FAQs About My Anti-Inflammation Diet

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Back in April, I told you about some severe pain I was experiencing in my finger. Although I didn’t have a formal diagnosis, I surmised it was early arthritis pain.  I decided to go on a strict anti-inflammation diet to see if I could ease my pain through diet.  The strict anti-inflammation diet lasted 8 weeks, so I’m well overdue to give you an update! Here are some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions I’ve gotten through comments and emails.

How’s your finger doing?

This is the question I’ve gotten the most. :) I’m happy to report it’s doing great! The last update I gave you I told you that the pain was almost gone and my range of motion was mostly back.  My finger is now 100% better.  No pain.  No stiffness.  It’s incredible!

Are you still on the anti-inflammation diet?  

This one is more complicated.  While I am not following the strict anti-inflammation diet I did in the spring, many of the habits I created during that time have stuck.  That period was like a sugar detox for me and I crave sugar much less now.  During the diet I cut out all sugar and stuck to it pretty closely.  That included all added sugar, so I didn’t even add honey to my salad dressings or marinades.  I have since started allowing sweeteners in my condiments, but still am not eating as many “sweet treats” like cookies or whatever.  Even the healthified kind. ;-) While I am back to eating wheat, that is much reduced as well.  I’m probably eating wheat/gluten a few times a week now, whereas before I was eating it every day. During the diet I got in the habit of adding fresh ginger to my smoothies and I still do, almost every time I have a smoothie.  So while I am not officially on the “strict” anti-inflammation diet, I definitely have a stronger anti-inflammatory element to what I eat than I did before.

Why did you reduce your oil use during the diet?  

During my research of the anti-inflammation diet, I found mixed opinions on oils and their use.  Some of the sources I read suggested that oils should be used in strict moderation when trying to reduce inflammation. The reasoning was that because they are a processed fat they can cause inflammation.  Some think the best fats are unprocessed fats and those should make up the bulk of the fat in our diets (like the fats from avocados, seeds, and nuts, for example).

Another issue is the ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids in our bodies.  Consuming too many oils can cause the ratio to be off.  The ideal ratio is 1:1, but most people consume a ratio around 15:1 which is an inflammation nightmare. (source)  Because I wasn’t sure what to believe, I just reduced my overall use of all oils to be on the safe side. I was also cognizant of what temperature I cooked when I did use oils I also read a lot of research about overheating fats and its negative effect on our bodies.

I’m back to using oils a lot more again.  I found cooking without oils to be really tough as fat equals flavor! It’s something I hope to continue to explore, but at this time I’m still keeping healthier oils like olive oil and coconut oil in my diet.

Can you share some of the resources you used for anti-inflammation recipes and information?

This book was a great guide for me and I used it a lot.

It is filled with information and recipes.  I also referenced Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammation food pyramid, which I found helpful.  There were countless online articles I read as well, but I didn’t save them.

As for recipes, I used a lot of my own recipes.  Some needed a few tweaks and some were fine as-is.  I also used the recipes from Clean Cuisine and searched for new recipes via my usual blog reading and Pinterest perusing.

Now I am at a wait-and-see to determine if the pain is going to stay away.  Perhaps I picked up enough anti-inflammation dietary habits that I will be able to keep chronic inflammation in my body at bay and stay pain-free.  Please let me know if you have any more questions and I’ll answer them in the comments!

 

 

 

Anti-inflammation Diet Update and Meal Plan Sample

A little over a month ago, I told you about some pretty serious finger pain I was experiencing. If you missed that post, you can find it here.  While I don’t have a formal diagnosis, all signs point toward arthritis.  My right ring finger was very stiff and sore in the mornings, for a prolonged period, and I experienced pain throughout the day that was limiting my everyday activities.  Anything that required a grip was hard for me to accomplish.

I decided before seeking professional help from a doctor, I wanted to reduce inflammation in my body and see if that helped ease the pain.  Chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases, and I knew I wanted to try a natural, dietary approach to fight what may be causing my finger pain.

The first two weeks on the anti-inflammation diet, I was very strict, and the results were amazing.  After just one week I felt an incredible difference.  The stiffness and pain I was feeling in the morning only lasted a minute or two and the pain during the day was greatly reduced.  By the end of the second week, I could barely feel any pain during the day.  My range of motion was back 100%.  Before I started the diet, I couldn’t bend my finger to the palm of my hand, and that movement came back totally, and without pain.

