For a few weeks now, I have been on this new diet: it’s an anti-inflammatory diet. The basic idea behind the diet is to alleviate foods that cause inflammation in the body, and eat a lot of foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. I became interested in the idea because a month or so ago I started to get some mild knee pain, and though it causes me no problems, it did remind me that joint problems and arthritis run in my family, and as a dancer, I want to look after my body now, so I can dance well into the future.
Also, in July next year I turn 30, so I’m interested in instituting some good health habits over the next 9 months, to get me off to a good start into my thirties. In January I started Pilates. I’ve been stretching a lot more this year, and just recently I discovered Swasthya Yoga, which I’m keen to pursue more of. So with all the dancing, my exercise habits are under control. I’m stronger, fitter and more flexible than I have ever been, and I’m working on being more so. But my sleep schedule and my diet have been pretty random these past 5 years, since I’ve been travelling non-stop without a real home base. My 2012 mission is to have a stable home (I’ll be officially moving to London at the end of January and basing out of there indefinitely) and to be able to have some routine in my life.
So I did a lot of reading online, bought a few eBooks, did some fact-checking and devised my own version of an anti-inflammatory and “generally-good-for-you” eating plan. The theoretical benefits are reduced joint pain and inflammation, prevention of heart disease and cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, balanced blood sugar levels, improved mood, and it’s should be good for your skin, hair and nails.
Yes, I looked at the Dr Nicholas Perricone 28-day Challenge, Dr Barry Sears’ The Zone diet, and Dr Andrew Weil’s anti inflammatory diet. But those diets are surrounded by a lot of marketing hype, so I had to dig through a lot of silliness to get to the common-sense. There’s still a lot of things in this inflammation theory that are not conclusively proven, and some studies contradict others. So I’ve done the best that I can. The basic ideas I have arrived at, are:
Here’s my basic list (not comprehensive, just a general guide for shopping and dining out). In green are the main components of my diet at the moment, while I’m living in Buenos Aires and not everything is available to buy:
Spinach and other dark leafy vegetables
Herbs & Spices:
Red wine (1 glass per day maximum)
Berries, particularly blueberries
Seeds & Nuts:
For cooking: cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
For baking: coconut oil
For Salads: nut/seed oils, avocado oil, macadamia oil
*Don’t overheat oils, it transforms them into trans fats
Here are some of the meals I have cooked for myself so far:
And here is my list of things to try to avoid:
nightshade family: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant
citrus fruits (though I have been having lemon on my fish)
juice (too much sugar without the fibre, eat the fruit instead)
I know this diet isn’t for everyone. A lot of people wouldn’t want to give up red meat and chicken, bread and pasta, coffee and tea, sugars and alcohol. And you really need to love fish. I do and I’ve been very happy eating salmon and sardines for 1-2 meals a day: Juan is horrified by this idea! Some people might feel like the diet is too fatty (although it’s all omega-3 rich “good fats”), but anyway, I’m not sure that this is the best diet for weight loss. You also need to be prepared to shop and cook for yourself, so if you’re not into that, or you don’t have much time, it might be difficult. I’m also not sure if it’s the cheapest diet to be on. Some of the main ingredients I have been buying are expensive, like the salmon, nuts, berries and Chia seeds. But on the other hand, a lot of it is really cheap (most fruits and vegetables, beans, oats, rice, yoghurt, green tea, sardines). So actually, maybe it balances out. Perhaps I’ll figure it out and write a blog post about that later.
So I’m not being 100% strict about this diet of mine – I want it to be a positive thing, not something I stress about. So if I’m eating out with friends, I’ll just try to choose the best option on the menu, and not worry too much about it. And I love a lot of the things on my banned list (like a good steak, mashed potatoes, icecream, peanut butter, cocktails, and here in Argentina some of my favourites: cafe con leche y medialunas, dulce de leche, or empanadas, yum!) that I’m certainly not planning on banning from my life forever. I’ve just created a kind of guideline for myself, that I’ll stick to as much as possible and as much as it makes me feel happy, healthy and good about myself.
Well anyway, that’s the plan. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes! Let me know if you have any suggestions or recipes for me!
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