Reader question: I try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet of mostly whole foods, since I find it really helps me feel and look great. But sometimes, I slip up and have things like French fries, baked goods, or a cheeseburger—and my body is never happy about it the next morning. We all have our cheat moments, but is there anything I can eat or drink immediately after to help minimize the damage?
Ashley’s answer: Dear "Perfect" Person: It's so nice to meet you, finally! Haha, but seriously, in terms of anti-inflamm hot stuff, "To err is human," baby! That's true in fashion, at work, and most certainly in your nutrition. So first point, no beating yourself up for slip-sliding your way into a non-anti-inflamm option from time to time. Second, welcome to my world of AKA (that's Ashley Koff Approved) tricks to get you out of the "Ugh, I just made a nutrition blunder" trap.
These are a few of my favorite things:
1. Water with lemon
Sure, regular water is good to throw on any fire, but when you've overheated thanks to some overindulging, adding some lemon or lime to your water will help extinguish your digestive flames better! No cheating here, though. Add the juice of half an organic lemon or lime—not just a slice, and not a lemon-flavored powder or drink.
2. Digestive enzymes
Ok, so who does a celebrity call when in a bind? Their personal assistant! And now, you've got one—hundreds of them, actually. Digestive enzymes are what the body should release into action when you eat and drink. But sometimes they're busy, or age slows them down, or they miss the call and even the text. So within an hour or so of your food offense (or simultaneously, ideally), throw back a few quality digestive enzymes, and you'll be humming a fresh tune soon after.
3. Minerals are magic
Especially potassium (for hydration) and magnesium (for motility, stress reduction, and better sleep). Try coconut water, add avocado to your less-than-perfect meal, and consider a magnesium citrate supplement before bed.
4. Balance your nutrients
At your eating "debacle" and, very importantly, at your subsequent eating occasions, don't skip a nutrient as punishment for overdoing it. And don't forget to get in each of them: carbs, protein, fat, and non-starchy veggies, when in balance, are necesssary. Incidentally, these nutrient-intakes should occur within 45 minutes of waking and roughly every three hours after.
5. Don't double down on yourself
No, I'm not talking about ordering two servings of fries or getting ice cream with a topping. I'm talking about not getting down on yourself when you've downed something less than optimal. There's really no food that's as bad for us as any emotional self-abuse we can deliver. Let it go. Right now is a new hour. Be the anti-inflammatory-diet-following god or goddess you know you are. Hopefully you enjoyed what you ate, so savor that flavor, that moment, and happily move onto your next.
Ashley Koff is a registered dietitian, Qualitarian, nutrition expert, and co-author of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged (Hay House; 2011) as well as Recipes for IBS (Fair Winds Press; 2007).