6 cooking experts’ tips to help manage chronic inflammation

6 cooking experts’ tips to help manage chronic inflammation

The topic of inflammation is hot right now – pun intended. Some of us actively seek to enjoy meals rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients in hopes of avoiding inflammatory conditions in the future. But for others, there’s a growing awareness and understanding of inflammatory diseases like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, high blood pressure and diabetes and how food can help manage their symptoms — or cause a flare-up.

If you are cooking for someone with symptoms, you may be wondering how to do so safely. Because depending on the condition, they may avoid different foods, or nothing at all. To help you navigate these situations this holiday season and beyond, we asked several nutritionists and professional chefs with first-hand experience with inflammation for their best tips and advice so you can cook for your friends and family with care and confidence. .

What is inflammation?

“Many will think of inflammation as swelling or redness caused by injury or infection,” says Kanchan Koya, Ph.D., founder of Spice Spice Baby. “But there are also harmful conditions that can arise from chronic, low-grade inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract in humans,” she says. The list of conditions is long and includes high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Rheumatoid and other types of arthritis. Digestive problems such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); diabetes; Autoimmune disorders, including lupus and multiple sclerosis. And some types of cancer. Persistent inflammation can affect your energy, pain, mood, and more, as your immune system becomes overstimulated for long periods that can range from months to years.

According to the National Library of Medicine, experts expect cases of chronic inflammation to increase over the next 30 years. At the same time, awareness is growing. Robert Occhipinti shares, “Fifteen years ago, when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I couldn’t eat anywhere; There was no education on this topic. Now as chef and owner of Maldon & Mignonette on Long Island, he wants to make sure diners don’t feel the same way, saying he sees it as “a privilege and an opportunity to make people feel like there’s nothing wrong with them.”

Chef Joseph Gera was inspired by his own health battles to create KeyStoNe Cue, a line of gluten-free sauces, and From Scratch with Love, a cooking channel dedicated to helping people cook celiac-safe recipes. Celebrity chef Ming Tsai launched an entire company, MingsBings, to support his wife’s fight against cancer. “This diagnosis prompted my family to switch to a mostly plant-based diet in hopes of reducing inflammation by using food as medicine.”

Related: The health benefits of eating a plant-based diet

1. Ask questions

According to our experts, dealing with guests with inflammatory conditions isn’t as difficult as you might think. But since the ingredients that can cause inflammation are very personal, you shouldn’t make assumptions about what you can and can’t eat.

“It is important to note that individual responses to specific foods can vary and recommendations should be personalized based on each person’s unique health needs and tolerance,” says Kaitlyn I. Randall, MS, RDN, LD for WellTheory, a company that specializes in supporting people. With autoimmune conditions.

For example, some people with lupus or irritable bowel syndrome find it helpful to limit foods that are high FODMAP, a term used for short-chain sugars that are fermented by gut bacteria and may cause stomach problems. These include wheat- and rye-based products (gluten); Allium. cauliflower; mushrooms; dairy; Legumes. And some fruits such as apples, pears, dried fruits, stone fruits and watermelon. Other people find that consuming sweeteners or too much sodium can trigger a flare-up of symptoms.

RELATED: IBS Diet Plan: What to Include and What to Limit

Once you know what you could be “putting into your stomach,” just “be sure to read the labels,” Tsai advises. “Ingredients that can cause inflammation can be hidden in ingredient lists. For example, gluten is found in a lot of products that you might not suspect, like soy sauce or even fish sauce. This also means learning about alternative names for certain ingredients as well. For example For example, if your dinner guest avoids added sugar, 65 different methods can be listed, including sucrose or fructose.

2. Avoid cross-contamination

This is the first rule for chefs. “Cross-contamination in the kitchen is a big problem, and most people don’t really think about it,” says Gera. He admits it can be especially difficult for those who cook for people with celiac disease, like himself, since “wheat-based breads and flours are everywhere.”

