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Anti-Inflammatory Nutrition for Chronic Pain

Content warning: ARFID and body neutral nutrition


My chronic pain has been worse than usual lately, which means I’ve been internally battling myself because there I things I know will help because they’ve helped before but… as all know, especially if you have pda, that’s so much easier said than done.


Not coincidental in relation to this, my ARFID has also been pretty bad recently, which has made eating in general difficult… like I literally don’t want to chew, but I’m tired and achy and I can’t “fix” the fact that I’m hypermobile and all the fun things that come with it, but there are things I can do to at least try to take the edge off. Ugh, whatever, science.

 

I need to do a post explaining the training I’ve had as a health coach because I know the term has a negative connotation, but much of what we do is help to manage various chronic diseases/illnesses through daily life activities like nutrition, movement, and stress management aka nervous system regulation. My approach, however, is going to be different than a health coach who is not trauma-informed because I have an intimate understanding of executive functioning issues, and the things that make “basic daily habits” really difficult for us. I know that things like “positive reinforcement” and “motivation” “mindful” aren’t the same for us. I have an intimate understanding of how we tick and what matters to us, and more importantly, the type of advice that is extremely harmful.


*hops off mini soapbox*

 

Anyway, with all of that said, I’m just trying to focus on adding nutrient-dense foods that have anti-inflammatory properties. Not gimmicky things – just naturally occurring in moderation. One of the easiest ways for me to do this right now is cliche, I know, but smoothies or juices.


The three things I focus on to naturally help with inflammation are antioxidants, phytochemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants and phytochemicals help clear out free radicals and repair damaged tissue. They’re also a vital part of reducing oxidative stress, which is the buildup of free radicals in our system that wreak havoc on us from a cellular level and can result in chronic inflammation. Similarly, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help with tissue repair.


Since phytochemical really just means “from plants,” there is a ton of overlap with antioxidants; here’s a list of 3,100 foods with antioxidants. Arguably the most difficult are omega-3 fatty acids because I know many of us aren’t a fan of the texture of seafood, which is one of the primary sources. I tend to stick with flax, chia, and hemp seeds, but here’s a list to help give you some ideas.


This is like one of those blogs where I make you read my life story before giving you the recipe. Oops.


ANYWAY. I used to drink smoothies all the time and then got so sick of them, but I’ve had a long enough break so that’s the one thing I’m trying to incorporate more often to hit on all of these anti-inflammatory things at once.


I keep it as simple as I can - the less ingredients, the better. My foundational foursome is frozen berries, banana, kale or spinach, and flaxseed. The berries, banana, and greens knock off both antioxidants and phytochemicals, and the flaxseed has omega-3. And I get all of this from Aldi, so keeping costs as low as possible. My recent hyper-fixation is frozen pineapple, so I’ve been adding some of that which is a nice vitamin C boost and more antioxidants. This is perfect as is if you like more of a juice; I’ve also been adding greek yogurt for some protein - also from Aldi.


And because nuance matters, do not intentionally overdo it on antioxidants. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, but our body needs to maintain a certain balance between antioxidants and free radicals, so another case of too much not being a good thing. It’s hard to consume unsafe levels of antioxidants by food sources alone but can happen if adding in supplements.


As always, this is not about shame and fed is best. There were literally months I couldn’t bring myself to make a smoothie and so when I imply this doesn’t necessarily require a lot of executive functioning, it still requires some. And it requires equipment, etc. Store bought pressed juices are great too, but also not inexpensive, which is yet another example of how things that seem “simple” for others can be so complicated for us. And expensive or inaccessible.


As always, we just do what we can with what we have when we can.


Let me know if you’d like to see more posts like this.


Stay regulated,

Shauna

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