Eating a holistic diet for pain health is more than just sneaking more fruits and veggies into your daily meals. Looking at your diet holistically means thinking not only about what you put into your body but also how you get it there and what that means for your physical, mental, and emotional health. From the top (mental health) to the bottom (strong bones and muscles), eating for pain health can incorporate many different types of dietary changes.
Here are 41 ways to start building a holistic diet for pain health.
Many suggestions for pain health begin with looking at the physical aspect of diet: the food we eat. It’s important to also focus on the way that we are affected mentally by pain and work to create a healthy diet for our mental well-being.
Because pain can have a profound impact on mental health, start off your holistic diet for pain health by checking out blogs that focus on feeding the mind and changing attitudes. We love this round-up of 13 excellent posts on the importance of caring for our mental health, including the recommendations for getting more (better!) sleep and tips for coping with stressful life events.
Another way to get started is to check out ten of our favorite healthy eating blogs. With recipes, recommendations, and plenty of support regardless of what changes you are making to your diet, these are ten of the best bloggers around in terms of pain health and nutrition.
You can also focus your diet for pain health on a specific pain condition like fibromyalgia or arthritis. There is considerable overlap in the types of foods you might eat for pain health regardless of diagnosis. It can be helpful to see these recommendations in multiple places to reinforce the idea that there are ways to treat your pain with diet.
But these changes don’t have to happen all at once. As we noted, in our post on choosing these two superfoods for optimal health, making healthy choices starts one meal at a time. You can begin to create a diet for pain health with just one meal a day.
Last year was a great year for these ten pain-healthy cookbooks especially given that they are written for any level of expertise. As we noted in our post:
“Preparing your own fresh food can be one of the best, most therapeutic treatments for your chronic pain. The good news is that 2015 was a bonanza of pain-healthy cookbooks for all types of diets. Chefs of any level, from ‘I can burn water’ to ‘I am a master of haute cuisine,’ can find a cookbook that works for them.”
We found what we consider to be the three best cookbooks for pain-healthy recipes. Starting with a cookbook tailored to pain health is a good way to change your diet.
What you put into your body is important, but how you eat can be one of the most important parts of eating for pain health. Mindful eating is a way to eat that helps us focus on what we are doing instead of mindlessly consuming calories. This helps us to manage weight, an important part of pain health specifically, but also helps us enjoy what we are eating. In short:
“Mindful eating doesn’t put pressure on an individual to make specific choices. The idea is that when you listen to your body you’re not going to binge on chocolate cake in the first place because it won’t make you feel very good afterwards. Instead, you let your body tell you what it wants and when it wants it. There is no shame in the occasional cookie. Mindful eating removes judgment. It gives a person permission to make food choices that work for them.
Mindful eating takes food back from the sofa and gives it the place it deserves in our lives. When you’re hungry, stop anything else you’re doing. Sit and eat the food slowly and carefully. Feel it, smell it, and taste it. All of these things contribute to the way we enjoy and consume food.”
Mindful eating is as much about how much you eat as it is about what you eat. Portion sizes in the U.S. have doubled (or more) since the 1950s, contributing to a rise in weight gain and obesity-related illness. Slowing down and thinking about how much food goes into your body can be an important factor in pain heath.
Adding to this wisdom about what to eat and how, considering when to eat for pain health can be an important part of a holistic diet plan. Conventional wisdom has put forth many ideas that research has tested and found lacking in the past several decades. It is important to understand that for pain patients, when you eat may be guided by your pain condition:
“It is apparent that there are situations where altering the times you eat could impact the way your body is affected by chronic conditions or pain. As with the example for Type-2 diabetes, there may be some wisdom in abandoning the idea of six small meals a day and focus on two that encompass all of the dietary, caloric, and nutritional needs of your day.
In many cases, it also depends on your body’s specific needs when it comes to eating times. You can take cues from your pain as well. For instance, if your fibromyalgia pain increases after eating a large meal try eating several small meals instead.”
Taking care of your mental health, getting advice from experts, eating mindfully at times that work for you, and watching portion sizes are all great ways to create a holistic diet.
How do you manage your pain health with a holistic diet?