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Getting Started: The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Updated: Dec 20, 2019


What is an anti-inflammatory diet? An anti-inflammatory diet emulates the diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors – and there are many names for the same style of eating, (Paleo, GAPS, Wahl's Protocol, AIP, Keto and Traditional Foods to name a few). Sourcing of food, especially protein foods, is emphasized in this way of eating. Products from animals raised on pasture provide a more desirable nutrient profile than those from conventionally raised animals, and organically grown produce helps minimize pesticide exposure.

Many who follow this eating pattern choose to refer to it as a lifestyle instead of a diet. Beneath the surface, there are many variations of what constitutes an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. You may notice that the different diets under the anti-inflammatory umbrella recommend adding/omitting different foods. Tailoring your diet to your needs works on an individual basis.

Some core concepts of Anti-Inflammatory include:

  • Including produce, (mainly vegetables) both cooked and raw, at every meal

  • Protein from high quality sources (think pasture-raised, and organic)

  • Nourishing, traditional fats

  • Wholesome, unrefined foods

  • Elimination or reduction of grains, beans, and refined sweeteners

  • Organic

Know What to Eat:

  • Organic vegetables and fruits

  • Grass-fed meats, wild fish, pastured eggs and chicken

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Traditional fats

  • Virgin coconut oil, butter or ghee (clarified butter)

  • Fat from grass-fed beef, buffalo or lamb, pastured poultry and pastured pigs.

  • Extra virgin olive oil for dressings and sauces

  • Avocados

  • Natural, unrefined sweeteners

  • Pureed dates

  • Maple syrup

  • Raw honey (avoid honey for kids under age one)

  • Unsweetened applesauce

What About Dairy?

It is my opinion that if you tolerate dairy, keeping butter (from grass-fed animals) in your diet can be beneficial because it is a great source of healthy fats and vitamin K2, a form of the vitamin that activates vitamin D and is essential for a variety of functions in the body.

Dairy in the form of milk and ice cream may be difficult for some to digest due to the lactose and/or casein content. Ghee (clarified butter), is an optimal cooking fat and is usually included in the diet. Ghee contains very minimal lactose and casein.

Know What to Avoid:

Grains and legumes

Processed convenience foods

Processed sugars, artificial sweeteners

Most dairy products

Processed seed and vegetable oils – canola, soybean, corn, safflower

Grains and legumes are often avoided on an anti-inflammatory diet because they contain phytates and other anti-nutrients that make them difficult to digest. These compounds bind to minerals, preventing the body from absorbing them properly.

Prepare Your Pantry:

Transitioning to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle may require and thorough cleaning of your fridge and pantry, followed by restocking with essentials. To be ready for almost any anti-inflammatory recipe, keep the following items on hand:

Non starchy vegetables: leafy greens, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini, onions

Starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes, winter squash, plantain

Pasture butter or ghee

Raw apple cider vinegar

All things coconut: oil, milk, cream, flour, aminos, and butter

Nuts and seeds

Almond flour

Coconut flour

Chia seeds

Bone broth

Learn the Ropes - Some Basics For Embracing an Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle

  • Prioritize blood sugar-balancing foods - think vegetables, protein, and healthy fat

  • Choose eggs, a veggie omelet or breakfast meat, and even additional sides of vegetables for breakfast or brunch. These make great choices when breakfast is served all day as well!

  • Look for packages of nuts and seeds that are raw and sprouted. Avoid those roasted in seed oils and covered in sweeteners.

  • Order salads at restaurants, ask for additional protein (nuts, chicken, sliced steak) and request avocado slices or olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of other salad dressings.

  • Enjoy baked fish, chicken, or other meat with a side or two of steamed vegetables. Top veggies with butter or olive oil for a dose of nutrient-rich fat.

  • Ask for burgers or cuts of meat to be served in a lettuce wrap or atop salad greens instead of with a bun. Ask for a side of sliced avocado in place of mayonnaise.

Set Yourself up for Snacking Success

Ideally, the anti-inflammatory life-style nudges people in the direction of reduced snacking, since most meals are so nutrient-dense and satisfying that you are satiated for hours. Yet sometimes snacks are necessary in a pinch! To avoid a preventable trip to the vending machine, have delicious and nutritious to-go foods on hand.

Items that make good anti-inflammatory snacks include:

  • Olives

  • Cut or sliced fresh veggies (think cauliflower florets and jicama sticks)

  • Wide-flake unsweetened coconut

  • Whole avocados or fresh guacamole

  • Canned wild salmon or sardines

  • Sea vegetables such as nori

  • Hard boiled eggs

  • Pickled vegetables

  • Fresh seasonal fruit

  • Nuts and seeds (sprouted if possible!)

  • Plantain chips or sweet potato chips cooked in coconut or avocado oil

  • Dark chocolate (65% cacao content or higher)

  • Pistachios and macadamia nuts (or any nut of your choice)

Thanks for reading!

#HealthyEating #nutrition #paleo #antiinflammatory

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