My Anti-Inflammatory Diet

I have been asked by many people I meet at work, at the gym, on this blog and other places how I have been able to progress and live fairly normal with this disease. Actually, I must give credit to my excellent Rheumatologist, Dr Paul Howard in Scottsdale, Arizona for persuading me to adhere to the anti-inflammatory food guideline.

It was after 3 years of relapsing, I pleaded to him to help me avoid relapsing again. He looked me square in the eye and said “are you finally ready to do the anti-inflammatory diet, as if your life depends on it?”. I said yes and I was desperate. I would do whatever it takes to avoid the extreme pain, swelling, joint inflammation, sweats and and chills I was living with every time I relapsed. He gave me a general guideline of:


This was a shock to my normal way of living, because these items were basically what I ate. I used to eat white rice, wheat bread, pizza, cheese, ice-cream, dairy, etc.

So the first thing my husband did was empty the house of the things I should not eat. Since I was so weak, he went shopping for vegetables, chicken, fish, fruits, sunflower seed butter, peanut butter, almond butter, almond milk, many kinds of nuts. This diet was good for me because I had lost so much weight being sick that the nutritious fats helped me gain weight. I began to eat organic eggs, sliced turkey, sardines, bran. Since the methrotrexate blocks folic acid and i began to have severe neuropathy in my feet. My feet would burn like burning needles and I would cry when I walked. We learned that whole bran (All Bran Cereal) provided a super high amount of the folic acid I need to reverse the neuropathy in my feet. And it rates a whopping +109 on the IF Tracker scale!! A high positive number rating on a food is great! A negative number like -300 is BAD! And sugar and wheat rate TERRIBLE! a piece of cake with icing can rate as bad as -700!!! That means, OUCH!!! Joint pain, flares, etc.

I did a lot of searching on the web and found many anti-inflammatory articles. Ultimately, I found that many of the recipes I found were the same for cardiac inflammation. I learned that having constant inflammation in the body leads to disease and very often, many different auto-immune diseases. This made me wonder if I was inflaming my body for years and did not know it? Perhaps I was not really feeling well for years, but I had gotten used to feeling this way so I thought it was normal? I also learned that a person can feel perfectly fine, but have high levels of inflammation. Of course the body does need some inflammatory response to battle viral and bacterial invaders.

Deciding to live with the anti-inflammtory diet was a direct choice I had to embrace. When I acknowledged that this was going to be the way I was going to live, I searched the internet for every bit of information on recipes, food choices, inflammation levels of each food and foods that commonly inflame the body. I eventually stumbled upon an app that I relied on very heavily, until I learned it well. The app I found is called the IF TRACKER. I love the IF Tracker! It gives each food a rating of positive or negative, it also calculates the food depending on the size of the portion and adjust the rating appropriately.

What I learned from the IF Tracker is that, it has many foods in the list that I thought were healthy but were inflaming me. My doctor said it best when he gave me the outline of foods that are most inflammatory the the system.

My food intake was so extremely low when I was ill that I had a hard time getting calories in. My diet has changed to allow a small amount of negative rated foods in my food intake and it does not affect me. But this was trial and error for a few years, and also before my body had adjusted to medication. As I have said before in my blog, I am down to 2 methotrexate pills a week. But I must still watch my stress, fatigue levels, exhaustion and food intake very closely.

I will provide example of my daily diet and food intake. During these past few years I have had to learn to enjoy a new way of eating, and now I actually like it!

A typical day might be something like this:

1 cup coffee, creamer
1/2 bowl blueberries
1/2 cup bran cereal
1 cup almond milk (neutralizes alkaline in body to reduce inflammation)

Tuna fish
fat free mayonaise
2 tablespoons relish
1 avocado

Butternut squash
Romaine lettuce
Lemon juice
Olive oil

When I started the anti-inflamatory diet, I was extremely strict. For the optimum effect, you must start out this way. As, these past 3 years on the diet, I have started to include very small amounts of foods that have some negative rating no lower than -50 (according to the IF Tracker) . I have learned that the ratings are very important to follow, but if your body is beginning to show improvement, then you can experiment a little here and there.

I have also found that if I eat foods at are all rating very high in the positive scale in the +100’s, +200’s and higher as salmon and spinach do, then I know when I can add a lower rating food, such as potatoes or corn, which can rate as low -50, with it and it does not affect me.

There is also a website I use often, since it has the nutritional breakdown for almost every food on the planet. I love this site. I use it to find the inflammation factor of many different foods. It might be useful for you too.

