookie or slice of raisin bread in a moment of weakness. It’s hard to accept that I can NEVER have these things, and so I have some in a misguided effort to prove that theory wrong. All the nutritional knowledge and label-reading in the world can’t win against that moment of wanting to feel invincible. Thank you for writing about this – I was searching for confirmation that there is a connection and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who has found this out.

  16. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Thanks for writing in Lex and in response to your earlier comment about being a man who is writing I say: GREAT! We are all in this together. The sugar addiction is one I try to cope with every day. I sometimes feel obsessed about having some particular treat that I see advertised or even seeing a candy wrapper blowing in the wind! It is dreadful and I can sympathize completely. I ‘allow’ myself one teaspoon of dark chocolate mix in a glass of milk every day to get a ‘fix’, but I could easily eat or drink much much more!
    Best wishes in our joint struggle against the ‘sugar blues’

  17. CathyDee

    Hi There,
    was interested to come across your blog while trying to research the connection between Fibro and Sugar.

    I was diagnosed with Fibro about 10 years ago and spent most of that time absoutley crippled with pain.
    However this has all changed.

    About 6 months ago, I started working working with a wonderful woman who researches problems with horses caused by diet. One of the major issues she found was pain and inflammation in the muscles (seen in shortness in stride, sore backs, twitchy, muscle spams etc) in horses who were grazing grass with a high sugar content.

    Suddenly I sat up and took notice. I started to think about my own diet. Although it wasn’t super high in sugar, I did tend to eat a lot of cracker biscuits and couldn’t drink coffee without a couple of spoonfuls of sugar in it.

    Anyhow, I decided to go cold turkey and stop sugar EXCEPT for a small piece of dark ghana chocolate a day. The first couple of weeks were hell. I was pretty darn grumpy. Then, about a month went by and suddenly I realised I wasn’t crippled when I got up in the morning. Then I realised I could walk freely at night. Whole days went by with NO PAIN!!!.

    It’s been about 5 months with virtually no sugar or refined foods now. I am pain free. My tendons, which were due to be operated on due to severe inflammation, are totally normal, no lumps! This year, although I caught a cold, it was just that and did not turn into my dreaded anual bout of lung infection (Last year I had Pnuemonia)
    There are several things I think have really helped me to stay on board and not go back to eating sugar…

    1. I take Chromium Picolinate which regulates the sugar cravings
    2. The small piece of Ghana chocolate each day means that if I ate something with a little sugar in it, I don’t then get that ridiculous addict thing of going crazy and pigging out on sweets.
    and 3. If I do have a slice of cake – which I did a few weeks back (Being polite at a friends place) the pain comes ripping back overnight and reminds me that the pain is just so much worse than the boringness of refusing cakes and cookies.

    One other thing, I am no longer fatigued – I can work all day and have not needed any rest in the afternoon as I used to have to do.

    I hope this helps someone -great blog by the way
    Cathy Dee
    New Zealand

  18. Val

    I can’t believe I just found this blog. I studied a diet and nutrition course last year because I wanted to find a way of helping me/others with pain relief from fybro. I had a great year, cut out several foods that can make inflammation worse and also lost a few pounds along the way.

    This year though, I began baking as a hobby. I don’t have an addiction to sugar but do like the odd finger full of frosting rather than the cakes themselves. My pain suddenly started to increase, some days its worse than I can ever remember.

    Only in the last few weeks have I noticed that there could be a connection so I had cut down on my sugar intake and I feel 100 times better if I don’t have.

  19. Sabine Elise

    I WAS a sugar addict, and I went through the steps found on Radiant Recovery (website) and in the corresponding book “Potatoes Not Prozac” and have overcome the addiction. It was an arduous process, but my life is so much better now.
    What brought me to your site is how I felt all last week: achy, head-achy, raw nerves, pain in my bones (hard to describe), edgy, pain from clenching my jaw, fatigue that hurt, anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, stomach upset (I think that about covers it).

    I thought over my diet and realized I’d eaten some sugar. Not a whole lot, but enough to throw my system into chaos and put me in bed all weekend.

    I’ve seen commercials for fibromyalgia medications and could remember times in my life (post-sugar detox) when I thought I had the symptoms– mostly feeling that every nerve in my body and bones were raw. Those were time times when I’d eaten sugar, sometimes knowingly (as a former addict, there are times when I swear “One small bit of cake won’t hurt”) and unknowingly (in someone else’s cooking).

    I truly believe there is a very strong connection between sugar and fibromyalgia. I wanted to comment to suggest the website and book for those who’d like to overcome their sugar addiction.
    I hope it helps someone.
    Love to all!

