Recently I was out with a friend and ordered a very simple meal consisting of poached mackerel with a double order of steamed vegetables. She seemed fairly appalled by my order and asked me why I was eating that way when it was such a gorgeous Saturday; we were out and about and I could eat ANYTHING I wanted. I told her I was eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Her reaction was such that I could have told her I was exclusively eating moon-cheese! Shock and dismay! I realize that not everyone has the same wealth of nutrition knowledge as me. I figured it would be helpful to break apart the broad concept of an “anti-inflammatory diet” into simple, manageable steps.
An anti-inflammatory diet…
- Consists of foods that reduce the inflammatory response.
- Replaces sugary and processed food with whole-food, nutrient-dense options.
- Contains increased amounts of antioxidants.
- Is helpful for a variety of conditions that occur when there is an excess of inflammation (the list is huge).
- Is made up of a healthy balance of proteins, fats and carbs.
- Has no restriction on the amount you eat (this is not a calorie counting diet!) but it’s important to try to vary the foods each day.
How to start an anti-inflammatory diet:
- Cut out foods that are obviously inflammatory: processed foods, sugary beverages, alcohol and refined carbs (bye bye, Wonderbread).
- Remove foods you are allergic to from your diet. Unable to identify them? This is an excellent time to work with an ND to get further testing to identify allergens and sensitivities.
- Consume antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables – the more colourful the better!
- Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish (deep sea only, please no farmed fish), olive oil, flax, canola and walnuts. You may also increase omega supplementation if working with a healthcare practitioner.
- Cook with colourful spices and herbs like turmeric, ginger, basil and saffron. These have a variety of phytochemicals which contain natural anti-inflammatory properties.
- Aim to get 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
- Consider whole food snacks options like celery sticks, carrots, peaches, rice-crackers, homemade power balls or chia seed puddings, yoghurt (if tolerated), smoothies or trail mix.
- Steam vegetables for improved digestion.
- Incorporate bone broth or vegetable broth to help calm an inflamed gut.
- Eat 2 cups of grains that you tolerate per day (examples include basmati rice, amaranth, quinoa or oatmeal). You can include things like rye if you do not have a gluten sensitivity.
- Drink 2-4 cups of herbal teas throughout the day.
- Drink 8 cups of filtered water as a minimum.
- Remember to avoid your own personal sensitivities! Just because something is touted as good, doesn’t mean you should indulge in it! For instance, if you have a sensitivity to oxalates such as those found in spinach, spinach would not be considered anti-inflammatory for you. By continuing to consume something that you have a sensitivity to, you will create MORE inflammation! Remember, every response is individual, so you need to respect and meet your precious body where it is.
Still feeling confused? Now would be an excellent time to book in with me or one of the other supremely talented Naturopathic Doctors here at Naturmend. Your initial appointment with me includes a one-week meal plan that can be catered to your unique needs. Together we can wade through the nutrition madness!
Have you ever tried eating in an anti-inflammatory way? What did you notice? I’d love to hear your experiences! Comment below.
As your Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant at Naturmend, I am committed to creating healthy communities. I believe in honouring the unique biochemical individuality of each person who walks through my door and in the amazing benefits of a whole food diet. A healthy body and balanced mind are the cornerstones of a happy existence.