Why Has Your Doctor Recommended an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
If your doctor recommended an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s for good reason. We all have heard the saying “You are what you eat.” But have you really thought of how each piece of food you consume can truly affect your body, mind, and overall health?
There has been a lot of publicity how anti-inflammatory foods can change your body from the inside out. This diet involves eating nutrient-rich, whole foods validated by research to reduce overall inflammation in the body.
Nutritionists and medical professionals agree that we need to consume more of these foods for their anti-inflammatory properties and health benefits.
But First: What Exactly is Inflammation?
Before we can discuss how to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s helpful to know the basics about what we are targeting or trying to prevent in the first place.
Inflammation is the cornerstone of the body’s healing response. It is the immune response to an area of the body that is under attack or injured. In other words, inflammation is your body’s way of trying to protect itself.
For example, if you fall and scrape your knee, you can see inflammation presenting on the outside of the body in the form of redness, heat, swelling, and pain. This is how your body is attempting to protect and nourish a vulnerable area until it has healed. In this example, the concept of inflammation is easy to understand.
When inflammation occurs inside the body, however, it is typically in response to a foreign element being introduced that your immune system wants to get rid of. If this inflammation persists, the sense of purpose is to cause disease. Many major diseases that plague us including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and depression have all been linked to inflammation.
Although changing what you eat is not a magic cure for chronic illness, an anti-inflammatory diet may lessen the number and severity of ailments that you experience. It can also help delay or prevent serious chronic inflammation issues. A dietary change is an upgrade to make, which is easier with the right planning and preparation. The motivation is to feel as well as you possibly can and continue to do things you love doing!
Starting an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
There is no right or wrong way to begin an anti-inflammatory diet. At its most basic, this diet regimen is based on consuming meals with foods known to fight inflammation (such as healthy fats, fruits, and veggies) and cutting out foods shown to contribute to inflammation (mainly refined, processed and manufactured foods).
“One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but rather from the grocery store,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Here are examples of foods that fall under the anti-inflammatory category:
- Leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach
- Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
- Nuts such as almonds and walnuts
- Healthy fats such as fish
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
- Spices such as turmeric and ginger
If your own doctor recommended an anti-inflammatory diet, a good place to start is to add these foods which will reduce inflammation in the body.
Alternatively, here are examples of inflammatory foods which tend to worsen inflammation within the body:
- Fried foods such as fries and onion rings
- Sodas and other sweetened beverages such as pops and juices
- Processed meats such as hot dogs and chicken nuggets
- Fast food such as takeout burgers and fries
- Artificial colours and sweeteners
Though they may be delicious at times and in moderation, we recommend that you limit or remove these foods from your diet if you are looking to decrease inflammation.
Tips and Tricks to Keep Up with Your New Anti-Inflammatory Diet
1- Set Realistic Goals
Creating a new lifestyle and diet can be challenging, especially when you have an existing routine that you are used to in everyday life. Start by slowly making changes with your diet towards an anti-inflammatory profile so it is more of a lifestyle shift rather than a dreaded “diet” (which we all know is neither sustainable nor enjoyable).
When starting a new dietary approach, you cannot expect yourself to never indulge in an unhealthy snack ever again. You may slip up from time to time, and that’s ok! What is important is to understand that we are all human, and sometimes we need a good chocolate chip cookie now and again! Do your best to stick to your new goals, move slowly and don’t give up or feel guilty if you sometimes eat foods that are not good for keeping the inflammation at bay.
2- Don’t Buy Unhealthy (Just Keep it Out of the House!)
Have you ever gone into a room at work or during social gatherings where there is a box of donuts staring at you straight in the eye? It is much harder to avoid eating treats when they are readily available to you (such as at the office or home) compared to if you had to leave your house and get it. If you can use your willpower at the grocery store to avoid purchasing unhealthy foods, you won’t be tempted to eat those foods later on.
3- Understand That Weight Isn’t Everything
Try not to pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly after starting a new diet. Small changes are good because they are more likely to stay as is rather than big strides with “yo-yo” effects. In addition, being thin and weighing less does not represent the level of health your body is experiencing.
Try to focus on how your body is feeling. Research has found that individuals that have realistic weight loss goals when starting a diet tend to be more successful compared to those that have greater weight loss expectations.
4- Meal Preparation
When you plan your meals ahead of time, it considers four things: your time, budget, personal goals and the required ingredients. Especially when you start, it is easier to make a list of items, ingredients and meals you would like to have and make to “stick with it”. If you do not have the right ingredients, you will be tempted to order or take out or go to restaurants to save time. You cannot control foods you don’t prepare. You can also consider preparing your meals in advance, so you only have to warm up or dress up the meal.
Meal prepping is budget friendly as you can buy your ingredients in bulk and only what you need to prepare your planned meals for the week. It may also encourage you to eat at home more often than out, saving you even more money in the long run.
Finally, meal prep allows you the time to consider your personal goals, such as eating an anti-inflammatory diet, and find recipes that coincide with those goals.
For more inspiration, check out the following recipes that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients to motivate you to try out an anti-inflammatory diet for yourself!
This recipe is from Eatingwell.com.
This recipe is from Eatingwell.com.
For the full recipe, visit: https://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/277650/sweet-potato-kale-chicken-salad-with-peanut-dressing/
This recipe is from PinchofYum.com.
For the full recipe, visit: https://pinchofyum.com/green-curry