Joe Locascio also introduced me to the concept of the anti-inflammatory diet, which I embraced, and had a lot of success with. In very basic terms, when the body digests foods, the process of breaking those foods down creates an inflammatory process in your body. The body systems have to “rise to the occasion” and address the food that has been ingested, and this causes a chain reaction which results in this inflammatory process. However, all foods are not created equal, and there are certain foods that cause more inflammation than others - and there are good reasons to avoid them, to be easier on your body, your brain, and to result in less overall built-up fluid (inflammation). The foods that create the most inflammation are all grains (wheat, corn, oats, rice, etc), sugars, and ALL processed foods. It may sound impossible to completely avoid these items, but it’s not, and the more you can cut these out, the easier it is on your body, which means that your brain can focus on healing, battling your pain, and staying in a relaxed state. In addition to avoiding the foods that cause increased inflammation, you can add foods to your diet that are high in brain boosting nutrients, and promote healing.
In the first nine months of training and changing the way I ate, I lost 50 pounds, and completely changed physically. At the time, I wasn’t strong enough to do much physically, so the results I had were largely due to the changes in how I ate. The biggest improvement I saw was in my overall energy levels, and how I feel generally. The biggest surprise was that once I learned how to eat, I was not restricting how much I ate - If anything, I was eating more. But I was eating differently.
Weight loss aside, the main reason we adopted this way of eating, was to assist my body systems in the recovery and quick healing from the many surgeries I’ve had. Over time and with the help of nutritional experts, we have been able to come up with specific variations to assist with different phases of recovery that I go through with every surgery — from foods that assist with the healing of wounds, to foods that help me regain energy and stamina after anesthesia.
The easiest version of an anti-inflammatory diet to follow and get information about is the Paleo diet. There are endless websites, blogs, and Instagram accounts to follow that make the Paleo lifestyle accessible and easy to manage. I have been blessed to have received help and encouragement from several nationally known Paleo authors and bloggers, and I’m happy to share their resources (see "Resources" page).