By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer
Looking for an anti-inflammatory meal plan? Today, Jessica has you covered!
A few times a year, my husband and I go to bed with a lump in our throats. We listen over the monitor for one of the coughing spells to hit and then crouch by our son's bed to administer albuterol in the darkness of night.
My husband and I both had asthma as children, and our united genes produced an unlucky jackpot of sorts for our little son Sam. (He's the same kid with the scary food allergies...he sure keeps us on our knees!)
We've learned a lot in four years about how to treat our little guy. One of the biggest revelations was the effect of foods on asthma. From here, I decided it was a must for me to create an anti-inflammatory meal plan.
The first time I realized this was years ago, before I had all this healthy living stuff figured out. I was a young mom, and, at the time, my son was coughing and sick with a cold.
Remember, I was new to this whole thing, so don't judge me too harshly. But that day, I had lugged my sick son into the store for some forgotten item. For a snack while shopping, I fed him fruit snacks: dye-infested and high-fructose-corn-syrup-ridden gummies.
So many things wrong with this, I know.
Within a matter of minutes, he was coughing intensely and struggling to catch his breath. I actually had to leave my groceries in the cart and drive to our doctor's office for an emergency asthma treatment. Keep in mind - he was not "allergic" to anything in the fruit snacks. But something was obvious:
Foods can aggravate asthma.
As the years passed (and I grew in my natural, whole-foods journey), I began digging further. If some foods make asthma worse, couldn't some also help it?
I loved the article here on "How We Reversed Asthma Symptoms in Our Family." I devoured that post and began researching anti-inflammatory foods, foods which may reduce inflammation in the body. Maybe you're familiar with this list.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- berries and grapes
- nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds
- nutbutters (made from the above nuts)
- extra-virgin olive oil
- sweet potatoes
- seafood high in Omega-3s, such as salmon, tuna and cod
- hemp seeds and flax seeds
- spices, such as garlic and ginger
- turmeric (which you can add to chicken broth or sprinkle over roasted vegetables)
Some foods are actually inflammatory, which means they increase inflammation in the body. (Think: that yucky "food" I fed my son in the store that provoked an asthma attack.)
Here are some inflammatory foods:
- high-fructose corn syrup
- sunflower, safflower and corn oil
- fatty meats
- conventional eggs
- dairy products
- aspartame, MSG and food dyes
- any food you to which you are allergic or intolerant
Once I had my list of foods that Sam should and shouldn't be eating, the wheels started turning in my head. Could I put these foods together to come up with a meal plan, one even kids might enjoy?
This little challenge had a familiar ring to it. Because my son's diet is already limited by frighteningly severe food allergies, I've become a master at creating a yummy, balanced diet on limited foods.
I tried to create a meal plan that would nourish my son yet not irritate his asthma. And a distant hope was that he'd actually eat and enjoy these meals! Here's what I came up with:
Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan
- Berry Oatmeal with coconut milk
- Dairy-free Smoothie (with added flax seed oil)
- All-natural turkey sausage
- Eggs fortified with Omega-3
- Skinless grilled chicken breast
- Homemade hummus
- Fruit salad with berries, kiwi, and citrus
- 15-minute salmon cakes & homemade sweet potato fries
- Sausage, Pepper, and Potato Bake (use all-natural chicken sausage and sweet over white potatoes)
- Gluten-free, egg,-free, dairy-free cornbread & Ground Turkey Chili (add some homemade bone broth in the chili for added healing!)
- Southwest-Topped Sweet Potatoes (use ground chicken or turkey)
- Roasted Chicken in the Crock Pot, served with Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
- Breaded oven-baked cod served with roasted butternut squash sprinkled with tumeric
- Almonds or sunflower seeds
- "Ants on a log" - Banana or celery topped with almond or sunflower butter
- Homemade Applesauce
- Fruits, especially berries and kiwi
- Tons of water! I believe that staying well-hydrated has helped my son for sure.
- Warm chamomile tea: For kids, prepare tea normally, stirring in honey, and then add a few ice cubes to bring to a warm temperature.
Do we eat like this all the time?
Not exactly. When my son's asthma is under control (which is 95% of the time) we do eat red meat and sugar once in a while. I try to include as many anti-inflammatory foods as I can, though. And when my son's asthma begins to flare, it's back to the plan.
But what if you have a picky eater?
I'm not here to solve the world's problems in a day, but I highly recommend these excellent thoughts on "Winning the Mealtime Battle." Wise advice!
And one final disclaimer:
Although I've come a long way in treating asthma naturally, I have to confess that, at times asthma can feel like a wild animal that I can't quite tame.
To me, it's been (yet another) reminder that parenting can feel terrifying, and as much as I'd like to think I can fix everything, I cannot. If you've ever felt baffled and desperate seeking natural cures for your little ones...I know how that feels. Personally, I take comfort in being reminded that there is someone who cares for my little ones more than I do!
Do you struggle with asthma in your family? What natural aids have helped?