“I’m Ashley Larsen, registered dietician with 10 years of experience in the nutrition and wellness field. I help individuals meet their health and weight goals by establishing healthy lifestyle changes. Many of my clients (and perhaps, you too) have poor diets due to stress, busyness and lack of motivation. But what you didn’t know is that a proper diet can be a remedy in itself for stress and inflammation diseases. An anti-inflammatory diet can reduce stress and increase energy for a more productive and vibrant life. Sounds like paradox? Well, let’s check it out!”
One teacher’s story
My client Elizabeth, a busy school teacher, was so tired of feeling tired all the time (people often struggle from paradoxes, don’t they?). She knew she had to change something about her diet but wasn’t exactly sure how to. She wanted to be able to enjoy more physical activities like biking or dancing but just didn’t have the energy. After reviewing her diet, it appeared that she didn’t eat regularly due to her busy schedule. Her diet included frequent vending machine trips and was low in fruits and vegetables. Elizabeth’s diet was producing weight gain and chronic inflammation. That’s when I found that anti-inflammatory diet would be the best for her.
Why inflammation can be dangerous
Most of us have experienced acute inflammation from a cut, infection or sprain. The symptoms are obvious, such as pain, swelling and redness. These go away after a few days or weeks once the injury is healed. Chronic inflammation is a different story. This occurs and then doesn’t go away, causing harm rather than healing. When your immune system is constantly turned on, it starts to attack otherwise healthy tissue and organs. It’s like your body is a punching bag for your immune system.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and autoimmune diseases. Symptoms of chronic inflammation are not quite as obvious. I’ve found that those people who struggle with chronic inflammation usually carry extra weight in the midsection, feel tired all the time and have digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea. Even without these symptoms, everyone can benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet to prevent disease. Good news is there are some simple ways to do this.
How to switch to an anti-inflammatory diet and enjoy a healthy lifestyle?
1. Mindful eating: One of my favorite ways to ensure I’m eating healthier is to pay attention. This helps me slow down, enjoy my food more and realize when I am getting full. I used to eat in front of the computer at work all the time and then look down to be shocked that all my food was gone! Food is meant to be savored and enjoyed, not scarfed down. By paying attention to your food, you can enjoy food more while eating less.
2. Anti-inflammatory foods: Like our friend Elizabeth, her diet was like most Americans which is high in saturated fats and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are essential for our energy, but too much can cause weight gain and blood sugar spikes which lead to chronic inflammation. I’ve found that the perfect mix for an anti-inflammatory diet is to focus on lots of veggies, lean protein, healthy fats and portion-controlled carbohydrates
3. Anti-inflammatory supplements: There are so many great natural products that can have huge effects on lowering our inflammation. I love a daily glass of green tea for sustained energy without that burnout afternoon crash. Potent Organics has tons of great supplements that will also reduce inflammation such as Turmeric (which contains curcumin, an extremely potent anti-inflammatory spice),Saffron, Resveratrol and Chlorella. These all have powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-aging effect for improved energy, sleep and immunity.
4. Get physically active: Getting more physically active doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym hard for an hour every day. It just simply means move more. Most Americans sit for up to 10 hours a day. Chronic sitting leads to increased risk for disease and this means more inflammation. I like to make sure to get up from my desk at least every 30 minutes to stretch my legs and refill my water. For more movement, I love to hop on the elliptical while listening to a motivational podcast. It’s an awesome motivator to move more and I finish feeling refreshed and inspired. I do this for 30 minutes 3 times a week to improve my mind and body.
Happily ever after
After Elizabeth started adopting these healthy lifestyle approaches, she noticed more energy throughout the day. She no longer had that 2pm crash that used to lead her to the vending machine. This motivated her to keep going. She now participates in a dance class weekly and regularly plans her meals to provide her the best fuel for her day. She enjoys food more and feels confident in her health journey.