Good Luck, please try the anti-inflammatory diet, whichever way you choose to do it, I believe it can save you from so much pain.

Hugs and sincerely wishing you good health my friends,


14 thoughts on “My Anti-Inflammatory Diet

    1. Dear Allison, it’s a strange thing I have found with this disease, sometimes diet change works for a long time, a few years for me and then it doesn’t seem to work at all. Then I go back to a very strict diet of no dairy, meat, sugar and flour. After a couple months, I go back to eating normally (meat, milk, and bread and all is fine. Strange disease.
      I am so glad you are doing well now. I do agree, that when I was flaring each month for a few years, MTX and then Medrol was the only combination that helped me. I am so grateful you had access to steroids. For me they were a prayer answered to begin to gain strength also.
      I am so happy that you are feeling well now. Best wishes to you for a healthy year ahead.
      Stay healthy friend.

    2. I am sorry for the late reply. I am not one to procrastinate. I am hoping your husband has a good Doctor and is taking the correct medication. 2 days ago, I began a full flare after many years. Going full force with the medrol and next step my usual course of meds. I am hoping your husband is not in pain.
      Wishing your husband strength and freedom from the evil dragon of this disease.

  1. I will definitely try this inflammatory way of eating. I am so very tired up the ups and downs of pain. I awoke in sever pain today. All of my joints hurt. I felt so stiff. I had to turn the heat on and get under an electric blanket, which helps tremendously.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Mitzi, I am so sorry you have pain. Thinking of you and wishing you relief. Staying on an anti inflammatory diet is difficult for me. I do well and then I slowly start adding my old favorite foods, cheese, yogurt, etc and then I feel horrible. Wishing you strength.

    1. Hi Elyse, thank you for finding my blog. I hope your health is good and getting better. I was following the Anti-inflammatory diet very strictly. It is not a gluten free diet. People who follow gluten free diets have inflammation, and other problems from gluten. The Anti-inflammatory app that I used, called the Inflammatory Factor, also online, ranks foods negatively or positively from zero to several hundred depending on the inflammation that a certain food causes on the body. Fir some reason, bran ranks very positively on the scale.
      When I was taking high dose of MTX and I was flaring, repeatedly, I would not consume foods that ranked more than negative 20 on the Inflammatory Factor diet. This diet helped me tremendously. I credit my return to better health to this diet. Some people say it didn’t really matter what they ate. I was at a desperate point in my life from the repeatedly flares, so I gave it a chance. I feared my medication dosage was going to be increased. So my Rheumatologist urged me to try the diet.

      It worked. And when I feel run down, or extra fatigued I still return to the diet for a week or more.

      I hope you are doing well.
      Peace and good health to you,

    1. Hi Annalise, I use an app on my Iphone. you can find more information about it on When I was flaring, I would be extremely strict to limit all inflammatory foods. Now, that I am stable and have not flared for quite a while, I have started introducing foods that are proven inflammatory such as wheat, dairy and rice. I still do not eat sugar. Good Luck.

  2. I am so thankful that I have stumbled upon your blog! I was diagnosed with AOSD this past February. I needed a push to get back on the wagon with the anti-inflammatory diet. I have been on steroids since February and will soon start 2.5 mg of prednisone daily—I hope to be off soon. I know the diet will help. I have read much of your blog tonight and felt “at home” with someone who knows and understands. Thank you so much

    1. Hi Patty, Thank you for finding my site. I am a true believer in the IF diet, as I have recently found out, too many days off of it has inflamed me. Time to get strict again. I hope you feel better. Thanks you again for finding my site. I will be blogging today of my recent travel experience and zero adherence to the IF diet 😦

    1. I will be adding an area in my blog anti-inflammatory diet section regarding salt. During the time I had to take high levels of steroids my face became very bloated also. By the second and third relapse 1 year apart, I had learned that watching my salt intake was a huge help to keep my face from getting so puffy. It still puffed up, but not as much. What I learned was that there were vegetables that I was eating that higher salt content, for example celery. So aside from staying away from all sugar, dairy, wheat, I also stayed away from heavy salty items. My doctor forgot to tell me about salt, this side effect that became an additional area of sadness for me. Although, it was not a time to being concerned about my looks! As I tapered down from the steroids to begin taking Methotrexate, the puffiness went down. I will be adding the new category about salty foods in the food area of my blog this evening. Sending good health thoughts to your wife.

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