Know Your Food Triggers
Identifying what sets off your joints, such as food triggers, is key to managing inflammation in your body.
This came to mind yesterday when I visited a favorite coffee shop and decided I’d enjoy a sugary treat. As you know, I live by my *FRESH* strategy to help keep my inflammation in check. That means limiting processed foods, added sugar and salt when I make food choices.
I’d been successful passing on Christmas cookies and sweets at our family gathering earlier, so I thought I was in good shape to have my favorite hot chocolate concoction topped with tiny, crunchy marshmallows. Bad choice. You would think I would learn, and I am, but it comes down to the fact I pay when I make these poor choices.
I can have a small amount of sugar without “blowing up my joints”, but it is a small amount and certainly not with a processed food at the same time. The favorite hot chocolate not only is topped with marshmallows, that are made with processed corn syrup, but has flavored sweeteners. OUCH!
I react to some foods almost immediately. Within minutes. I get a sensation in my joints, usually my wrists, but it can show up in my knees or elbows. The sensation is best described as creepy. It is painful and kind of fizzy. I also can feel warm throughout my body. And it isn’t a cozy type of warmth. I’m not very good at articulating these things, but it is yucky. And I know the culprit. A food trigger.
I can literally feel the inflammatory effects going on in my body, and I don’t like it. Enough so that I will eventually never order one of these “treats” again because I will associate the thought of consuming such “treat” with yucky inflammation. This has already happened with the cold, sweet and flavored coffee drink. When I hear the word frappuccino or frappe, I cringe.
How Do You Identify Food Triggers?
The best way is to determine to focus on how you feel after you eat. This didn’t come naturally for me. I had to learn how to take a moment and think about how I felt after I would eat. Especially when I knew I consumed something that may have contained a processed product or added sugar and/or salt. This gets tricky because if we are not preparing the food, we don’t know what is really in it. And I’ve learned food triggers can be incorporated in a food and I can’t always isolate the taste. In other words, the food trigger can be masked in a product.
Another potential help is a trusted friend or family member or someone on your healthcare team. My Pilates instructor was valuable to me when I was first trying to pay attention to how my behaviors affected how I felt. I didn’t know she was already on the food piece to minimizing inflammation in the body when she would inquire what I had eaten on the day of training and then would ask how my body was doing. She put it together that I would have trouble when I ate certain things.
I would also suggest a food diary. There are all sorts of apps available to record what you eat on your smart phone to be able to analyze how your body reacts to what you eat. The old fashioned food log written on a notebook would work as well.
Making behavior changes is a process. We are all unique, so what food triggers you may have are not necessarily going to trigger an arthritic flare in me. We do have general guidelines and we know sugar causes inflammation in the body. Processed food has been implicated, as well. Beyond limiting processed foods, and added sugars and salt, we are well served to identify specific food triggers to avoid. For me it is marshmallows and sugar free chewing gum. My body screams at me almost immediately when I have either!
The way I look at it is the more I can prevent inflammation in my body the better off I am. I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that is the cause of inflammation in my body. Any way I can prevent further inflammation is well worth my effort.
And that is using Arthritis Wisdom!
Photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash