Nutrition, Diet, and Food Sensitivities — The Ultimate Guide

Woman Doctor offering a Green Apple for CFSOne article is not enough for me to help you integrate all of the important aspects of nutrition for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia into your life, but it’s enough to give you an overview of what areas you may want to look into — now or at some point in the future. Also, I’ll share with the the best sources for in-depth information on those particular areas.

Below is a list of questions that you’ll want to know the answers to at some point in your recovery journey. I’ll use this lesson to answer them for you.

  1. What’s the ideal diet to support my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia?
  2. I have so little energy! How can I still make sure that I’m able to prepare and eat healthy food?
  3. How can I discover whether food allergies are contributing to my symptoms? How can I identify what foods are causing problems?
  4. What’s the deal with nutritional supplements? Should I buy them and, if yes, where?

Let’s cover answer these questions in the order listed.

What’s the ideal diet to support my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia?

A healthy diet for someone with CFS or FM is similar to that of a healthy person. There are a few extras you may want to consider, but before we do that, let me explain the guidelines for a healthy diet, in general.

According to Bruce Campbell’s article on “Nutrition and Chemical Sensitivities,” a healthy diet is “moderate in fat and includes a variety of foods from different food groups, focusing on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”

Let me give you a couple of mental images that will make this guideline more tangible and easier to remember:

  1. Include different colored foods in your diet. Different colored foods contain different vitamins, so by eating different colored foods, you ensure that your body gets all the vitamins it needs to develop its optimum healing powers. This is what Campbell means when he refers to eating a “variety of foods.”
  2. Click on the image to learn a ton about a healthy diet.

    A good mental image to remember Campbell’s advice to focus on “fruits, vegetables, and whole grains” is to think of a meal where 1/2 of your plate is covered by swiss chard, 1/4th by brown rice, and 1/4th by salmon. These three foods stand for the three food groups you should include in your diet. These three food groups are, first, vegetables and fruits, second, whole grains or other starchy foods, and, third, a source of protein, such as salmon, chicken or tofu.

I have so little energy!
How can I still prepare and eat healthy food?

There are two extra challenges many people with CFS and FM need to overcome in order to give their body the optimal fuel for healing:

  1. Lack of energy, lack of appetite, or severity of symptoms make it difficult to prepare healthy meals.
  2. Food sensitivities and allergies. People with CFS or FM are often sensitive to stimulants such as coffee and alcohol, but also to other foods. These food sensitivities can exacerbate CFS and FM symptoms. For some people, identifying these food sensitivities alone can lead to a full recovery. Read the next section to learn how to discover what foods you’re sensitive to.

Bruce Campbell does an excellent job with explaining and offering solutions to the two above challenges in his article, “Nutrition and Chemical Sensitivities.” Have a look at it by clicking the link; you’ll be glad you did.

How can I discover whether food allergies are contributing to my symptoms?
How can I identify what foods are causing problems?

One thing that I did not see in Campbell’s article on nutrition are some of the details you should know about discovering what foods are worsening your symptoms.

By far the most reliable way to discover what foods aggravate your symptoms is the elimination diet. It’s considered the most reliable way because there are more than twelve mechanisms in our body that can cause food sensitivities and allergies, and each allergy test, for example the IGG test or ALCAT test only tests for one of those mechanisms, which makes them unreliable. The elimination diet, on the other hand, helps you discover how a food affects your body regardless of what allergy mechanism is involved, which makes it highly accurate.

In an elimination diet you eat a very basic diet, such as rice, lamb, and broccoli, for a few days and then reintroduce common allergy provoking foods one-by-one, watching closely how each of these foods affects your symptoms.

There are excellent free guidelines for following an elimination diet on the internet, the best of which was created by fellow CFS sufferer and clinical nutritionist Blake Graham, B.Sc. (Honours). Access the guidelines here: Guidelines to elimination diet by Blake Graham, B.Sc. (Honours).

One thing to keep in mind with the elimination diet though: It is possible that you are sensitive even to one of the few foods that you eat during the beginning phase of the elimination diet, in which case the diet won’t work for you. In my case, for example, I had difficulty digesting cabbage and broccoli, two of the foods which are suggested for the beginning phase in the above elimination diet guidelines. If you suspect that this is the case for you, contact a nutritionist or ask Blake directly to adjust the elimination diet so that it diets work for you.

While the elimination diet is the most reliable way to identify the foods that worsen your symptoms, you might not be able to do it for a lack of time or energy. Before you give up on it, consider hiring a nutritionist to make following the diet easier and thus possible for you.

