So I was out to dinner last night with a group, and for whatever reason something came up about arthritis and chronic pain from some of the people I was eating with. I made mention that foods can increase/reduce inflammation, and it seemed like a topic people there weren’t very well versed on. I figured it might be a good topic to bring here.
Summer of 2016. I’m 372 pounds. 40 years old. I had just wrapped up my MBA, and that did contribute to the last 15-20 pounds with stress and late nights. However, I distinctly recall walking into work. More like hobbling. My hips hurt, my knees hurt. I was smoking.
I figured, “I’m 40 years old, I’m just getting old. This is supposed to hurt. I hate getting old.”
Little did I know, some of the videos I would watch would change this thought forever.
What is inflammation? Well – as I explained in my previous post, I am not an MD or PhD, or anything like that, but I can describe it in that it appears to be the body’s response to trauma. Vague, and not specific, I know. But think of cutting your finger. Trauma happens to a local area, swelling happens to prevent you from bleeding out. Repair happens locally with clotting, then tissue repair.
Inflammation is the body’s response.
Most people reading this believe that saturated fats and cholesterol is what blocks arteries and kills you with a heart attack. They’d be wrong. Essentially, when you eat sugars/carbohydrates, the sugars are like sandpaper inside of your arteries. Your body then has inflammation as a response, and dials up cholesterol to go repair the damage locally. It’s a tiny crack that cholesterol acts as drywall for. How the body is supposed to respond to this further is vitamin C you eat is supposed to go and pull off the drywall patch and do long term tissue repair. However, sugars fight for vitamin C on those receptors, so the cholesterol keeps building up and building up…and then you die. Cholesterol is a good thing to have, and needed to synthesize hormones.
So what happened to me? Foods I was eating was causing constant inflammation in my body. Like 90% of my diet was causing inflammation. What was I eating?
Breakfast – usually coffee with 2 TBSP sugar and chocolate coffee creamer. Possibly 1-2 egg/ham/cheese breakfast sandwiches and maybe some fried hash browns with ketchup.
Mind you, I was smoking…
Snack – this breakfast somehow got me hungry around 9:30 or 10..like DEEP hunger. So when I’d stop at Rutter’s in the morning, I’d get 2 20oz sodas. One orange, the other grape.
Lunch – One of my favorite lunches to ever eat, I stopped doing awhile back, but I did this occasionally – quarter pounder with cheese, double cheeseburger, large fries, and diet coke of course. That is 1400-1600 calories or so. Sometimes I’d do “good”, and get a ham/cheese sandwich on a pretzel roll, chips…maybe a third item like a peanut butter egg. Still 1200-1400 calories.
Dinner – Somehow, I’d be starving by around 5. Ravenous. Sometimes, I’d order a large pizza, 12 hot wings, chips, and maybe a hoagie. I’d eat 4 big slices of pizza, 6-8 hot wings, chips, and maybe half the hoagie. Leftovers were for tomorrow night dinner. Otherwise, perhaps a giant plate of pasta, 2-3 slices of bread.
This was close to an average day. A lot of this was driven by massive hunger. It was a repeating cycle I could not break.
Now, I saw this chart, or something like this, and the light bulb went off for me.
So – what did I do?
In August of 2016, I spent 2-3 weeks putting a plan together. I researched how to food prep. I tried different recipes (while still eating my shit foods). I set a date that I was going to change my life. That was 16 months ago, and in the first month, all of my chronic pain went away. ALL OF IT.
If you look at the column on the left, I barely ate any of this. If you look at the column on the right, this was 90% of my life.
I also came up with a plan that copied Alton Brown. He mentioned he cut pasta down to one time a week. Not mentioned on the chart above, but the one below is gluten.
So – when you live a life of drinking, smoking, eating fried foods, gluten, white flour, preservatives, aspartame, transfats, white sugar, processed meats like ham – you are going to feel pain, and a LOT of it.
As Americans, we are then taught to go to our doctor and give us a prescription to take away this pain. Luckily, there’s a pill for everything these days.
I used to scoff when my doctor would tell me to lose weight. Like, he just doesn’t understand my life. My stress. My commute. I’ll lose weight after Christmas. Or when it gets nicer out.
Or, you can do what I did and put together a plan over 2-3 weeks and aggressively change your life. Learn how to prep. Test ingredients to come up with some good shit.
I’m down almost 90 pounds in that 16 months. My chronic pain is gone. If I did have a bad few days with shit food, my body would SCREAM at me. This is what happened the week over Christmas this year. I then went a step further and went keto, which took my anti-inflammatory stuff and kicked it up 5 notches. I feel AMAZING.
Interesting. EVERYTHING above is anti-inflammatory. I would say the exception to that is you see some bacon on this. So, while we do eat SOME bacon, it’s not like I am stuffing my face with it.
So – take stock. Want to feel better? Reduce inflammation with your diet and lifestyle, then add anti-inflammatory foods to really kick some ass.
Last year, at 355 pounds, I ran 3 miles at a park. I felt so much better from my diet, I wasn’t lethargic anymore. I slept through the night. I felt rested. I stopped getting the heroin nods at 2PM after a big lunch. I had tons of energy. This led to energy for working out.
By changing my diet, it has allowed everything after it to happen.
I used to think, “these fries are 450 calories” – and with this, if I hit a magical number of 2500 calories, I was being “healthy”. Little did I know the shit foods I was putting into my body to make up those 2500 calories was slowly killing me.
The 2200+ calories I eat today? Powerful shit.
Edit – Omegas.
You hear things about omega 3’s. Long story short, your body needs to have a ‘good balance’ between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. This is why, if you eat salmon, you need to do wild caught as opposed to farmed.
Some small things I do? I always get “free range” eggs. They are costly, but this is massive in taking omega 6s to omega 3s. I do the grass fed beef, whenever possible, at the store. I have tried wild caught salmon. I use olive oil, butter (kerrygold grass fed butter), and coconut oil as opposed to vegetable oils. I eat a lot of chia seeds (different kind of omega 3 from salmon, by the way).
Long story short – this is also a topic you might want to look into. I supplement with omega 3 fish oil because I can’t get enough in me naturally. One again, I revert back to what our ancestors did, and I believe that people always lived close to water due to the plentiful food supplies, access to salt in the water, etc. Our human evolution depended on those who get more omega 3s to reproduce.
This generation has tons of omega 6s to omega 3s. That is a HUGE problem, and the omega 6s cause inflammation. So everyone is walking around hurting…and they want a pill.