Whether you experience regular headaches, rashes, nasal congestion, or joint pain, the diet that you eat regularly is probably playing some role in creating or sustaining the pain. Foods can also be used to help soothe and relieve pains or discomfort that we feel in our bodies. At La Crisalida, we follow the philosophy of listening to your body combined with a common sense approach to health and nutrition. In this article we look at how you can start to identify which food is contributing to pain you might be experiencing and how to reduce the pain you feel in your body.
The first step is to determine which foods are best to eat or avoid. Before starting to implement any changes to your diet, identify exactly what the pain is, and where it is, that you wish to stop or reduce. Keep a diary for at least one week, prior to making any changes to your diet recording symptoms, aches, pains in detail as well as a record of all the food and liquid that you eat or drink during this period.
(i) Elimination diet: 2 to 4 weeks.
Everyone is different, so identify which foods cause pain or discomfort in your body. Common triggers include chocolate, eggs, diary products, tomatoes, onions, wheat, citrus fruits, meat, nuts and peanuts, corn, apples, bananas, alcohol (especially red wine) and caffeine. Some might lead to a rash, others to headaches or migraines.
Cut out all the main triggers listed here for a period of up to 4 weeks. During this time, it is important to keep a detailed food diary. Note whether the pain or symptoms have disappeared. If your pain or symptoms do not change by excluding all of the above triggers, it may be something else causing the pain and you might need to consider other possible triggers.
(ii) Reintroduce foods
After the elimination period, if you are pain and symptom free, then slowly start to reintroduce each of the foods one at a time every few days, noting any changes in pain or symptoms. If you remain pain free, then this food is probably okay for you. If you start to experience pain again, then it is probably best to avoid that food for some time.
During this diet we suggest that you lightly cook your vegetables (rather than eating them raw) and gradually move over time to eating veggies raw (by doing so you will increase the natural antioxidants in your diet). We also suggest keeping consumption of alcohol, caffeine, meat and diary to a minimum or continuing to exclude them permanently.
Guiding principles for using food to relieve pain
There are three guiding principles for using food to relieve pain on an ongoing basis:
(a) Choose foods that are pain-free for you. Exclude your personal food triggers.
(b) Add soothing foods into your diet.
Some foods are soothing to the majority of people, including water, cooked green/ yellow / orange vegetables and brown rice. Including these items regularly in your diet will help to soothe your body and its systems.
(c) Use supplements where necessary.
Multivitamin supplements can be a good addition to your diet, although is not essential if you eat a balanced healthy diet. Useful vitamins include: Vitamin B6 which can increase pain resistance. You can also take GLA supplements (best under medical supervision) or omega-3 fatty acid. Vitamin E or C supplements will give your body an antioxidant boost, improving your immune system. Vitamin B12 supplements are particularly important if you follow a vegan diet.
By following the above approach, you may be able to reduce your pain or other medication (although remember to check with your doctor before making changed to prescribed medicines). We hope that by identifying and excluding food triggers you will start to feel less pain and be more comfortable in your body, bringing balance all over. To your health.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).