The next two weeks I wasn’t quite as strict with the diet.  A combination of social events, a hectic schedule, and the diminished pain all contributed to this.  It’s hard to be as motivated when you aren’t in as much pain.  I think this is why I didn’t see much improvement the second two weeks.  The finger is still good, but not 100% better yet.  Even though it’s only for a minute or two, it’s still stiff and painful in the morning and I’d like to see that go away completely.  And although I don’t feel actual pain during the day, I can tell which finger it is.  There’s a slight stiffness and swelling that is still there.  I think if I stay the course and not have so many lax days, I will see more improvement.

My plan is to continue my original 8 week commitment and if the finger isn’t 100% better, I’ll see a doctor.  If it is 100% better, I’ll slowly start adding some foods back in to see how my body handles them and which might be causing the most inflammation for me. I need to find out if certain foods (like wheat or sugar) can be eaten in moderation without the pain coming back.

Now, let’s take a look at a weekly meal plan to get an idea of what I’ve been eating.

As you can see, the meal plan incorporates a lot of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, with more fish than I’d normally eat. I’ve also cut back on dairy and meat and cut out wheat and sugar. I will give you another update at the end of the 8 weeks–I’m hoping at that point I’ll be able to say my finger is totally healed.

 

No Sugar Added Vegan Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Sugar is a dangerous thing. It has addictive qualities similar to cocaine.  Cocaine!  Some people may think its biggest danger is rotting our teeth, but the perils of sugar go way beyond the cavities it may create.

Have you seen the trailer for Fed Up, the newest food-industry documentary from Katie Couric and Laurie David?  Check it out if you have a minute.  If not, I get it.  Just scroll down to the chocolate.  I can’t blame you for that.

Fed Up is opening in my area this Friday and I’m trying to figure out how I can get there.  Tim doesn’t exactly share my zeal for food documentaries and convincing friends that it’s a good way to spend a mom’s night out might be tough.  I think it’s a movie everyone needs to see, though, as it focuses on how sugar has come to dominate our culture and what the repercussions are for our generation and the next.

Speaking of sugar, it’s been one month since I cut it out from my diet.  At first it was really hard.  Then, it got easier.  The less sugar you have, the less you crave it.  And the other way is true, too.  The more sugar you eat, whether it is natural sugars found in honey or maple syrup or the processed white stuff, the more you crave it.  Like cocaine.

So the good news is that after the initial period of wanting it everyday, it got a lot easier to just not eat sugary foods. There is one small thing that I still crave though.  Okay, it’s not a small thing. It’s a big, important thing.

Chocolate.

I needed to create something that would let me have some chocolate without adding sugar.  Not an easy task.  I turned to my old friends, dates.  Thank you, dates, for being nature’s candy and helping me get my chocolate fix.

I created a rich, lovely vegan chocolate fudge sauce that has no added sugar whatsoever.  It’s dreamy.

I made this two ways.  First I used full-fat coconut milk.  I figured if I was relying only on the sugar from the dates, I’d want the flavor from the fat.  The results were fantastic.  Decadent.  Then, I tried it with unsweetened almond milk. I thought it would be much worse as almond milk is almost like water, but it was still really good.  The almond milk makes it less caloric, so if you are looking for a lighter version, go for that one. Really, I think you could use whatever milk you have hanging out in your fridge right now.  I know you are going to want to make this amazing, healthy chocolate fudge sauce right away, so don’t worry about waiting until your next trip to the grocery store.

The last thing I experimented with was adding a little stevia.  The dates lend a lightly sweet flavor to the chocolate sauce, not a super sweet flavor of traditional hot fudge sauce.  The stevia sweetens it up a bit more.  I loved it with just dates, but if you are looking for a slightly sweeter hot fudge sauce that is still healthy, try a little stevia.  I list it as optional in the recipe as I liked it both ways.

I served my hot fudge sauce as a super healthy hot fudge sundae.  It’s made with banana ice cream, which I’m sure you’ve all tried by now, right?  If not, you just have to freeze some bananas, and then process them in your food processor (not sure if a blender works as I always use my food processor for this).  That’s it!  Top your banana ice cream with some of this healthy hot fudge sauce and you have yourself a hot fudge sundae that’s only about 200 calories and 100% real food with no added sugar.

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Shoe For Busy Moms: Reebok Skyscape Review and Giveaway

Have you ever sacrificed style for comfort?  It seems like the older women get, the more likely they are to do this. When it comes to shoes, if you’re a busy, on-the-go woman, you definitely need comfort. There’s no doubt there. But somehow it’s been engrained in our minds that you can only have one or the other: comfort or style. Or maybe that’s just how shoes have typically been made.

 But hold on to your hats:  there’s a new shoe in town that totally lets you look good while keeping your feet happy. When Reebok sent me their newest shoe, the Skyscape for on-the-go women like me, I was a little skeptical.  Usually, if a shoe is cute, it doesn’t cut it for me as an all-day shoe. I’m on my feet a lot and they get sore easily. I have bunions so it’s hard for me to find a shoe that doesn’t rub my feet the wrong way. The Reebok Skyscape shoe is the whole package of cute and comfortable.

First of all, they are so lightweight. These shoes are only 5 ounces!  Their tagline, so light and comfortable, it feels like you don’t have them on, could not be more accurate. It feels like you are walking around in your socks. They are seamless, so there’s absolutely no rubbing. Yet they have enough support that they’ll keep your feet feeling great all day. I don’t take making the claim of all-day comfort lightly. There aren’t many shoes that I can wear all day and still feel comfortable by the end of the day.  These totally passed the test!  They are made borrowing the same material and soft molding process as lingerie, so the whole shoe is flexible and just molds to your feet. They feel amazing. So the comfort aspect is definitely there.  

But guess what? They look good, too!  I am not one to normally think tennis shoes (or sneakers depending on where you live) look good with street clothes. Usually if you’re pairing tennis shoes with your street clothes, I’m thinking comfort has won the war over style. But these are so lightweight and not bulky that they look great with street clothes or more casual workout clothes. I’ve worn them all around town, and they’ve worked with several different looks. One day, I wore them to library story time with Luke (in my workout clothes), straight to the gym (where I changed into my gym shoes), then to the grocery store. I’ve worn them to pick up Meghan from school, brought her to her dance class, to get my hair done, playing outside with the kids, all in street clothes. These are casual shoes that can work with a variety of outfits.

Reebok sent me the black shoes with pink soles, which come with both pink and black laces. I’ve been wearing them with the fun pink laces, but I can see myself wearing the black laces for a more subtle look, too. They come in a variety of colors and I’m not going to lie, I kind of want the pink pair (how fun!) and the neutral gray pair that would go with everything.  Having three pairs is totally acceptable, right?

Do you want to get your hands on these awesome shoes? Of course you do! You can purchase them online here or check here to find a Reebok FitHub or outlet location near you. Even better, wouldn’t you like to WIN a pair?!  Reebok is going to give one Happy Healthy Mama reader a YourReebok Custom Card with which you can create your own pair of Skyscapes!  All you need to do to enter is leave a comment telling me where you would wear your Skyscapes. A winner will randomly be chosen from the comments. Good luck!  

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

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  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 4/21/2014-5/18/2014.

Be sure to visit the Reebok Skyscape brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Arizona Dreamin’

It was mid-January, and we were in the midst of the coldest, snowiest winter I’d experienced since moving away from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan 18 years ago. The frigid temperatures and sunless days were taking their toll.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  We need to get away.  Even if it’s just for a long weekend.  We just need to go someplace warm.

Tim:  We can’t.  Not this year.

The reality of his statement settles in and I’m quiet for a minute. 

Me:  Miles!  Do we have enough for plane tickets?  We could stay with friends in Arizona.

Tim:  We have enough for one ticket.

I’m quiet again.

Tim:  You can go.

Me: No, I can’t go alone.

Tim:  Yes, you can.  Do it.  Go.

Let me tell you, Tim most definitely gets the award for Husband of the Year.  I’m on my flight on the way back from a long weekend in Phoenix, by myself, and it was the most fantastic trip.

The year after I graduated college, I convinced one of my best friends to move to Arizona with me.  We packed up everything we owned and drove across the country, ready for new adventures and more sunshine.

It was in Arizona that I met Tim and eventually had Meghan. When it was time for us to move, I left behind seven years of memories and a group of amazing girlfriends–the kind of friends you will be forever friends with.

So yes, this trip was about the sunshine and escaping the gray, cold Ohio days.  But I also got to reconnect with my girls and even meet some of their babies for the first time.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story of my weekend.  I’m refreshed and more ready for spring than ever!  Forget that snow’s in the forecast this week. I’m pretending that isn’t happening and looking forward to warmer, sunnier days.  Stay tuned for new recipes coming soon!