You have decided to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle to conquer your systemic inflammation that has led to your fatigue, digestive problems, and concerns with chronic diseases that run in your family. Where do you start? It is a bit overwhelming, however, the benefits are significant improvements in your health and wellbeing. An anti-inflammatory diet can come in different forms as the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, the Mind diet, or the Vegetarian diet. Foods that are high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, antioxidants, phytochemicals, nutrients, and fiber. All have scientific evidence backing the results of improvement in health indicators.
Get excited about a positive change and maintain that attitude towards the challenge. Start with small steps, a breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Expand to a day, then a week. It takes planning initially.
Check out your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Stock with anti-inflammatory foods you enjoy.
Possibilities for starter foods:
Canned, packaged, or jarred:
Broth or stock
Beans (black, red, pinto, white – your favorites)
Tomato paste, sauce
Nuts in single-serving packages
Whole wheat or gluten-free pastas
Farro, Bulgur (whole grains that you haven’t tried before).
Whole-grain breads and cereals
Yogurt or Kefir
Milk or Nut milk
Label! Or make a list.
Frozen fruits and vegetables
Flax seeds, Chia seeds, Sesame seeds
Save an hour on Sunday say at 3:00, or whatever day and time works best for you. You want to produce a week’s worth of menus and a grocery list. Turn on the music or listen to a podcast. Check your calendar. What is going on this week? After school activities, after-work meetings, any company, celebrations? Next, check out your refrigerator to see what needs to be eaten. Fruits and vegetables that will go bad? Low on milk? Throw out what has deteriorated or has mold growing on it.
Think in terms of protein, sides of starch, vegetable, and fruit for dinner. Lunch can be leftovers, a wrap, soup or a sandwich. Breakfast may be a standard on-the-go or fix it yourself. Think about ways to batch cook and freeze for later. Or repurpose foods. If you are having salmon tonight, cook extra to become a salad, wrap, or spaghetti topping. You can decide that Monday is a chicken dish, Tuesday a fish dish, Wednesday Taco night. You can categorize starches like rice, potato, noodles, and so forth.
There are many resources available. Not only Google but meal planning apps. Mealime is popular with time-crunched cooks. Paprika and PlateJoy are especially good for weight loss. You can sync Meal Prep Pro with fitness devices and Apple Watch. Some of these have free programs, others have a monthly fee. They can provide recipes, use equipment such as InstantPot, and make a grocery list. Involve your children who are computer savvy.
Pre-prep can also be orchestrated. I believe in child labor. Give them a specific task. They may grumble, but they want to be involved. Oatmeal, rice, potatoes can be cooked in advance and used later. I cook a batch of oatmeal so that it provides breakfast for the week. Different toppings of fruit, nuts, yogurt, make it interesting. Rice can be frozen or used in different ways. Same with potatoes and noodles. Simplify like Semper Fi. You can find chopped onions, peppers, in the freezer section or chop a lot and freeze for later. You can cook a large amount of ground, beef, or turkey, and freeze some for spaghetti, some for soup, some for tacos. Grilling chicken? Grill twice as much and freeze for repurposing.
Enjoy and relish your meals. Slow down. Put your fork down. Shut down the cell phones. Talk about pleasant things at mealtime. Bon Appetite!
A bit much to start out with? Check out the blog Anti-Inflammatory Diet One – Day Meal Plan, or learn how we can work together to help you address your chronic inflammation.