If you’re battling with chronic pain or any kind of inflammatory issue, exercising regularly and eating an anti-inflammatory diet could help reduce the inflammation in your body. What we eat can either speed up or slow down the inflammatory processes throughout our bodies. That’s why I try to keep an anti-inflammatory diet regimen throughout the week – which can be tricky when you’re cooking for others, including a picky husband, a toddler and a 10-month-old!
Don’t forget to download the Anti-inflammatory “Eat This Not That” List – you can post it on your fridge or use it for meal planning to help you get started with your inflammation-fighting meals.
I’ve spent a lot of time searching Pinterest for anti-inflammatory foods that I could consistently eat AND feed my family at the same time. It was tough to find! Most of the recipes I found were inaccessible, difficult to make on a regular basis or just wouldn’t appease my picky eaters. However, over the past several months I’ve accrued a collection of some of my favorite anti-inflammatory recipes and wanted to share them with you!
The point of an anti-inflammatory regimen is to cut out inflammation-causing foods and incorporate as many inflammation-fighting foods as possible. These foods are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols – which are protective compounds found in plants.
- Nuts & seeds
- Orange fruits & vegetables (e.g.: carrots, oranges, peppers, sweet potatoes)
- Beans, lentils and peas
- Kale/Spinach/Leafy greens
- Olive oil
- Salmon/fatty fishes
- Tea & coffee
- Herbs & spices such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano
- Probiotics and probiotics (such as kombucha, kimchi, and some yogurts)
- Processed foods
- Foods with added sugar or salt
- Unhealthful oils
- Processed carbs, which are present in white bread, white pasta, and many baked goods
- Processed snack foods, such as chips and crackers
- Pre-made desserts, such as cookies, candy, and ice cream
- Excess alcohol
- In addition, people may find it beneficial to limit their intake of gluten, nightshades and carbohydrates.
- Source: Anti-Inflammatory Diet by Medical News Today
Some tips for eating a consistent anti-inflammatory diet:
Find foods you love. Don’t force yourself to eat meals you hate – it won’t last long! Figure out which inflammation fighting foods are your favorites and find meals that incorporate those ingredients.
Use meals you already know how to make. You can also take meals you already make and brainstorm ways to make them inflammation-fighting: search for healthy substitutes for the inflammatory elements of your meal and try to incorporate one or two inflammation-fighting foods.
Have a cheat day. Saturdays are my cheat days. It helps me mentally to be able to say: “I can have that on Saturday” instead of, “I can’t eat that.” The key here is to make sure it stays one day, and doesn’t turn into an entire cheat week!
Pay attention to your body. It helps to keep a food diary, especially at first. Are there foods that your body seems to react to more than others? For example, when I first started my anti-inflammatory regimen, I noticed that I was getting headaches after each time I ate something soy-based. So I cut out soy and stopped getting headaches! Even if the food is “healthy,” if your body doesn’t react well to it, it’s not good for you.
Some of my favorite anti-inflammatory breakfast meals:
- Steel cut oats with berries & sliced almonds. This is my go-to breakfast. I’ll make a huge batch of steel cut oats on Sunday night to last through the week. Usually I have fresh berries to put on top, but I always keep a bag of frozen blueberries on hand to use when I run out. I also get one of those huge bags of sliced almonds from Costco to throw on top. And, of course, I’ll drizzle in some honey. It’s an insanely healthy, filling, delicious breakfast that takes only a few minutes to put together in the morning. Here’s four more ways to do steel cut oats: Overnight Oats Four Ways
- Anti-inflammatory smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to sneak in some of the inflammation-fighting foods that you don’t love by combining them with ones you do! They’re also great for an on-the-go breakfast and for pickier kiddos. Here’s 11 other anti-inflammatory smoothie recipes: Smoothie Recipes for Inflammation
- Healthy Pancakes. I could eat pancakes all day, every day. For a healthier pancake, I like to mix oats, bananas, eggs, chia/flax seeds, cinnamon and vanilla – I’ll pop them on a sheet pan and put them in the oven for 15 minutes and I’ve got breakfast for everyone for a few days! This is a Banana Oatmeal Pancake recipe I like and here’s an anti-inflammatory Turmeric Spice pancake recipe to try: Turmeric Spice Pancakes
- Greek yogurt & berry parfaits with chia seeds & sliced almonds. Make sure you search for a yogurt that doesn’t have a ton of added sugar. Your safest option is to buy plain Greek yogurt and then add honey to taste. I love to pack mine with fresh berries, chia or flax seeds and sliced almonds. This can also make a great snack and the kids love it! Here’s some make-ahead parfait ideas.