  20. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Thanks so much Sabine. I have ordered that book and will keep you informed. I went to the website and had a potato last night before going to bed, haha! This site and book sounds promising. Thanks for the heads up!

  21. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Thanks for the comment Val. Read the comment by Sabine Elise and her take on Radiant Recovery. Check out that website yourself and let us know how you make out.

  22. Charlan Riley

    I cannot believe I just now found this information. I was diagnosed back in Jan 01 but I believe I acquired it after my father died when I was 14. He’s been dead 41 years and i still cry when I talk about him. Then guess what profession I chose? Yes, a nurse. I did intensive care nursing for 8 years and was a Hospice nurse for 11 years.

    At every doctor appointment I am asked to describe the pain and what seems to trigger it. For years I knew caffeine tipped me off the pain scale. But it’s only been the last couple of years I knew sugar caused pain…for days. I shared that with my pain management doctor and she gave me a tucked head look and peered over her glasses like I was just making stuff up. Wow I am so glad to know that I am not alone.

    I had a gastric by-pass in July 2012. I had successfully gotten off all sugar! (for about 3 months). Now I am unable to make it through the day without my chocolate sugar fix. Every day I make a promise to myself that yesterday was my last sugar fix. I may make it all day and then night falls and so does my determination. I say, I’ve made it all day….
    Knowing that their are FM folks that are also in pain related to sugar gives me strength and hope. There is something so comforting knowing that somebody out there feels like you do.

    Being a nurse has caused me to read about FM in many different forms of publications. I have done precious little research via computer. My daughter was looking up info for me and sent me the site. She thought it might help me with my sugar addictation that also causes me pain. I’d have never found this wonderfully healing site without her. I hope everybody has a best friend who supports and encourges them. Thank you for providing this formum.

  23. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Oh, Charlan: I konow exactly how you feel. I have been off sugar again for 2 weeks today and still feel the urge every second. It is a terrible addiction. Know that you are not alone, Regards, Barbara

  24. Sherry Stover

    After going for several months with but a handful of major flare ups, I thought I had gotten things under control. I had this same issue in the Fall but chalked it up to the change in weather and colder temperatures. The answer then, increase my dosage. But here I am again, back to having one or more flare ups a week and not understanding why. I’ve traced my actions over the last few days and can not for the life of me see anything I’ve done out of the ordinary that would be causing yet another flare up.

    I have never correlated my flare ups with anything I’ve ever eaten, but did make a conscious effort to exclude as much caffeine from my diet as possible. However, here I am again. I’ve wondered for a while now if sugar had a link to fibromyalgia. My addiction to sweets has ruled my life over the last year. At times I find myself driving down the road in a sugary daydreaming coma! Ice cream is my weakness. Our local ice creamery closes for winter, but I have found myself driving 20-30 miles out of my way just to get my fix.

    I’ve also pondered the effects of salt on the fibromyalgia ridden body. I have a lot of swelling with my flare ups, especially in my hands and wrists. Although I’m not a nurse (I’m a respiratory therapist), I understand the way salt can plague the body and how it effects hemodynamics. I’ve found an increased sensitivity to salty foods and have found myself seeking out salt-less or salt-free snacks. But still, here I am.

    I vowed a few months back to make some life changes in eating and exercise. I did well to stick with things, but almost two months later after seeing no results in my weight I got discouraged and my addiction to sweets won out. When I got the notion to rededicate myself to the cause, I began having flare ups more often that prohibited me from carrying out my quest. And…here I am.

    But as I set here with so much pain and inflammation in my joints and muscles, and as I realize the vicious cycle I’m in, I realize I have to break the chains and remove the rat from the race. Which leaves me to wonder…. Do I have what it takes? Somewhere within me I have to muster up the will power and determination to take control of what has been controlling me. Whether it’s the pain, the sugar, or the fatigue, I have to take charge. So, here I am, deciding that I don’t want to be here anymore!

  25. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Sherry, I can relate to your addiction. Having recently had a heart attack and now coupled with fibromyalgia I am so happy I did not become a diabetic. However, I was on the road to becoming one with my insatiable addiction to sugar. It is such a serious addiction and so many of us can understand what you are experiencing! Good luck with overcoming it!

  26. Holly

    Hi Barbara,,,,,I went off white sugar to lose weight,,,,,,I am also a sugar/carb addict,,,,,I have been known to hide cookies and blame the dogs for missing cheesecake. So, I decided to give up almost all white sugar, flour, etc,,,,,,,,and cut down on other carbs like some of the higher carb fruits,,,,,,

    Quite by accident and totally having no clue it would happen,,,,,,I discovered, literally 48 hours after giving up sugar,,,,,,that my joint pain and fibro pain I was pretty used to living with had gone AWOL,,,,,,,yep, in less than 48 hours,,,,,,,,some morning stiffness is all that’s left,,,,I’m hoping this is for good,,,,,,,,

    I was so confused about this that I started googling,,,,,and found this blog post (and a ton of other articles talking about the connection between fibro pain and white sugar).

