A good friend was just diagnosed with osteoarthritis, at 38! Her doctor blamed her many years of playing soccer and running, and basically being an active, normal person, and told her that’s just how it is.
I think that’s some bull, and 38 is way too young to have arthritis (and so is 65!). She agrees and she’s starting on an easy anti-inflammatory and elimination diet that cuts out the most common food triggers of arthritis.
If you have joint pain, and you know you’re too young to be feeling old, this plan could help you, too.
First, the plan:
Foods to Eat:
Fresh fruit, especially blueberries and cherries, which are high in antioxidants
Fresh veggies, especially leafy greens
Herbs and spices, especially ginger and turmeric
Meat and fish, especially wild, deep-sea fish
Nuts and seeds
Dried fruit, especially cherries
Dark chocolate (70%+)
Acceptable grains: rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, but not every day
Healthy fats: avocados, meat, fish, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
The Six Foods to Avoid:
Sugar, any added sugar at all, in all forms. Definitely no white sugar or corn syrup AT ALL. Read labels because sugar is in EVERYTHING, from bread to peanut butter to spaghetti sauce.
Dairy: milk, cheese, yogurt
Gluten: wheat, barley, rye, and oats
All nightshades: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes
Vegetable oils for cooking – canola, soybean, vegetable oil, etc.
Follow the plan for 6 weeks, then reintroduce foods one a day, and see if you notice any reaction. Eat a few bites of the food in the morning, and if you don’t react, have a normal serving later that day. If no reaction, you can keep moving along the list. If you have a reaction, note the food, wait a day, then go down the list again.
I generally like to go in this order:
- Gluten (wait 3-4 days before introducing anything else)
- Sugar (but honestly, sugar will make your joints hurt; it’s all about finding your tolerance)
Tips and Tricks for Success
- Eating this way can take some getting used to, but you can get the hang of it. Focus on what you can eat instead of what you can’t, and remember it’s a short-term experiment you’re doing for your health.
- Plan meals and snacks at least a few days in advance, so you have ideas on what to cook.
- Make a big batch of soup or salad to stash in the fridge so you always have something you can eat
- Keep snacks on you, in your bag or the car. Pack trail mix, dried fruit, natural beef jerky, veggie sticks with hummus, or bars without any added sugar or gluten.
- If you’re going out to eat, check out the menu in advance, and don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions.
- When searching the internet for recipes or meal ideas add “paleo” or “whole 30” onto your search term. These eating plans cut out dairy, sugar, and grains.
- If you slip up and eat something off the plan, don’t freak out! Brush it off, do not beat yourself up, and get back to it. You got this!
If you’re still not finding the culprit after doing this basic elimination diet, food sensitivity testing may help track down what’s inflaming your joints. If you’d like to tailor an elimination diet to your health needs, or if you’re interested in food sensitivity testing, schedule an appointment to talk with me.
Have you had success beating joint pain with food? Let me know in the comments!