Tips For Grocery Shopping With Fibromyalgia & CFS/ME

Misty Roberts, Owner/Patient of FM/CFS/ME RESOURCES

For healthy people, getting groceries is no big deal. But for people like us, with Fibromyalgia (FM) and CFS/ME, getting groceries can be as challenging as climbing Mount Everest!

Not only does it take an incredible amount of energy, but you also need to be alert and focused on the task at hand. Add to the mix a couple of small children running around, the bright lights, crowds of people, and someone screaming over the loud speaker and you’ve got all the makings of a king sized flare and a migraine as well!

The following tips are meant to help make your grocery shopping experience more pleasant and easier on your already hurting body.

Grocery List

I keep a list for the grocery store going all the time. When I’m running low on an item or or when I use up an item I jot it down on my list. This gives me a heads up on what needs replacing or what I might be low on before I leave the house.

When writing my list I make sure to itemize what I need in the order the store isles are set up. Example being: produce and deli items first, coffee and canned foods next, followed by meat, cheese, laundry items and then eggs and milk at the back of the store. By making my list out in this order it saves having to back track …wasting what precious energy we possess.

Plan Your Time Wisely

Shopping is not only time consuming but it’s also a drain our our energy. That’s why it’s important to schedule your shopping trip to coincide with the time of day when your energy is at its highest.

You also want to plan your trip around the busiest time of the day for grocery stores. Evenings from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm are always jammed with people stopping after work, as are most weekend mornings. I find that shopping from 8:00 am – 10:00 am is the best time for my area. Most people are at work and I have store relatively to myself. This helps me to avoid fights over parking spots outside and screaming kids and noisy crowds inside.


We all want to be able to park right by the front door but those spots are rarely open. If you can’t find a spot up front, try parking near the cart returns. This will save you unnecessary steps later when your energy levels will be at their lowest. Also, if leaning on a cart helps you, grab one on your way in the store.

If walking is difficult for you, ask your doctor about getting a handicapped parking permit. Most states have the forms right on their web sites. Print off the form and have your doctor fill it out for you. Handicapped permits aren’t just for people in wheelchairs!

Avoid Unknown Stores

By sticking to stores you already know, you avoid any unnecessary stress and wear and tear on your sore muscles. If you must shop at a new store, ask for a map. Many stores have a little map located on the shopping cart. Take a moment to glance over your map, preferably sitting down with a cup of coffee.

Grocery Carts & Wheelchairs

How many times have you gone into a store only to find half way through that the cart you’re trying to push is out of alignment…or is missing a part? If you’re like me, this has happened one too many times. Be sure to check your cart out thoroughly before taking it too far. You’ll thank yourself later!

If you’re thinking of just grabbing a small basket instead of a cart, think again. It only takes one or two heavy items to make your arms and shoulders cry out in pain. Plus by pushing a cart it gives you something to shift your weight on if you get tired.

Another idea for grocery shopping is to use a motorized cart. Even if you aren’t in a wheelchair normally, taking advantage of this option can save you pain and agony later. If you decide not to use a motorized cart, be sure to take breaks. Many grocery stores now have a luncheon area where you can sit down and have coffee and a snack. This will give you a chance to rest until you get your strength back.

**Take your own grocery cart to wheel your groceries home, cuz the stores don’t like you to take the carts all the way home :)**

At the Check-Out

Find a line that looks like it’s moving quickly. The less time you have to wait in line the better. Sometimes if you explain to the clerk that you aren’t feeling well they might allow you to use one of the express lanes…even if you are a little over the limit.

Card readers can be confusing to everyone, so don’t get flustered if you have some trouble. Ask the clerk for help and ignore the people grumbling behind you. Perfectly healthy people have trouble every day!

Bag It

If you use recyclable bags, ask the checker or bagger not to load them too full. Remember, you’re the one who has to drag them into the house, not them! Also, if your store doesn’t have someone to take your bags out, ask for help. It’s their job to keep the customers happy, so don’t feel bad about asking for help.

Remember, if you’re too tired when you get home to put away your groceries, just put away the perishables. (meats and refrigerated items) You can always and leave the rest of the items until you’ve regained your strength. Unless you have a great husband or kids, trust me, they’ll still be there!


One Response to “Tips For Grocery Shopping With Fibromyalgia & CFS/ME”

  1. pkwynn24 Says:

    I’m a grocery clerk and I very much agree with your shopping tips. We do have a problem with people coming into the express lane with more than the accountable items but if they person tells us they’re not feeling well we accommodate them. Thanks for bringing that up!

    “Stories of grocery clerks”

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