Food is a necessity of life, but what many people don’t realize is how certain foods can trigger inflammation. Many foods have chemicals that release neurotransmitters making your body more sensitive to inflammation and cell damage. Sensitivity due to Fibromyalgia, IBS, arthritis, and many more chronic pain inducing conditions can be heightened by eating these foods.
The number one culprit is-you guessed it- junk food. Limiting these empty calorie foods will help control weight if pain is attributed to weight gain. Junk food can also irritate muscles, affect sleep, and compromise your immune system. Sugar, including aspartame and all artificial sweeteners, are also a culprit for negative effects on the body. The increased amount of insulin in your body will result in more pain. Avoiding fruit juices and other high sugar beverages is an easy way to cut out unnecessary sugar from your diet. Unprocessed grains, particularly ones with wheat and gluten, are metabolized in the same way as sugar. Click here for my podcast on foods that fight pain.
Next in the line-up are fats. There are good fats and bad fats. Foods that contain trans-fat such as fried foods or foods high in saturated fat should be removed from your diet. Taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements or eating omega-3 rich foods such as fresh fish and walnuts will improve brain function and decrease inflammation.
High volumes of pasteurized dairy and simple carbohydrates have also been known to trigger pain signaling mechanisms in fibromyalgia patients since they have trouble digesting them. However, organic products have been known to have no effect. Specifically for fibromyalgia, caffeine inhibits sleep and lack of sleep causes fatigue both of which lead to pain. Caffeine causes an imbalance of brain chemicals and artificially eliminates the feeling of fatigue, so you feel like you don’t have to sleep. This is detrimental to a pain free life as since sleep is one of the most important ways you can take care of yourself. Your body heals and restores itself while you sleep. There is no substitute for what comes naturally and the same goes for food.
So what is your solution to avoid pain this holiday season? Your best bet is to go with fresh foods. Fresh foods are good for you whether or not you suffer from pain. They will help boost your metabolism, help with weight loss, and improve your overall health. Leafy greens, fresh fish, walnuts (Omega-3), avocado, berries, ginger, flaxseed (Omega-3), and basically anything that comes from a natural source is a safe bet.
We are conditioned to believe the holidays are meant for overeating unhealthy foods. This is simply not true. Everything needs to be in moderation. Be conscious of portion sizes. A good rule of thumb for any meal is to try and fill your plate with 80% vegetables. Prepare healthy snacks to have on hand so healthy choices on between meals will be an option during the holiday season. Remember that food is fuel for your body, so eat well and enjoy a heathy and pain free holiday.