Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eating can be a pain--or not

Are you tired of aches and pains, especially when you haven’t even done the work to earn them?

I know I was. Two years ago I had a simple knee surgery, repairing a torn meniscus in my left knee. The original problem with my knee was taken care of, but I was left with an on-again, off-again pain in that knee that the doctor chalked up to my age and arthritis. His recommendation was to take pain pills. The odd thing was, the pain was worse at night. Sometimes it got so bad it would wake me up. At times it got so bad I couldn’t sleep all night because of the pain. Ibuprofen didn’t cut it. I had to move on to Lortab. I had to up my dosage. I became allergic to Lortab. I put up with the pain and thus lack of sleep.

This past summer I went on the HCG diet. Losing my goal of ten pounds was nice, but the side effect of my diet was priceless. While on the diet I ate only freshly cooked lean meat and fresh vegetables and drank lots of water—only water, no sugary or chemically sweetened soft drinks etc. I realized that while I was on that diet, and for sometime afterward while on a maintenance plan, I was without knee pain. I thought maybe my knee was finally all healed up.

Like with most diets, in quick fashion I had slipped back into my busy rut of grabbing garbage on the go. My knee started hurting again. I finally put the pieces together and confirmed my prognosis with research:

*Pain is associated with inflammation

*Foods that cause inflammation are sugar, refined foods, hydrogenated oils and inadequate consumption of water

*Foods that are anti-inflammatory are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and hydration (drinking lots of water)

The past week or so I have cut out all traces of junk in my diet and forced myself to drink more water. Finally, yesterday I was able to sleep without pain in my knee. I feel good, I have more energy, and funny thing—that frosted sugar cookie doesn’t tempt me anymore. Threat of knee pain is a much better motivation to skip the sweets than any promise of shedding a pound or two ever was.

Now, my turn to preach. If you suffer from arthritis, or headaches, or anything that requires constant consumption of pain pills, try cutting out all inflammatory foods. Yes, that means no more fast food, prepackaged prepared foods, anything convenient. “What will I eat for lunch?” you ask. Try making my favorite. It actually takes less time than running into town to McDonalds. It is a spinach, avocado, pomegranate salad. (See the photo up top). I just fill a bowl with pre-washed spinach, add a few chunks of cauliflower, a quarter of a pomegranate (seeds pulled out and separated), a quarter to a half of an avocado sliced up, and a handful of raw cashews. I drizzle it with my homemade vinaigrette dressing. (The recipe was my mid-month make something madness for the month of June). I like to eat this salad with a handful of whole wheat crackers or toast.


  1. I'm so happy that your knee is feeling better! I think that if the first step everyone took towards better health was drinking more water, they'd be surprised at how much better they felt in a lot of ways. The salad looks delicious! But, I'm afraid I'll still have to have the cookie...once in a while :)

  2. Wow, I've never thought of diet affecting pain levels. That's really interesting. I'm sorry about your knee, but I'm glad you've found a way to manage it.