If you think it’s no big deal when your hands swell or your rings don’t fit a couple of hours after you eat - think again! That bloated feeling probably means you ate something that gave you inflammation. Don’t just pass it off as thinking you ate too much. If you want to feel better, you need to figure out what it is that made you feel that way so you’ll know what to avoid.
For me, a big one is pasta. I love pasta - but I know if I eat it, I won’t feel good afterward. So I choose not to eat it because I don’t want the inflammation I know it will give me.
Inflammation can have a serious impact on your health. My dietician Lyn-Genet Recitas told me chronic inflammation can speed up the aging process, because it floods the tissues with free radicals and promotes the destruction of normal cells. I don’t want that, or any of the other things to which inflammation can contribute - like heart disease, diabetes, or cognitive disorders.
So what can you do to prevent inflammation? For me the big thing was figuring out what makes me react. Thanks to Lyn, I now know that I am highly reactive to a lot of foods, which means they are guaranteed to give me inflammation. To figure it out, I started by getting my system cleaned out so I was healthy. I didn’t do anything crazy like drinking water laced with lemon and cayenne pepper. I just ate healthy, pure foods. Lyn’s got great suggestions on her website at www.lyngenet.com.
The next step is to weigh in every morning. The first thing you need to do is go to the bathroom. After you weigh yourself, try eating something different that might be a problem for you - but only one thing. When you get on the scale the next day, you’ll know you have inflammation if your weight jumped up. And since you only added one new food, you’ll also know which food caused the inflammation. That’s how I figured out which foods I need to avoid.
You may be surprised at some of the foods that most people think are healthy but are actually reactive for a lot of people. Greek yogurt is a great example. According to Lyn, Greek yogurt is 85 percent reactive, which means most people shouldn’t eat it. Some other highly reactive foods on Lyn’s list include cottage cheese, asparagus, tomatoes and turkey. If you want to see where your favorite foods fall, we’ve got Lyn’s reactivity list on EmpowHER.com.
On the other side, there are foods that can help reduce inflammation, like lemon juice in water or on salad to help cleanse the liver. It’s also important to drink plenty of water. I know if I don’t drink enough water I will automatically gain half a pound. That’s inflammation from my body holding on to fluids. I drink 72 ounces of water every day. I know how much water is in a bottle, and I keep track of how many bottles I drink to make sure I get all the water I need.
Another benefit of drinking water is that I have more energy. When Lyn told me to give up my four lattes a day, I didn’t think I would survive without them. But now that I’m drinking more water, I am much more on my game with plenty of energy to get through the afternoon.
My bottom line is to eat the healthiest, cleanest foods that I can. And I won’t go for anything labeled low fat or diet - that just means the pure food was altered somehow and that can’t be good for me. Plus I don’t need to eat those things. I’ve lost over 10 pounds since I started this, just because I’m eating so much better. It’s not a one size fits all approach. By testing a variety of foods, I learned what works for me and what I just can’t eat. It all comes down to paying attention to what your body is telling you.
Michelle King Robson (pronounced robe-son) is one of the nation's leading women's health and wellness advocates. She is the Founder, Chairperson and CEO of EmpowHER, one of the fastest-growing and largest social health companies dedicated exclusively to women's health and wellness. In 2011 EmpowHER reached more than 60 million women onsite and through syndication expects to reach more than 250 million in 2012.