Fibromyalgia, the unknown disease

Sheryl Sollars - Welcome To My Kitchen

In the past, I have talked about easy recipes but many of them contain high fat ingredients. In contrast many of the new “healthy” diets require extensive shopping for ingredients that you may not stock in your pantry.

The last year has been eye-opening for me as I was diagnosed as a Type II diabetic. This means working on my diet especially cutting down on my sugar and carbs. This is a difficult change in my life. I know that many of you are on various carb cutting and/or low fat diets and if they work for you, great. Personally, I have gone this round before and eliminating carbs from my diet is not always an easy choice.

After much study, and per my physician’s advice, reducing “large” amounts of carbs could have a strong effect on my health. To compensate, I am eliminating as many bad carbs and working with the good carb menu. I have to admit, I am not a spokesperson for proper eating.

Not only do I have to balance my diet for diabetes, I suffer from fibromyalgia (also known as FM), and making drastic changes in my diet causes my body to “flare up”. (For all of you FM readers out there, you know what I mean.) For those of you who don’t, let me explain. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that a large number of (mostly) females suffer from that leaves us with painful muscles, unexplained changes in the fibrous tissue of our bodies, insomnia, and causes extreme fatigue. Have you have ever worked out so much that the next day you are so sore and feel like you are drained of energy, that’s how fibromyalgia patients feel each day.

To date, unfortunately, there is no known explanation for this body disorder which also means there is no cure. We are left with just learning how to best control the symptoms (which vary from person to person), and do everything possible to avoid a “flare up.” I personally find that anything I do that is a drastic change in my lifestyle causes flare-ups. This ranges from extreme changes in my diet or just being away from home, living with a different routine for my body.

The one thing that doctors do know is that fibromyalgia can control a person’s life and I am a survivor and have learned to do everything I can to take back control for myself. For many people, a sugar-free (not necessarily carb-free) diet works for them. This is so very difficult as with FM, your body craves extreme amounts of sugar (which also is what I love the most!).

I read anything I can find on this disease and personally feel that I am now in control of my disease as much as possible. I still have flare-ups but sometimes it is unavoidable. My physician has explained to me that by reducing large amounts of carbohydrates from my body can cause it to suffer enough “shock” to propel me into a “painful and stressful flare-up” which is just what I am trying to avoid. His suggestion is to “think before you eat”. Don’t make drastic changes, rather reduce small amounts at a time and only introduce one change to my body at a time.

Please note that I do not profess to be a physician or professional dietitian, but am only giving you suggestions that work for me and may help other fibromyalgia patients maintain a healthier diet.

For me, I just reduce the amount of food I eat, limit my high-fat meals to 2 or 3 times a week and avoid processed foods and snacks such as packaged cookies and pastries because of their high level of “unknown ingredients” such as sugar, MSG and other preservatives (which affects my whole system).

If I want sugar, I want it in the form of a “homemade” dessert or treat, not in a bag. By baking my own cookies, coffeecakes, etc., I can control the amount of sugar I get and add healthy products like nuts, oats and other whole grains.

By preparing foods that are somewhat sweet helps me feed my “sugar craving”. Foods such as fruit and jello salads, meats with a sweet chutney or salsa or my recipe for “Healthy Apple Crisp”. Yes, they still contain some sugar but it beats a piece of pie or cake laden with both fat and sugar. Eat smart but don’t rob your body of all its natural cravings!

FM is a body ailment that affects every patient differently and should be handled by each individual in a way that is best for them. The main thing is to eat as healthy as you can, avoid sugar, reduce your stress level and get plenty of sleep. FM patients live a vicious circle; you can’t sleep because you have FM and without proper sleep, your FM only gets worse.

This apple crisp recipe is low in sugar and by using oil in place of some of the butter makes it more “heart smart”. By using Old Fashioned Oats and walnuts you give the crunchy topping added fiber. I use dark brown sugar so that we can reduce the sugar amount but still have a strong molasses flavor. Lemon juice in the apples gives the crisp not only a tart taste but adds extra vitamin C to your diet.

And don’t forget the new information out there about the importance of cinnamon in our diet and how it helps reduce sugar levels for diabetics. No one will ever guess it is so healthy for them. You can substitute other types of fruit for the apples such as peaches, pears or berries.


6 cups thinly sliced apples (Granny Smith/Jonathan)

3 packets sugar substitute (Sweet and Low, etc.)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon lemon juice


¼ cup butter (softened)

¼ cup canola oil

½ cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoon flour

1 ½ cup Old Fashioned Oats (not instant or quick oats)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¾ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 11×13 glass baking dish with Pam. Combine apples, sugar substitute, spices and lemon juice in a bowl, and then pour into prepared dish. In bowl, mix all topping ingredients except nuts. Using hands, mix ingredients until it becomes crumbly. Add nuts and then crumble over top of apples. Bake for 45-55 minutes until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with light cool whip or low-carb ice cream or just right out of the pan!


1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup organic blue agave

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup plain or Honey Greek yogurt, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium-large)

2 teaspoons orange zest

3/4 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

Whisk the oil, agave, egg, yogurt, and vanilla together in a medium bowl until combined. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until combined. Avoid over mixing. Fold in the zucchini, orange zest, and walnuts.

Spread batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the bread is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.

Remove the bread from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving. Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for up to 5 days.

MUFFINS: prepare batter as instructed. Grease a 12-count muffin pan or use liners. Fill with batter all the way to the top. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F then, keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for an additional 13-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving. Makes about 10-12 muffins.

Until next time, Sheryl

Sheryl Sollars, a Clinton County native, is an accomplished cook and homemaker. She contributes her column “Welcome to My Kitchen” out of her love of homemaking and of sharing her thoughts with her readers. If you have cooking questions or a recipe you want to share, please contact Sheryl at .

Sheryl Sollars

Welcome To My Kitchen