- Avocado toast with egg. We all like eggs, so this is a go-to breakfast for us. I’ll sprinkle on a dash of cayenne pepper for mine, whereas Finn loves his with a garlic sriracha seasoning. Here’s a recipe for that along with two other yummy breakfast options: Anti-inflammatory Breakfast Options
Inflammation-Fighting Lunch Options:
- Peppers, carrots, celery & hummus. This is one of my go-to lunches for me and the kids. I’ll cut up a bunch of peppers and carrots (I’m allergic to celery – but if you like celery, go for it!!) and serve it with hummus or tzaziki dip. It’s healthy, filling and fun. Here’s a great anti-inflammatory carrot hummus recipe: Carrot Hummus Recipe
- Avocado tuna salad on whole grain crackers. My hubby hates fish so I try to get my fish-fix in during lunch when he’s not home! I like to serve this with a dash of cayenne pepper on top for me, which is an extra inflammation fighting booster. Avocado Tuna Salad
- Loaded Sweet potato. This is another easy one for the week: I’ll pop several sweet potatoes into the oven and store them in the fridge for easy, healthy lunches throughout the week. Usually I’ll just top ours with some cinnamon, coconut oil and a dash of salt but there’s lots of fun and healthy ways to load up your sweet potato. Here’s 10 different ways to load your sweet potato: Loaded Sweet Potatoes
- Spinach salad with chicken, pineapple, blueberries, and avocado. I love salads for lunch, but I don’t expect my kiddos to eat them! So usually I try to incorporate the toppings of the salad into a meal for them. For this salad I’ll make them a sandwich with the chicken and avocado then give them some of the blueberries and pineapple – it’s a win-win! Grilled Chicken Salad with Pineapple and Avocado
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup: I love to make this recipe ahead of time and eat it throughout the week. I substitute coconut milk for the cream and add in about a teaspoon of turmeric for that extra inflammation fighting boost. For the kiddos, I’ll usually serve this over rice or quinoa. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- Quinoa, beet, pear salad. I LOVE this salad! 𝗜𝗻𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀: chopped kale, cooked and cooled quinoa, chopped pears, cranberries, chopped walnuts, chopped beets, crumbled goat cheese. 𝗗𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴: 2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, squeeze of lemon. Instructions: chop kale and massage with olive oil and lemon juice until all of the kale is coated. Mix dressing together. Combine the rest of the ingredients with the kale and pour dressing on top, mixing until everything is coated. This salad stores surprisingly well for 3 days in a covered dish in the fridge because the kale soaks up all the dressing and the flavor only gets better!
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#lunch_time I am obsessed with this kale, beet & quinoa salad!! Because of my chronic pain, I try to eat as many inflammation-fighting foods as possible – and this salad makes it sooo easy. * 𝗜𝗻𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀: kale quinoa pears cranberries chopped walnuts beets goat cheese 𝗗𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴: lemon juice honey apple cider vinegar olive oil #yummm #foodlove #food #foodoftheday #kale #beets #mombloggersofig #mommyblogger #mommydiaries #healthyeating #healthyfood #antiinflammatorydiet #antiinflammatoryfoods #healthy #health #healthyeating #yourbodyisatemple #gottabalanceoutthechocolate #quinoa #chronicpain #joyfulmama #full
Anti-Inflammatory Dinners for the Whole Family:
- Simple Stir fry. This is my husband’s favorite weekday meal. I usually stir fry chicken and vegetables (my go-to: broccoli, snap peas, bell peppers, onions with fresh grated ginger and pressed garlic) with this simple stir fry sauce: 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use this soy sauce alternative or coconut aminos), 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp spicy honey (you can use regular honey, we just like a little extra kick), 1 tbsp cornstarch to thicken (you can omit this, it will just be more watery/runny). Add ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake until thickened! That’s it. I also like to add some pineapple tidbits or mango to sweeten the whole deal.
- Veggie bake with quinoa. This is a go-to meal for us, we have it at least once a week in our house. We basically throw all kinds of veggies onto a large baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil and some of our favorite seasonings and cook on 425 for 25-30 minutes (we like ours extra crispy). I’ll usually throw some chicken sausage in there and serve over quinoa, rice or pasta. Here’s a yummy and simple recipe: Easy Oven Roasted Vegetables
- Baked turkey meatballs. These meatballs are a staple item in our household. The wonderful thing about them is that you cook carrot into the meatballs- and no one’s the wiser. I use these for spaghetti and meatballs or you could make meatball sandwiches. I’ll use GF pasta or spaghetti squash. Baked Turkey Meatballs
- GF chicken tenders with broccoli & sun-dried tomatoes. Aside from being gluten-free and delicious, this best thing about this meal is that you can make it all on one pan. One pan = less clean up for me. Woohoo! One Pan GF Chicken Tenders with Broccoli & Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Creamy Thai butternut squash curry. This meal is to die for. I serve it whenever I have vegetarian guests over – but you can also make it with chicken for the meat eaters! You can substitute sweet potatoes and carrots for the butternut squash – or just use all three if you want. You can find the recipe here: Creamy Thai Butternut Squash Curry. I like to pair this with this Spicy Honey Chicken and rice. Even the kids love this dish.
- Chicken cauliflower rice taco bowl. This is another staple dish for us and it saves well for leftovers and/or freezer meals. I usually use fresh salsa instead of enchilada sauce for this and you can easily substitute quinoa (or rice) for the cauliflower rice. Chicken Cauliflower Rice Bowl
Anti-inflammatory Snacks & Dessert:
- Spicy Kale chips
- GF oat quinoa energy bites
- Homemade trail mix
- Green tea with lemon and honey
- Hot chocolate made with coconut milk and real cocoa
- Dark chocolate covered strawberries
- Fruit: grapes, oranges, cherries, mango, pineapple
- Fresh salsa or guacamole and tortilla chips
- Turmeric Oat Flour Bread with Chocolate Chips
- Honey Baked apple with cinnamon
I hope this is helpful for you, mamas! If you’re battling with chronic pain, feel free to reach out to me for encouragement. You are not alone! God has a plan for you – even if it doesn’t quite fit within the plans you want.
Here are some other articles I’ve written on chronic pain: