Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Three Variables of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

by Laura Piazza, Recipes for Repair Cookbook Co-Author & Co-op Wellness Educator

When going on an anti-inflammatory diet, we choose to eat foods that can influence how we feel and progress with chronic illness and chronic symptoms. There are three variables to an anti-inflammatory diet, one of which can often be overlooked.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help in many ways because you fuel yourself with nourishing foods, many of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, you work to remove foods that are said to promote inflammation. These foods often have little to no nutritional value. There is a third variable though, one which many of us don’t know to look for – hidden food sensitivities.

If you have a food intolerance but don’t know it and continue to eat the offending food(s), you will just add to the inflammation that’s already present in your body. This can create or aggravate symptoms. It is especially important to learn of any food sensitivities if you are battling a chronic symptoms or chronic illness, because some of your symptoms and/or inflammation may be dietary. Remove the offending food, and symptoms can either be minimized or even disappear altogether!
Food sensitivities are not the same as food allergies, which are more immediate and can be severe or even deadly. A reaction to a food that you are sensitive to won’t be as severe and can happen hours to days after eating that particular food. The symptoms can vary greatly, which makes it even more of a challenge to determine if the food you ate an hour or a day ago is causing discomfort.

You can identify unknown food sensitivities by going on an elimination diet and keeping a food journal, or by asking your health care provider to perform specialized testing. Once your sensitivities are discovered, it’s essential that you take the appropriate steps to eliminate those foods from your diet in order to have the full benefit of an anti-inflammatory diet.

When you pay close attention to your body, you may find that the foods that cause you distress are common allergens like gluten, corn or dairy, or something more obscure. A few uncommon sensitivities that readers have shared with me are turnips, carrots, and cashews.

To some, the prospect of changing your diet or giving up certain foods feels overwhelming. But this doesn’t have to happen overnight. In breaking old habits and introducing new ingredients into your kitchen, new cooking habits and a healthier way of eating will result. A gradual change will feel less stressful and will allow you to slowly ease into a new way of eating.

One way to ease your fears is to try new recipes or products. If you believe you may be dairy intolerant, for instance, try some recipes or products that are dairy-free. You may be surprised to find that a recipe or product doesn’t taste much different when a dairy-free milk, like almond or rice milk, takes the place of milk.

To exemplify my point that eating allergen-free and/or anti-inflammatory meals can still be appetizing and delicious I have provided an easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast recipe (see below).

If you suspect food sensitivities and/or want to implement an anti-inflammatory diet into your life, you can view the physician-developed anti-inflammatory/elimination diet featured in our book on our web site, Here you can try over three dozen professionally-developed recipes, all of which were developed for the diet and are identified as gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and/or vegetarian.

Recipe ~ Carrot Almond Pancakes

These pancakes may look a little different than what you’re used to, but they taste sweet, nutty and very satisfying. Top them with a teaspoon of raw honey and some blueberries for a complete breakfast treat. Prepare and refrigerate the pancake batter the night before, so that you can make your breakfast in a few minutes.
Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian.
Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 12 minutes. Makes 4 pancakes.

1 cup peeled and grated carrots (2-3 carrots)
¼ cup almonds
1 slice fresh ginger (1/8-inch thick)
1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
1 teaspoon raw honey
Blueberries (optional)

1. Place the grated carrots in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Place the almonds, ginger and flaxseed in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5-6 times until the almonds are finely ground.
3. Add the almond mixture and all of the remaining ingredients, except for the ghee, honey and blueberries, to the grated carrots.
4. Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hot.
5. Pour two ¼-cup portions of pancake batter into the frying pan, and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining batter.
6. Top with honey and blueberries if desired, and serve hot.

Recipe & photographs reprinted from Recipes for Repair, with permission from the authors. To learn more about Laura and her award-winning anti-inflammatory cookbook, visit

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