The foods we eat can have a huge impact on our pain health. Some foods can cause more inflammation, and thus pain, while others may be able to protect and help the body. When you take the food out of the restaurant and into the home kitchen, however, you can really amp up the pain health benefits of food.

1. Key in on super foods

Cooking in the kitchen allows you to key in on the super foods that may actually be able to reduce inflammation. While meals eaten at restaurants or fast food places can have healthy alternatives, mixing and matching your own favorite super foods can help provide the pain kicking effects that you truly want. While you should first focus in on fruits and vegetables, of course, there are some that have even more anti-inflammatory benefits. These include cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, and berries. Consider tossing together a broccoli salad with dried cranberries and a yogurt based dressing for maximum impact!

2. Avoid foods that cause inflammation 

Unfortunately the reason that food often tastes so good at restaurants and fast food places is because of the major sugar, salt, and fat used to cook these meals. Even more unfortunate for those in pain, these same things can often exacerbate pain symptoms. It’s best to avoid high-fat foods like bacon, butter, and cream when working towards a pain healthy diet. Red meats, gluten products, sugar, and salt may also affect your symptoms. Experiment to see which types of foods provoke the most pain for you and aim to reduce these choices in your diet.

3. Cook with heart healthy fats

Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may actually reduce inflammation or actually mitigate the severity of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. While restaurant meals are often cooked in vegetable oils, you can choose your own heart healthy fats to cook with when cooking at home. Olive oil in particular can help reduce inflammation, as well as reduce pain itself. Research is still ongoing, though some studies have shown that a compound in olive oil, oleocanthal, may actually have the same pain-relieving effect on the body as aspirin or ibuprofen.

4. Use onions, garlic, and spices to boost flavor 

Onions and garlic contain phytochemicals that can also reduce inflammation. Instead of getting flavor from fats or red meats, look to these vegetables in order to build up a flavor base for virtually every meal. In addition, spices like turmeric and ginger are anti-inflammatory in their own right. Think about throwing together a stir fry that incorporates salmon (high in omega-3 fatty acids), garlic, onions, and cauliflower for a delicious meal that is also high in anti-inflammatory compounds.

5. Find relaxation and family time 

While the previous benefits cover the actual changes you can make on your diet by cooking at home, one of the largest benefits of cooking at home is simply the time for relaxation and bonding that it allows. By connecting with family over dinner, you can save money, reduce stress, and create bonds to help you through your worst pain days.

Why do you cook at home? How could you incorporate more home cooking into your daily life? 

Image by Ginny via Flicker

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