When you are in pain and fatigued, finding foods that are both nourishing and easy to prepare is particularly essential.
When I had a terrible psoriatic arthritis flare during a week that my husband was traveling for work, I found myself worried and alone.
With pain in my feet and hands, cooking meals from scratch presented a bit of a problem. I couldn’t stand on my feet for more than 10 minutes at a time, and it was excruciating to use my hands to grip, pinch, pull, or try to open anything like a jar.
I started looking for healthy foods that would help tamp down inflammation and that were also easy to cook and prepare.
When you’re in pain and fatigued, nourishing foods that are easy to prepare become especially essential. With that in mind, here are the foods that I always have on hand in my fridge, freezer, and pantry for when a PsA flare strikes.
When you live with arthritis, your body experiences chronic inflammation, which can lead to long-term damage. Antioxidants work to reduce oxidative stress in your body that an often accompany chronic inflammation.
Studies have shown that people with arthritis have a lower antioxidant status than others without arthritis. Beyond this, those with low antioxidant status also reported higher disease activity and longer flare-ups.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of antioxidants, but it can be difficult to eat enough produce. These are some of my go-to options for making sure I am getting enough fruits and vegetables in my diet, even during a flare:
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential healthy fats that have a well-known reputation for their anti-inflammatory properties.
In a recent study, participants with obesity who took flaxseed flour saw a decrease in the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A. Similarly, participants with overweight who took EPA and DHA supplements for 6 weeks experienced a decrease in CRP levels.
Another study found that after taking an omega-3 supplement for 24 weeks, participants with PsA experienced a decrease in joint tenderness and redness, inflammatory activity, and need for over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, if you’re like me, you may not feel up to grilling a plank of salmon when you’re in the midst of a flare-up.
Instead, I always keep these omega-3 rich foods on hand:
Eating whole grains is a great way to get more nutrients and healthy fiber in your diet.
Because whole grains are digested slowly, they’re less likely to cause spikes in your blood sugar and insulin levels. Whole grains are generally lower in their glycemic levels as well.
In a recent study, participants who ate foods with a higher glycemic index also saw an increase in inflammation marker levels. Those who ate a lower glycemic diet saw a decrease in inflammation activity.
Other research notes that there may be a link between insulin resistance, obesity, and chronic inflammation. For this reason, it’s a good idea for people living with PsA to be mindful of their weight and blood sugar levels.
There’s some evidence that patients with psoriasis or PsA could be at increased risk for celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and vice versa. The National Psoriasis Foundation reported that up to 1 in 4 people with psoriasis may also have a gluten sensitivity.
I always keep the following easy-to-prepare whole grain options around:
In addition to omega-3 rich foods, there are many other healthy proteins that don’t promote inflammation.
Eating more plant proteins and dairy proteins can help support your metabolism without increasing inflammation. To make sure I am getting enough protein in my diet without red meat, I always have some of the following foods in my home:
Finally, don’t forget to use your tools. There are a lot of handy kitchen gadgets and tricks that can make putting a healthy meal together during a flare much less painful.
I often find myself depending on electric can openers, scissors to open packages and even to cut up food, rice cookers, and other appliances that make my life just a little bit easier.
When you’re dealing with the pain and fatigue of a flare-up, prioritizing nutrition can feel near impossible. It’s important to remember that with diet and nutrition, small changes can make a big difference.
Finding a couple go-to meal ideas to start with can help make eating well during a flare-up much less intimidating.
Article originally appeared on November 11, 2021 on Bezzy’s sister site, Healthline. Last fact checked on November 9, 2021.
Fact checked on November 11, 2021
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