    Thanks for the fabulous information!!!!!


  27. Kim Bernard

    Thank heavens i found this site. Its all starting to make sense now. I consume way to much sugar, I stress over everyone and everything and i just lost my father to cancer a year ago and i don’t know if i will ever get over the loss and pain of losing him in the manner that i did. I developed anxiety to the point that i was passing out. I ache and pain like its in my bones. I suffer from depression. I started to wonder if sugar was adding to my pain in my legs and decided to see if i could find info on google and here i am. Thank you all for sharing.

  28. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Kim:
    I can relate to all you are saying. My mother died this past summer. My anxieties and stress levels have all been heightened, particularly since I had a heart attack in January. My comfort? Sugar, of course! Temporarily it makes me feel good to have that first hit but soon after the ill effects set in! It takes so much discipline and when I am down and out it isn’t easy.
    Best wishes,

  29. Michelle

    I don’t think it’s just refined white sugar causing the problem. I think it’s what we don’t know like the chemicals being used that companies don’t have to put on the labels. I found out that the shredded cheese you can purchase in the store has fiberglass in it to keep it from sticking. It’s a non sticking agent. I learned when the government approves a chemical it can be used in any way a company sees fit. The company can disguise the name of the chemical too. For a while lighter fluid was being used in toothpaste that was made in China being sold in America. We didn’t know it because they disguised it under it’s technical name. I no longer buy shredded cheese!

  30. Barbara Keddy Post author

    I agree Michelle! Still, too much sugar even from natural sources can end up being a problem. Sugar, salt and fat- the big 3 to be cautious about!
    Thanks for your comments!

  31. Paula Bennett

    I have suffered with pain since the age of 30 following a work related injury.(bulging disc and osteoarthritis) I suffered for 18 months with pain and finally demanded a cat scan and an end to my pain. I am now 48 and unable to work for the past month due to this ?debilitating fibromyalgia syndrome. Finding a new doctor has led me to a path, awaiting to see specialists but I am pretty sure that fibro is the cause of a series of flare ups over the past 18 years. I am pleased to read all of these stories. It is comforting to know that I am not alone and in a attempt to rid my body of pain I have gone on a gluten and sugar free diet for 4 days now. I did have only 1 good day out of the 4. I will continue with this diet and hope for some reprieve. Yes, I do believe that I have craved sugar most of my life. There seems to be a number of related issues with fibromyalgia which creates so much conflicting information. (Diet ,Sleep,Stress,Physical and Mental issues,Fatigue,and so on….) Good Luck everyone and thank you for this info.

  32. Amy

    Hello Barbara, I am newly diagnosed with fm and had an ah ha moment connecting sugar to my pain. Thank you for your wisdom and encouragement. I am so glad to have found you.

  33. Judy

    I just read your article, which basically describes me to a T. I crave sugar to the point where my first waking thought is, I need to hook up with some sweets. No matter how hard I fight my addiction, the cravings become worse and worse over the day. By dinner time, I am climbing the walls, which tough to do as I also have Fibromyalgia. I become irritable and my mind seems incapable of doing more than obsessing about my craving. Invariably, I resort to eating anything I can find that contains any sweetness in it, otherwise, I cannot sleep.

    I’ve tried filling up on healthy veggies and protein, feeding myself healthy fats, staying hydrated, etc. to no avail. I would greatly love to hear from someone who knows of a supplement I can take to rid myself of my sugar cravings.

  34. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Judy, I can relate to you wholeheartedly. I crave it- will do anything to get it- search for it all day and evening! It is a horrible addiction and I don’t know why fibromyalgia sufferers crave it so much! I wish I had a solution! Maybe some day we will have some answers.
    Yours in solidarity!

  35. Judy

    Thanks for your response, Barbara Keddy. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who suffers with sugar addiction. I wonder if sugar has some sort of causative effect on people with Fibromyalgia?

  36. Sher

    Sounds like me. I can just look at a picture of a cookie and start craving sweets. My mother used to make chocolate milk every morning, and some mornings with Capt Crunch cereal, and I was brought up on sweets – even now my parents MUST have something sweet after meals. The whole family is addicted. I have Fibro and possibly CFID, and a thyroid condition, so I know that I need to stop the sugar but when someone else is enjoying it, then I break over and have to have a bite too ( which leads to another bite and then another)
    I hope we can all get over this addiction.

