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32 Anti-Inflammatory Dinner Ideas (For When You’re Stuck)

Chronic inflammation is on the rise and contributes to health problems across the United States. In fact, studies suggest that over 34% of US adults have systemic inflammation. 

What’s causing these high numbers? 

Some key factors driving the rise in chronic inflammation include:

  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Exposure to environmental toxins

Essentially all the woes that plague American life. On the whole, we’re overweight, eating way too many processed foods, and much more sedentary than we should be. 

The good news is we can change it!

woman eating an anti-inflammatory dinner of roasted veggies
anti-inflammatory dinner ideas

What Is Inflammation and Why Is It Bad?

Inflammation in of itself is not bad. We need it. 

It’s the body’s natural response to protect itself against harm, including infections, injuries, and toxins. It’s an integral part of our ability to heal.

When something damages your cells, your body releases chemicals that trigger a response from your immune system, often causing redness, warmth, swelling, and pain in the affected area. This is acute inflammation at work – the body doing what it’s supposed to do. 

The problem occurs when your body enters into a persistent state of inflammation. This can happen because of our own poor choices or due to a medical reason like an autoimmune disorder.

At this point, inflammation starts to damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs, which leads to a whole host of issues and serious chronic conditions. 

So our goal, then, is to try to reduce chronic inflammation by improving the factors that are within our control. 

For now, let’s focus on diet – a big contributor to inflammation in our body, especially when our diet leaves much to be desired. 

Let’s tackle dinner first!

What Type of Foods Are Anti-Inflammatory?

The first step in planning out anti-inflammatory dinners is to map out the basics. Which foods are anti-inflammatory and how can you incorporate more of them into your meal planning? 

Equally important is understanding which types of foods are inflammatory. These are things you’ll want to avoid (to the greatest extent possible – no one’s perfect). 

The easiest way to think about anti-inflammatory food is to stick to the outer edges of the grocery store when shopping. This will limit your options to nutrient-rich, whole foods (things that aren’t packaged). 

Here’s a clear guide on what to fill your plate with:

Fruits and Vegetables: 

Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, fruits and veggies fight inflammation naturally. Look for colorful options like berries, leafy greens, and beets. It’s why so many health experts recommend “eating the rainbow.” 

  • Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, Swiss chard
fruits and vegetables
eat colorful fruits and vegetables

Healthy Fats: 

Healthy fats have omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, which help calm inflammation in your body. They do this by blocking the stuff that usually causes inflammation to flare up.They are essential for your brain and body. You can get healthy fat via:

  • Avocados and olive oil: rich in monounsaturated fats
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds

Omega-3 Rich Fish: 

Fish are another great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Opt for oily fish like:

  • Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies
cooked salmon with lemon

Whole Grains: 

Fiber-rich and full of nutrients, whole grains can help control blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory sources include:

  • Quinoa, brown rice, oats

Legumes: 

Legumes are high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants, which also makes them excellent for fighting inflammation.

  • Beans, lentils, chickpeas

Herbs and Spices: 

There are so many herbs and spices that offer significant anti-inflammatory effects. Look for recipes that incorporate any of the following:

  • Turmeric (especially with black pepper for absorption), ginger, garlic, cinnamon, sage, basil, cardamom, cayenne
herbs and spices

Foods to Minimize or Avoid:

  • Processed and fried foods
  • Sugary beverages and snacks
  • Red meat and processed meats
  • Trans fats found in margarine and some baked goods

When looking for recipes or thinking through dinner ideas, the name of the game is to include as many types of food from the anti-inflammatory list as possible, while minimizing ingredients that would fall on the “avoid” list. 

Simple in theory, but given our over-processed world, I know that it isn’t. 

Plus, you’re busy and don’t have time to scour the internet for recipes that tick these boxes, so I’ve done that for you! 

Bookmark this page in your recipes folder or save it to your Pinterest board so you have it the next time you’re meal planning for the week. 

32 Anti-Inflammatory Dinner Ideas

First, we’ll look at recipe ideas that are plant based and vegetarian. 

Even if you’re a proud omnivore, we could all stand to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in our diet, and having a plant-based dinner a few times a week is a great way to achieve that. 

Then, we’ll explore options that include fish, poultry, and meat.

Vegan and Vegetarian Anti-Inflammatory Dinner Recipes

Seafood Anti-Inflammatory Dinner Recipes

Poultry and Meat Anti-inflammatory Dinner Recipes

The Importance of Anti-Inflammatory Food for The Newly Sober

Anti-inflammatory food is important for everyone, and there is no shortage of lifestyle factors contributing to the rising rates of chronic inflammation. 

For me, the biggest contributor was years of heavy drinking, which led to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and ridiculously poor food choices. There’s a snowball effect to these things. 

Despite what some people may say about red wine, the truth is alcohol is very inflammatory to your body. 

When you quit drinking, you’ll eventually want to incorporate lifestyle changes that fuel your body’s healing process. 

Prioritizing good nutrition and focusing on anti-inflammatory foods is key. 

Heavy drinkers are notoriously nutrient deficient, especially in thiamine. Eating nutrient-dense food is one step towards repairing that damage. 

An anti-inflammatory diet has the added benefits of:

It’s not magical. One salad is not going to fix the myriad of problems years of problems poor lifestyle choices cause, but it is a step in the right direction. 

If you’re interested in improving your health and exploring ways that alcohol might be impeding that goal, visit the Soberish Sobriety Roadmap and Resource Center

I’ll also leave a quiz for you at the bottom of this article to help you assess your current drinking habits. 

Take the Audit

The following quiz is called the AUDIT, which is short for Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test. It’s used by medical professionals to assess your risk for alcohol dependence. Curious about how your drinking habits stack up? Take the assessment.

This is not an official medical diagnosis nor is it medical advice. Rather this is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions or concerns, share your results with your doctor.

Welcome to your Alcohol Use (AUDIT) quiz

1. 
1. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?

2. 
How many units of alcohol do you drink on a typical day when you are drinking?

A unit of alcohol is one standard drink. Examples of one standard drink include:

  • 12 oz can of beer with about 5% alcohol
  • 5 fl oz of wine (roughly 12% alcohol)
  • 1.5 fl oz shot of spirits like vodka, rum, or whiskey (about 40% alcohol)

3. 
How often have you had 6 or more units if female, or 8 or more if male, on a single occasion in the last year?

4. 
How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?

5. 
How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of drinking?

6. 
How often during the last year have you needed an alcoholic drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?

7. 
How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?

8. 
How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?

9. 
Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?

10. 
Has a relative or friend or a doctor or another health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?

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