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Living with M.E.

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Diet and nutrition

Diet and nutrition

The effort required to buy food and prepare nutritious meals can mean that people with M.E. find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet.

It can be made harder by loss of appetite or food intolerance (see below).

But eating balanced and healthy meals is important during your illness, to provide you with the energy and nourishment you need for better health.

Although it’s better to obtain all your vitamins and minerals through your diet, intolerance towards some foods may mean that supplements are advisable.

Maintaining a good intake of fluids is important too, as well as reducing your consumption of stimulants such as caffeine and depressants like alcohol.

Some people choose organic foods to maximise available goodness and reduce the possible effects of pesticides.

If you are experiencing significant problems with your diet and struggling to maintain an adequate food intake, discuss the possibility of a referral to a dietician with your GP or hospital specialist.

Our 2014 M.E. time to deliver survey report found that:

  • 62% of respondents used a vitamin/mineral supplement – of these, 66% said it was helpful or very helpful (33% said it made no difference, and 1% said it made them a bit or much worse).
  • 51% had made dietary changes to help them manage their symptoms – of these, 72% said it was helpful or very helpful (27% said it made no difference, and 1% said it made them a bit or much worse).

Food intolerance

The most common tolerance problems are found with higher fibre diets (cereals, brown bread etc), wheat or dairy products and can result in an irritable bowel and other symptoms.

It may be worth trying to avoid these foods, one at a time, for a few weeks each, to see if that makes a difference. Seek the advice of your GP or specialist and/or a dietician before excluding or eliminating any foods.

Be careful not to cut out everything you like. For example, you may still be able to enjoy some rich foods and alcohol in moderation. Even if your diet is limited, you can make food more interesting by trying out new ingredients and recipes or improving the presentation of your meals.