anti-inflammatory foods

Let me preface this entire post by saying… I am a beginner and really don’t know much about anti-inflammatory foods. BUT I wanted to share what I do know because during my research I was intimidated. Everyone discussing anti-inflammatory foods, recipes, and lifestyle changes talked about it like it was easy. Spoiler alert – it’s not 🙂 So why am I making changes to reduce inflammation? Several reasons…

  • I have an autoimmune disease, ulcerative colitis, that increases inflammation throughout your digestive system. 
  • I just tapered off a medication I was on for six years that treated chronic, fibromyalgia-like pain. (I did this for a number of reasons I’m sure I’ll elaborate on later, but long-story-short is… I’m losing my hair and this medication could be the culprit.)
  • I want to feel better and know this is something I should have done a long time ago. If it could help with the hair loss and chronic pain, sign me up. 

This post isn’t all about my diet changes, but other ways I’m trying to better myself by reducing inflammation. I hope this will help anyone else starting a similar journey understand you don’t have to be perfect at this. You can be a beginner and you don’t have to go all-in to see improvements. 

My Tapering Experience 

The medication I recently tapered off of is Cymbalta. This is an antidepressant commonly used for chronic pain. When I was 20, I woke up one day in pain I never felt before, and that began a year-long battle of figuring out a cause and treatment. 

Fast forward to the last six months, I’ve begun to lose my hair (see pictures below compared to the main image of the blog post.)

This has been a major source of anxiety and forced me to cut my hair (sigh). I went through a number of tests to figure out the cause and the only possibility my doctors and I could find was the Cymbalta. 

This was terrifying to me because Cymbalta honestly saved my life six years ago. Although, I knew I couldn’t be on this medicine forever if I decided to have children. I guess it was time to face the music and give tapering a try. 

If you don’t know… tapering off Cymbalta is a bitch. The manufacturer has even been caught up in legal battles because it’s nearly impossible for anyone that wants to taper to do so. Here’s a great article about withdrawal if you’re interested. 
For me, the first week wasn’t bad. The second week brought on migraines and the familiar pain I dreaded. I even had a day where I began to lose all feeling in my limbs and was drenched in sweat and vomiting from the pain. 

Now I have to be patient and see if the pain comes back full force. But, for anyone that knows me, knows I will do everything I can to fight it off. 

Diet Changes 

With all this in mind; chronic pain, ulcerative colitis, and hair loss… I knew my favorite things like pizza and brownies weren’t going to help. I began doing some research knowing full-well I wouldn’t eliminate these things from my diet. I still plan on eating pizza, I just may opt for gluten-free more than normal. Instead of going for cookies at work, I am going to be prepared with a better alternative. 

My plan of attack is to be more proactive about making snacks, lunches, and dinners with anti-inflammatory foods and having knowledge of what can trigger inflammation. A lot of this is just accepting it and making the effort. 

Here are some of my favorite recipes so far: 

Black Bean Brownies vs. Store Bought Brownies 

I love chocolate so much, okay. And I’m telling you, black bean brownies sound disgusting. But they’re not. They’re great. And, they’re flourless, gluten-free, and a decent source of protein and fiber. 

Taco Bowls vs. Chipotle 

Mexican food is one of my favorites, so these taco bowls are a regular in our rotation. Instead of shells or white rice, we use brown rice or quinoa. And, I usually avoid my beloved sour cream and added cheese and am still satisfied. 

Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes vs. A Sandwich

Instead of saying all these are my favorite, if you made it this far, you understand I just really love food. These are super easy and filling and sweet potatoes are an awesome food to fight inflammation. 

Cheerios and a Scoop of Peanut Butter vs. Toast

Bread, in general, is another weakness of mine and I love toast in the morning. But, this is an easy way to cut inflammatory foods (gluten) out of my diet. Instead, I have a scoop of peanut butter and a smoothie with ginger and kale and a bowl of cheerios. I stay fuller longer and I’m getting a lot of anti-inflammatory benefits to start the day. 

Additional Supplements 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been taking vitamins. So I thought I was doing all I could in regards to supplements. Luckily, I have really good friends that listen to me, and they’re extremely smart. One of these friends is an occupational therapist, and although not all our opinions align, I knew this was the time to listen. 

She suggested I started taking Miniami Mood Fish Oils and 
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Mood+ Probiotics. It can take some time for these to show any improvement in pain and mood, but I know to take them can only help. 

What No One Talks About 

I know everyone’s situation is unique but for me, this has been mentally exhausting. I’m only 26 and am worrying about not being able to have kids in the same minute I’m worrying about having to wear a wig. All of these worries while being in, at times, debilitating pain

Will an improved diet and supplements solve these complex problems? Probably not. But they will help. Among these things I’ve been going to therapy, confiding in friends and family, and religiously using a gratitude journal. I’m blessed to have the resources to affordthese things and the friends I have in my life. I recognize that not everyone does. 

I know I’ve talked about this before, but with all this considered, you have to be your own advocatewhen it comes to your health well-being. A pill and an appointment won’t do the hard work assigned to you, even if the bloggers sharing their experience make it seem that way.  

I’m still very early in this journey and writing about it helps me. I hope it helps someone else too…whether you’re going through something like this or know someone that’s having a similar experience.