Food with unsaturated fatsWelcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by program dietitian, Vicki Bovee, and her husband Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.


Challenge # 11 Eating to Reduce Inflammation
Before we get into the details of the anti-inflammatory diet, let me preface it with our reasons for this challenge. We both have arthritis in our lower backs and Bill has it in his neck as well. In the past, my arthritis has had me hobbling around and has affected my daily activities. Bill’s continues to be problematic. If you have arthritis there are things you can do to help alleviate pain: exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, do not smoke, minimize stress, and of course, eat a healthy diet. And so we focused on the recommendation of healthy eating to reduce inflammation.
Inflammation is associated with a multitude of health issues beyond arthritis. It is also linked to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, age-related macular degeneration, acne, allergies, and other diseases ending in itis. Any area of the body can become inflamed and common reactions are swelling, redness, and feeling pain and/or heat.
We continued to keep our food records so we could track our progress with meeting the recommendations. I purchased a couple of books to help me out with this challenge (see below). There was conflicting information between them but the basic recommendations were almost the same. Both books had recipes and we made recipes from both books. The Inflammation Free Diet Plan was more complicated with lists of foods ranked by their degree of causing inflammation. Those lists were handy to get an idea of which foods to include and which foods to avoid but we didn’t use the scoring system. Bottom line for eating to reduce inflammation from The Idiot’s Guide:

1. Eat a variety of wholesome foods to maintain health. Your body needs protein, fat and carbs. Eat foods that are low in sugar and rich in vitamins (Done).

2. Eat only unsaturated fats. Avoid the fats in animal products and the trans fats from processed foods. (Reducing saturated fat meant continuing with challenge#2- Eliminate cheese as an ingredient. We eliminated cheese altogether this week.)

3. Eat more omega-3s, other healthy fats, lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables daily. (We put ground flax in our fruit smoothies for breakfast. We ate raw walnuts for snack. I added chia seeds to my yogurt. We ate fish twice this week. We typically eat whole grain bread and brown rice so this was normal for us. We were already eating lean proteins. We continue to plug away on getting in all our fruits and veggies from challenge #6- Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.)

4. Cut out refined and processed foods. Get rid of the empty calories from refined flour, grains, and sugar. If you can’t cut them out, eat them as little as you can. (There goes Bill’s ice cream and my easy lunch meals of prepackaged salads and microwave meals.)

Vicki’s Observations:
• We pretty much cut out all packaged foods because so many of them have added sugars. When we were shopping we read the list of ingredients and put items back on the shelf.
• I ate more fruit for snacks since I eliminated protein bars.
• On a side note, my sodium intake was lower without packaged foods.
• I was below my saturated fat limit every day.
• Walnuts may be good sources of the omega-3s but they are high in calories. I weighed out ½ ounce for snacks and it was about 3 halves for 90 calories.
• We prepared all our meals from scratch. This was more effort entering meals into our food records but it was great to have the leftovers for lunch.
• My aches and pains were minimal before this challenge because I routinely exercise, eat healthy, and maintain my weight. So I can’t say I noticed a change there, but I had a more positive attitude this week from eliminating convenience foods.

Bill’s Observations:
• I had less overall pain in my joints which is a blessing for me and for Vicki (she didn’t have to hear me complain about my aches and pains as much as usual).
• I was able to finally reach my ultimate target weight of 175 pounds. I have been working on these last few pounds for months.
• I didn’t eat protein bars all week. I usually eat them daily so that was a big challenge for me.
• I also didn’t eat ice cream all week and this is probably why my pain level was down and along with my weight.
• This was a tougher challenge for me than most we have done so far but the fact that it was helping me not hurt as much made the effort worth the results.
• I want to do this one again at a later date.

Even if you do not have inflammation, this is still a healthy way to eat. It’s hard to argue against eating more fruits and veggies and cutting down on refined, processed foods.
Next week we are eating to help improve the environment. It’s hard to argue against that one too.
Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Idiot’s Guide: The Anti-Inflammation Diet by Christopher Cannon, MD, and Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LD
The Inflammation Free Diet Plan by Monica Reinagel

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?

The road to success is always under construction.
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7 Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.

Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.