  37. Tammy

    While I feel better to know I’m not alone with my fibromyalgia and sugar cravings. I am finding it hard to control my tears right now. Yesterday my husband’s surprised me with cotton candy. And today I am in so much pain, from my toes to the top of my neck, along with depression. (That’s how I found this Web site) After reading all of the things I should avoid. My gosh, what do I eat? And knowing it has to be a life change! Just feeling over whelmed. But I hurt so much right now I have to do it. It really helps to see how many are with.
    me. Thanks for your posts!

  38. Barbara Keddy Post author

    I understand what you are feeling, Tammy. Your husband meant this gesture to be one of kindness but oh! whatg we suffer when we eat that sugar!
    Well balanced, sugar free, limited salt and watch those fats! Tough disciplined decisions to make…not easy. I too eat many wrong things. Keep up the good work, Barbara

  39. Marti Bryant

    Great blog. I too just put together the idea that sugar and my fibromalgia were related.

    Thanks to all for their thoughts.

  40. Jen

    I see this article is several years old but if you are really serious about beaking your sugar addiction, you should check out
    She has an incredible system to help you free yourself of sugar addiction. I followed it and my fibro symptoms have faded considerably. I know this sounds spamlike but I am just so excited about feeling better that I feel the need to share it with as many fibro sufferers as possible.
    Good Luck,

  41. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Welcome to the site, Lisa! So many nurses have fibro. It never ceases to amaze me. Hyper vigilant, highly sensitive, overly empathetic…any of these indicative of your personality? Sugar is a comfort food that only gives temporary relief, but oh! That first hit is so soothing. Then comes the crash. It’s an addiction for sure!

  42. Isabel

    Is it possible that FM is actually a sugar allergy? Please comment. I guess my question is, has anyone stopped eating sugar completely, and no longer feels that they have FM symptoms at all? For the FM sufferers, sure you know about peanut butter allergies and how dangerous they can be. If someone told you a sugar allergy was causing your pain, would you stop eating sugar? How much do you want to be pain free?

  43. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Wow, a loaded question. Sugar is notably bad for anyone yet every day we are faced with our addiction to it. So sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer but it stands to reason that anyone of us would benefit if we could get control of this tendency to turn for sugar for comfort. I am the worlds worse sugar addict! Fibromyalgia is a central sensitization issue, cause by past trauma to the central nervous system. Sugar is probably an added irritant. We’d all be better off without it! 🙁

  44. Jen

    I have been diagnosed with Fibro and when I stopped eating sugar and flour, almost all my symptoms went away. Can’t say why or how but I really don’t care. I have also suffered with anxiety and depression for 40+ years but since I stopped eating sugar and flour, I have not had one single day of clinical depression. Unfortunately, living pain free is not always a deterrent to eating sugar. The addiction is strong.

  45. Barbara Wrrn

    I have suffered with fibro for 10 years. 4 years ago I decided to go sugar free to see if it helped. The week after I stopped sugar was pure Hell. Worst fibro pain I have ever felt, Worse than childbirth. But the following week was better, and after 2 weeks I started to feel better than I had in years, I remained off of sugar for over 3 years. Then slowly I started going back to my okd habits. The fibro attacks became morw frequent and more severe. 3 days ago I finally went cold turkey again, i am once again in total agony. The pain is awful. I cannot sleep, drive, work, lie down or sit, If it follows the same pattern as last time I have 3 or 4 more days of this before it starts getting better. I am hurting so badly I want to die. Only the hope that it wil get better in a few days keeps me going.

  46. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Barbara: Have courage, your addiction will soon subside again. I am impressed with your commitment to a life that is primarily sugar-free, or at least having only the natural sugars you find in good food. Sugar is so addictive and terrible for us and I am among those addicted to it. I love it in worst form as candy. I could eat dozens of pieces of fudge, licorice and chocolate (and not the dark kind)! It is so comforting at the time and feels awful afterwards. One trick is to ask myself why I want it at that moment. Usually it is for emotional anxiety or stress that I am feeling right then. Trying to stop myself for moment of mindfulness reflection is challenging and needs to be practiced often throughout the day.
    You have my utmost respect for your brave efforts.

  47. Gail Clevenger

    Having been in the worst fibro episode ever for the past several days, it dawned on me last night while lying in bed that the cause must be my increased sugar consumption between Thanksgiving and Christmas–almost all social and family interactions involve food. When I googled the effect of excessive sugar consumption on increased fibro pain I was blown away by all the information available, including this blog. My doctor has never mentioned the sugar/fibro connection. Am definitely going to try to eliminate much of my daily sugar consumption. Pain was so intense this episode I considered going to the hospital emergency room and begging for some relief.

  48. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Oh Gail. I have eaten so much sugar this past season! Dreadful stuff for everyone but especially for we who suffer from fibro!
    Happy new year, free from pain!

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