Diet the Right Way: The Do’s and Don’ts of Anti-Inflammatory Diets

May 02, 2024

How to Follow an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Did you know that inflammation is how our body reacts to certain threats (like an infection) or heals parts of our body (like muscles)?

You might not notice inflammation in your day-to-day life, but chronic inflammation has been linked to some pretty serious lifestyle conditions. Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure are just a few.

Did you also know that certain foods can trigger your immune system and create additional inflammation?

You may have heard about the newest trend “anti-inflammatory diets.” While most diets focus on losing weight, this approach focuses on decreasing inflammation.

By choosing more foods that are known to reduce inflammation – and cutting down on the ones that do the opposite – you can reduce your risk of getting sick.

But before you start your anti-inflammatory diet, make sure you know the do’s and don’ts:

DO Load Up on Whole, Unprocessed Foods

If you take one thing away from this blog post, it should be this: Whole, unprocessed foods are the hallmark of the anti-inflammatory diet.

These are foods like:

  • Fresh fruits and veggies
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fish
  • Whole grains (like brown rice, unhulled barley and whole wheat bread)

Since these are the foods you want to include as part of this diet, that means there are some not-so-great ones to avoid.

*cue the collective sigh*

Anything highly processed – think bagged chips, soda, white bread, candy and other refined sugars – all typically make inflammation worse, so enjoy those in moderation.

DON’T Limit Yourself to Foods You Don’t Like

Anti-inflammatory diets aren’t just salads and smoothies (though they are certainly part of it!). If you’re willing to try something new, you’ll find there are lots of foods that not only help reduce inflammation, but actually get you excited for your next meal.

Mediterranean, Indian and East Asian foods all fit nicely into the anti-inflammatory diet. Consider trying an ethnic food market or restaurant to expand your palate and discover a food you didn’t even know existed.

DO Put Your Kids Onto a New Diet Gradually

Kids are picky eaters, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to make them grumpy and upset if you try to force healthy foods on them.

Instead of getting them to make a big change overnight, try introducing one or two new foods alongside their regular meals. If tonight’s mac-and-cheese, put some carrots or broccoli on the side.

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to kids and nutrition.

DON’T Assume Anti-Inflammatory Diets Are a Quick Fix

Anti-inflammatory diets can be super beneficial, but don’t expect any whopping health benefits your first time eating a plate full of greens.

Like other lifestyle changes, anti-inflammatory diets work best when done alongside other healthy habits, like proper hydration, regular exercise and stress management.

DO Spice It Up!

Lots of people think diets are just too boring to take seriously. But as it turns out, your anti-inflammatory diet is about as exciting as you’re willing to make it.

Adding herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic and cinnamon to your foods is one of the easiest ways to give your meals a little extra zing.

You might even get adventurous and try a cool new spice blend to really up your dieting game.

DON’T Just Exclude Certain Foods

Sometimes we get a little too eager when trying a new diet and could end up missing out on essential vitamins, like iron, vitamin D, and calcium.

Instead of thinking of certain foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – and doing everything you can to eliminate the ‘bads’ – try focusing instead on eating well-balanced meals with as many of your daily vitamin and nutrient needs as you can.

And remember: Indulging in a guilty pleasure now and again – even one that doesn’t fit into your diet – never hurt anyone.

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