Let’s talk about diet. I don’t mean dieting. I mean the food you consume. That’s what the word diet truly means. It’s what you eat (not a single behavior for a short amount of time).
It’s important to keep in mind with lupus, or any other inflammatory disease, it’s an inflammatory disease. We want to eat foods to help prevent further inflammation, or reduce current inflammation.
Tip 1: Food is the best source for any nutrient going into your body and it be used most effectively from a food source.
Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are naturally anti-inflammatory. Here are a few: Fruits: Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, grapes, cherries. Vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, beets, red peppers, onions, corn eggplant, tomatoes.
Foods rich in omega-3, like fish, nuts, flaxseed, canola and olive oil fight against inflammation. Bone health is also important with inflammatory disease. Getting enough vitamin D, calcium and magnesium are important. These three nutrients work together to promote bone density and strength. These are found in dairy products, as well as dark leafy greens. But watch out here.. see tip 2.
Tip 2: Avoid foods that aggravate inflammation.
Sugars – consuming excess processed sugars can cause your body to trigger an inflammatory response. When reading a label look for ingredients ending in “ose.” That is the sugar in the product.
Saturated Fats, Trans Fat – as mentioned above, full fat items, including those with higher cholesterol levels can aggravate inflammatory responses in the body. The percentage of saturated fats are labeled on all foods. Try to only consume low fat, or skim products.
Trans fat is a man-made fat produced to create a longer shelf life for products and produce the flavor of naturally occurring fat. A lot of products today boast they are trans fat free after recent education about the dangers of trans fat in our diets. But some products still contain trans fat, and it’s important to read the label to know for sure. Most packaged foods with long shelf lives have trans fats.
Omega 6 – now you might be confused wasn’t I just talking omega above? Yes but 3 is your friend, 6 is your enemy. Too much of omega 6 and you may trigger an immune response, which we don’t want with inflammatory disease. Omega 6 food to avoid includes corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed, soy, peanut and vegetable oils. Some mayonnaise and salad dressings as well (due to the oils they contain when mixed).
Tip 3: Be aware of what causes heart disease
Having lupus or inflammatory conditions increases your risk for heart disease. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are signs of heart disease. As arteries slowly fill with fat, blood pressure increases to push the blood through the smaller arteries. Cholesterol stays in the bloodstream passing through the heart and can be measured at higher levels because it’s not being filtered out or used. Saturated fats and cholesterol work together to stick to the arteries when eaten in excess.
Eating low-fat foods, low cholesterol foods, and higher omega-3 helps avoid this situation. Maintaining a healthy weight also helps with less heart strain.
Tip 4: Make a healthy change
There’s no need to throw out everything in your pantry if you read this and realize what you have been eating might not be helping. Take it one step at a time.
Start with your refrigerator. Get some fresh fruits, veggies and dairy to make a change.
Example: For breakfast try a cup of nonfat greek yogurt, with some granola, and fresh blackberries on top. For a snack try fresh vegetables with some light sour cream as a snack (and some spices to make it a ranch-style treat). Try some half fat ice cream as a treat, and stop using canned goods to cook dinner with. Cut fresh and cook fresh.
Move to your pantry. What’s in there? Are there chips? Boxes of cereal? Cookies or more? You could throw them out, or look at them as an occasional treat, versus a daily habit. The only items you need in your pantry are baking ingredients, spices, maybe some granola bars, and canned items that are safer to eat (like beans) than to make from scratch. Salad dressing ingredients, oils, and vinegar are staples in there.
Tip 5: Plan your meals
If you have a meal plan it will not only help with your grocery budget (slim that down too!), but it will help you stick to a healthy food plan, instead of relying on that bag of chips laying in your pantry.
Just because you are eating real foods, and healthy ones, doesn’t mean dinner has to be difficult to prepare. There are tons of fresh food meal plans out there that can be prepared in 30 minutes, or you can create your own. Gather 60-100 recipes keep them in a binder and use those as a base. Look for recipes with the ingredients fitting the criteria we have established here as anti-inflammatory.
Keep your inflammation low, eat well! Good luck and let me know how the new plan works!