His advice is to treat gluten — or any ingredient your guest finds interesting — like any potential bacteria-carrying ingredient. This is crucial because, says Occhipinti, “I’ve been to places where people had to run to the bathroom within 20 minutes because of cross-contamination.” His advice: “Always wash your hands. Know that if you use one tool, do not put it in another dish. Don’t put bread anywhere near anything else. If people have specific allergies, use a separate cutting board designated just for them.

3. Use smart bartering

“There are a lot of ingredient substitutes now,” says Occhipinti. A lot has changed in a positive way since I started cooking for inflammation. Gluten-free pasta, alternative flours, whole grain products, less refined sweeteners, and healthy fats are more readily available today.

He turns to rice flour for baking ingredients and thick sauces, and loves to get creative with vegetables. “Make zucchini ribbons with basil pesto and you’ll have a great ‘pasta’ dish. For dairy-free mashed potatoes, use mustard, mayonnaise and garlic.” Gerra, who avoids dairy, is a fan of olive oil-based vegan butter, saying it has “all the goodness of Olive oil (healthy) has the same properties as butter.”

For inflammatory conditions where complex carbohydrates are preferred, such as diabetes or arthritis, “it can be as simple as switching to 100% whole-grain bread or pasta,” Koya says. Quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat are some of Randall’s favorite gluten-free alternatives to simple carbs.

Tsai encourages you to get creative: “Try making a vegetable pot pie and replacing the pastry crust with a gluten-free panko topping! You can toast the panko in olive oil to create a delicious, crunchy topping.”

4. Spice things up

The jars in your spice cabinet are more than just a way to add flavor to dishes, many of them have anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Koya suggests incorporating anti-inflammatory spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and cardamom to “add flavor and excitement while also providing inflammation-calming benefits.” Ground red pepper, rosemary, and turmeric also have anti-inflammatory properties. Stir cardamom, ginger and cinnamon into a bowl of morning oatmeal, make whipped cream spiced with cardamom or cinnamon to add to desserts or add some chopped fresh rosemary to a salad dressing.

“Expand your spice profile beyond black pepper, and use natural garlic, chopped onions, thyme, tarragon, basil, coriander…use the garden in your cooking and the flavors will multiply!” Tsai suggests. He also offers this pro tip: “Cook with acids like lemon juice, lime juice, and vinegar to amplify flavors instead of salt.”

Related: 9 Easy Ways to Cut Sodium in Your Diet

5. Prioritize whole foods

The more processed your food is, the more likely it is to contain traces of wheat or excess sodium and sugar. Preparing meals around whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces this risk. Additionally, many whole foods have anti-inflammatory properties, such as sweet potatoes, berries, avocados, beets, tomatoes, nuts, leafy greens, fatty fish, and more, and are often listed among the best foods for fighting inflammation. For an easy weeknight meal, try tossing baked sweet potatoes with black beans, salsa, and cheese. Or if you typically serve roast beef or pork at a dinner party, try cooking a side of salmon instead. A massaged coleslaw is a welcome addition to any meal, whether casual or fancy.

6. Provide various options

You don’t necessarily have to look for recipes that accommodate inflammation, but rather adjust your plan. For example, “If you’re grilling steaks, consider having salmon skewers or black bean veggie burgers ready as well,” Koya suggests. You could also set up a salad bar for your guests so they have their choice of toppings and sauce.

Randall adds that simply offering variety — some gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or vegetarian options — can easily meet everyone’s needs. This can be simplified by preparing some items in advance. Then, “clearly label these dishes with their ingredients to help guests with dietary restrictions easily determine what they can and cannot eat.” This way everyone can enjoy the meal you have prepared without any embarrassment and with a lot of gratitude for your concern.


Koya puts it best: “There’s a common misconception that anti-inflammatory diets are boring and dull, but nothing could be further from the truth!” Simple and creative swaps can make traditional favorites exciting and unique, and choosing to prepare dishes with inflammation allergies in mind can help. everyone of your guests eating healthy, feeling better, and having a good time at your gathering.

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