This 7-day anti-inflammatory diet meal plan can be the first step on your journey to reduce chronic inflammation and pain and to get back to living fully. The one-week menu includes anti-inflammatory recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Now, I need to make a little bit of a warning for this anti-inflammatory meal plan. It’s gluten-free, and dairy-free, but not night-shade-free. If you need to be – sub whatever you can’t have with foods you can have. Also, for some, you’ll need to change up some of the original recipes to make them more anti-inflammatory. Those are minor changes like use flax oil in place of olive oil – I’ll be writing a note next to every recipe though, so you should be good.
Chronic Inflammation And The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Chronic inflammation is basically inflammation that hasn’t been fully resolved. So if you hit and hurt your toe for example, your body reacts by increasing inflammation in order to heal that injury. Inflammation is a necessary, life-saving reaction of your immune system to injury. Once it gets resolved – you’re fully healed. You’re brand new!
But sometimes your hurt toe doesn’t fully heal and inflammation lingers. It becomes chronic. This can then lead to all kinds of health problems and chronic medical conditions. There are many things that can prevent the complete healing of your toe, some examples are chronic stress, or big stressful events, repeated injury, infections or even the use of certain medical products.
Diet can play a big role in inflammation as well, as it is the source of nutrients needed to heal your body. For example, if you have a nutritionally poor diet, you’re probably deficient in essential nutrients necessary for resolving inflammation. That might be the problem and the very reason you can’t fully heal.
The goal of the anti-inflammatory diet is to supply your body with all the nutrients it needs to heal completely while reducing the harmful foods that keep damaging your body over and over again. This gives your body the time and resources to heal properly.
You can’t control many other things, but diet is the one thing you can control if you set your mind to it. So do it.
About This Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan
This anti-inflammatory meal plan is about consuming more anti-inflammatory foods and keeping other foods to a minimum. So what are anti-inflammatory foods?
In general, we want foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols and low in omega-6 fatty acids, simple carbs as well as saturated fats. This excludes many of the foods we consume on a regular basis, so here’s what we’re left with:
- Flaxseed, chia seeds and flax oil (omega-3s)
- Greens and cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes, cabbage, arugula;
- Fresh herbs like parsley, basil or cilantro
- Berries – blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries
These foods should be on your plate at every meal and should make up the bulk of your daily menu.
Foods That You Can Add
The next chunk of your diet are foods that are neutral. They’re rich in nutrients and have an even omega-3/omega-6 ratio or are low in omega-6’s, saturated fats and simple carbs that can cause unhealthy blood sugar spikes. These foods include:
- green beans
- all spices (black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and turmeric)
Also, although avocado and olives have a higher omega-6/omega-3 ratio, they’re both super satisfying foods, mainly rich in monounsaturated fats, which can be beneficial when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Foods To Avoid
No need to doubt – we will exclude anything fried, overly processed and with excess sugar.
However, we’ll go a bit beyond that for this anti-inflammatory diet meal plan. We’ll also get rid of healthy foods that are naturally high in omega-6s, simple carbs and saturated fats. These foods include:
- anything fried
- processed food
- high-glycemic foods (like rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
- anything with added sugar
- nuts and nut butters
- most seeds (except for chia and flax)
- chickpeas (omega-6’s)
- all oils except for flax oil (including olive oil and coconut oil)
- all dairy
- all grains
- red meat
- honey and maple syrup
- all other types of sweeteners
Why Should Many Apparently Healthy Foods Be Avoided?
Over the last two years, I recognized that there were some foods that were recommended as anti-inflammatory everywhere, but when you really look at their nutrition, weren’t optimal for a truly anti-inflammatory diet.
For example, I used to believe that walnuts, whole grains, chicken, and hemp seeds were good for this type of diet and I even wrote a few articles about it.
But last year I did some more research due to my own health struggles and found out that although these foods were healthy and nutritious, they were actually much higher in omega-6’s, which are directly pro-inflammatory. That’s why we need to avoid them for this anti-inflammatory diet meal plan.
I was particularly surprised about walnuts, which are always promoted as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. This honestly blew my mind. Turns out they’re one of the richest sources of omega-6s!
Now, this wouldn’t be a bad thing if you’re perfectly healthy, but if you’ve got chronic inflammation in your body, you likely have a much higher omega-6/omega-3 ratio. Ideally, this ratio needs to be lower, something like 3:1, but with our typical diets, even when they’re healthy (including oats for breakfast, salad for lunch and a chicken dinner), it’s more like 20:1. Or even higher. So, if we’re not feeling well, we need to get that ratio lower, in order to reduce inflammation. That’s why the focus is eating more omega-3 foods and excluding omega-6-rich foods.
Don’t get me wrong, these foods are not necessarily unhealthy, but they might prevent or slow down your healing.
Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan Recipes
With all this in mind, here are some naturally anti-inflammatory recipes that I have shared over the years and that you can use to create your weekly menu.
Breakfast and Snack:
Chia pudding. (1 serving) A little bit of nut milk is okay to use for this recipe, it’s best if you can make it yourself. Leave out the maple syrup and add some banana chunks for sweetness.
Kale Smoothie With Berries. (1 serving) Use 1 cup of kale, or use spinach instead and omit the almond butter. Instead add 3 tbsp of chia seeds.