The next best option after the elimination diet is the ALCAT test. Linda Partida, nutritionist and CFS recoverer, is a big believer in this test. She says some people just don’t have the focus and time to do the elimination diet. So the ALCAT test, while it might not be as accurate as an elimination diet, can still help many people by giving them a good guess at what foods might be causing their problems, which can be a good place to start.

Should you take nutritional supplements?

Although nutritional supplements have the word “nutrition” in them, they don’t actually belong in the nutrition section of this course. The reason for this is that they are more of a treatment than just a supplement. If you use them, take them in the doses suggested by CFS and Fibromyalgia doctors or treatment books, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide or From Fatigued to Fantastic.

Eating a balanced, healthy diet is much better for you than taking a bunch of vitamins that are not targeted to treating a CFS or FM symptom (with the exception of one multi-vitamin and maybe some vitamin D, as recommended by the Harvard School of Public Health.)

One book I like for discovering how nutritional supplements can support your recovery from CFS or FM is Fatigued from Fantastic by Dr. Jacob Teitlebaum. It’s a great book, but I need to warn you that he, first, is overly optimistic about what his treatments can do for you, and, second, shamelessly advertises his clinics and the associated brands of supplements. His products are not bad, but a little overpriced. If you buy supplements with the same or similar active components from a different brand, you can often save fifty percent of the purchase price.

This leads us to another tip I want to share with you. Read the below section to learn how to save time and money when buying herbs and nutritional supplements.

Where to buy herbs and supplements and what brands to buy?

There is a huge variety of brands offering a huge number of different supplements. I hope the quick facts below will save you some time and money when you navigate your way through this maze.

  • The best two nutritional supplements stores that I’ve found in my research are online stores. You might be surprised at how much cheaper you can get your supplements online, as compared to your health food store, super market, or pharmacy.
    • is my favorite store for herbs and supplements because they offer competitive prices on their quality products and, equally important, low shipping rates. If you buy there, I recommend buying supplements from the Now Foods brand, as they are a reputable brand that usually offers their products at the best price. Feel free to use my affiliate link to get $10 off your first order!
    • ProHealth was founded by an entrepreneur who suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. He and his company are known to be active supporters of the CFS/ME community. ProHealth’s prices, however, aren’t nearly as competitive as those offered on Still, have a look here, if supporting the CFS community is worth paying a bit extra to you. Also support this free e-course by using my affiliate link :).
  • What brand of herbs and supplements should you buy? The best brand to buy is usually the home brand of the store that you are buying from (ProHealth’s home brand is called ProHealth). If the store you’re buying from doesn’t have a home brand, I recommend buying the Now Foods brand. I once studied the tests on Consumer Labs, which is just like Consumer Reports but for nutritional supplements, and it struck me that the home brands of the large vitamin stores as well as Now Foods never failed on those tests. Flaws were usually found in products from smaller manufacturers. Hence, I recommend that you stick with one of the home brands or Now Foods.

Actions you can take today

Are you already eating a healthy diet? Have you found a way to prepare healthy food for yourself despite your symptoms and low energy? If not, use this week to take action on the solutions discussed in the … section of this article.

Is your digestion not working right or do you suspect that you have food allergies and sensitivities? Then focus on trying the elimination diet.

Not sure whether you should take supplements and where to buy them? Then use this week to study the above section on nutritional supplements and herbs.

You won’t be able to tackle all three of these topics, which is totally fine. Just start with the issue that’s most pressing for you and set the other ones aside for later.

Good luck with taking your next steps toward better health and happiness.

What are your experiences with and questions about support groups? Share them by leaving a comment below this post!

Want to find out if the CFS Recovery Project approach can help you regain your health and happiness? Book a free 30-minute Health and Happiness Clarity phone session.

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  1. I found food was a big part of my recovery. I learned how to balance my blood sugar levels (and my energy and mood) from (that’s also where I learned the art of “baby stepping” :))

  2. Lonna Dicken says:

    Thanks for looking into studies at the Consumer Labs supplements. It took me a long time to learn that all the products were different and price didn’t necessarily mean good or bad product. I do like and have bought from them. Do you have an opinion on Swanson Vitamins. I like them for they are very fast shippers and excellent prices but I have not looked at consumer labs test on them.
    Thanks again for your website.

    • I hadn’t heard of Swanson Vitamins, but when I just compared their price for Now Foods Glutathione 500mg 60VCaps to iHerbs’ price, I saw that Swanson is $6 cheaper. Thanks for sharing the resource!

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