At a recent seminar on anti-inflammatory eating, I took the opportunity to ask audience members what they thought anti-inflammatory eating was. A variety of responses included "onions", "garlic", "turmeric", and "no carb." For the most part, these answers were spot on (except for no carb).
Simply stated, anti-inflammatory eating is primarily plant-based eating, although it doesn't have to be vegetarian. Anti-inflammatory eating includes lots of whole foods with very little processed foods. Plant foods are anti-inflammatory by nature. They contain phytochemicals to promote health and prevent chronic and sometimes fatal illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Plant foods also provide fiber and antioxidant vitamins and minerals.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
Non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens and other brightly colored vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots.
Whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa.
Beans and lentils.
Ground flax meal.
Fresh and dried herbs and spices.
Wild caught fish.
Anti-inflammatory eating starts with your plate. Making plant-based foods the center of your plate and use animal based foods as sides or for seasoning. In fact, recent research suggests that the greater number of plant foods we expose ourselves to daily increases our health exponentially. You don't have to be a culinary genius to start incorporating more plants into your daily eating habits.
You may want to start by focusing on one change at a time. For example, start with one swap-like processed grains for whole grains. This could be your morning cereal or your evening pasta. Now add some color-two or three different colors if you can. Fruit can be added to cereal and non-starchy vegetables can be added to grains. Non starchy vegetables may also be the main attraction-dress them with some lean protein and a little plant based fat for more flavor. When it comes to snacks, swap out chips for nuts, fruits, or popcorn (a whole grain). Over time, these small swaps make big differences in how you look and feel!
Interested in learning all of the details plus guidance on how to follow a whole food anti-inflammatory eating plan? Check out these anti-inflammatory resources!