The Best Green Smoothie. (1 serving) My favorite green smoothie! Make sure to add 2-3 tbsp of chia or flax seeds (no need to soak) for some extra omega-3’s and protein. The addition of seeds will make the smoothie more filling and perfect for a quick breakfast.
Lunch And Dinner
Tomato Avocado and Arugula Salad. (2 servings) To make it fit the anti-inflammatory diet meal plan, don’t add the toasted sesame seeds and use flax oil instead of olive oil.
Salmon Lettuce Wraps. (4 servings) These lettuce wraps are so SO good! But you need to modify them a little bit. To do this, skip the garlicky sunflower seed cream cheese. You can serve as is, or make a dressing using lemon juice, flax oil, minced garlic and thinly chopped basil.
Broccoli and Red Lentil Soup. (2 servings). This soup is perfect for chilly days, especially for dinner. I would still use the one tbsp of olive oil to make it, but if you want to be super strict – just use a little bit of water and add a tbsp of flax oil when cooking is done.
Lentil Spinach Soup. (4 servings) Very light and tasty, again feel free to omit the olive oil and to use water in the beginning. Add flax oil after it’s cooked.
Easy Radish Salad. (1 serving) If you have lots of radishes you can make this light and simple lunch.
Anti-Inflammatory Salmon Salad. (2 servings) You can make the salad with some flax oil instead of olive oil and omit the sweet potatoes (high glycemic index). In place of sweet potatoes, use beans or roasted cauliflower.
Mashed white bean salad. (2-4 servings) Swap the olive oil for flax oil, throw in some more spinach and arugula and serve it in lettuce or on cucumber slices.
Easy White Bean Salad. (1 serving) Nothing to change here! I did this one after changing my diet, maybe throw in some extra spinach?
Super Fresh Shrimp, Avocado and Arugula Salad. (2 servings). Again, change the olive oil and use flax oil instead.
Sample Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan Day
Breakfast: The Best Green Smoothie (don’t forget to add 3-4 tbsp of chia seeds, I’d double the recipe if you’re hungry!)
Lunch: Tomato Avocado Arugula Salad (use flax oil, no sesame seeds and if hungry – enjoy 2 servings) or Mashed white bean salad with lettuce and cucumber slices (I’d eat 2 servings since there’s no bread, don’t forget the flax oil!)
Snack: Chia pudding with some banana and strawberries (have 1/2 of the recipe, no nut butter and no syrup – great if you need a sweet snack)
During the whole week of this anti-inflammatory diet meal plan, try to have a few plant-based days. You want to eat seafood two to three times per week, not more.
Remember to eat enough, you don’t need to feel hungry. If you feel like seconds – have them!
Other Things To Do
Now, as I mentioned there are many, many reasons for chronic inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet meal plan can help, but there might be other things you need to fix in your life as well. Here are some things to consider and good habits to adopt in order to reduce inflammation.
- Go out for long walks without any music or podcasts in your ears. You want to be present in the moment and to really see the beauty of nature, to let your mind wander and to get some steps in. Being in nature and exercise are both shown to help reduce stress, so if that’s a possible trigger for inflammation for you – try it!
- Take your vitamin D supplement consistently. As mentioned, chronic inflammation might be the result of nutrient deficiency. Most people are deficient in vitamin D these days (including myself) and this vitamin is found to be responsible for over 200 genes. So, if your levels are lower take a good supplement and a good amount of it!
- Other supplements. If possible ask your doctor to check for other nutrient deficiencies, and if present – take a supplement to correct them (along of course with an anti-inflammatory diet).
- Exercise. And challenge yourself. Don’t do something that’s too easy. If you can run, you don’t have to walk. Exercise over time activates several anti-inflammatory pathways in the body, so do what you can!
- Keep your relationships strong! Stay in touch with family and friends!
- Sleep! Now, I want you to remember this. Even with the best diet, if you’re not sleeping enough, your body cannot recover completely. To prevent this, during the day, try to stay away from negative and thought-consuming things like news, social media and negative messages that make you feel sad, angry or bitter. Instead focus on the good things, the things you can control and the things that are always stable. We’re talking – the sun coming up, being active, gardening, working hard towards something your heart desires and doing something fun like a dance class or a team sport. Spend time outside. Focus on a hobby.
More About Inflammation
I hope this was helpful and that you enjoy the recipes for this 7-day anti-inflammatory diet meal plan! For more information about chronic inflammation, you might also want to read these:
- 5 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
- How To Eat To Reduce Inflammation
- How To Make An Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie
- 1/2 avocado
- 8oz salmon, baked or cooked
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 2 tbsp grated ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp nigella
- 1 tsp flaxseed
- 1 tbsp flax oil
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup arugula
- 2 cups lettuce, chopped
- 1 cup radishes, in slices
- 1 cup beans, canned, rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp chopped basil or cilantro
- 1 small onion, chopped
- black pepper and salt to taste
- Add the cooked salmon to a bowl with the ginger, minced garlic, lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, chopped basil and some black pepper. Flake the salmon and mix together to help combine the flavors.
- Add arugula, chopped lettuce, radishes, cucumber and onion to a bowl. Add in the beans, avocado, and salmon.
- Season with lemon juice, flax oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle nigella seeds and flaxseeds on top and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 558Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 834mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 13gSugar: 15gProtein: 35g