If you’re looking to improve your health and lose weight, you’ve probably heard that you should follow an anti-inflammatory diet meal plan. But what does it mean to eat an anti-inflammatory diet? Let’s explore this diet, its benefits and some meal plans to help you get started.
Be sure to download our printable meal planner to make diet planning easier.
What Is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
The anti-inflammatory diet encourages you to eat foods that help fight inflammation caused by free radicals and avoid foods that can cause an inflammatory response.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injuries, infections and diseases. It plays an important role in healing. Once the problem has been resolved, inflammation disappears.
But if the inflammation becomes chronic (it doesn’t disappear), it can contribute to the development of disease.
Unlike other diets, the anti-inflammatory diet is pretty flexible. The most important thing is to ensure that you’re avoiding foods that can contribute to inflammation. You’re free to make up your own meal plans that your family loves. You just have to follow a few simple guidelines.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food List
When you’re on the anti-inflammatory diet meal plan, there are some foods that you should add to your diet and some that you should avoid.
Make sure that you’re including foods that are rich in:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can help fight inflammation, but they may also offer other health benefits, like:
- Supporting your eye health
- Supporting your cognitive function
- Helping reduce fat in your liver
Fatty fish are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines, anchovies and striped bass.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can get some omega-3s from:
- Chia seeds
- Algal oil
- Hemp seeds
- Kidney beans
Polyphenols are naturally found in plant-based foods, and they act as antioxidants by helping fight free radicals and inflammation. They can also help lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, improve brain function, improve digestion and more.
Foods that are high in polyphenols include:
- Leafy greens
- Olive oil
- Legumes (black beans, tofu, white beans, tempeh)
- Herbs and spices (basil, cloves, turmeric, ginger, marjoram, parsley, etc.)
- Tea (green or black)
- Chocolate (dark)
- Red wine
Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important source of polyphenols and will make up a large chunk of your anti-inflammatory diet.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that fights free radicals and inflammation. Many of the fruits and vegetables listed above are rich in vitamin C.
Other vitamin C-rich foods include:
- Citrus (oranges, lemons, grapefruits, etc.)
- Bell peppers
- Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, etc.)
- White potatoes
A healthy gut can also help fight against inflammation. Consuming prebiotics and probiotics can help restore the good gut in your bacteria.
Prebiotics from dietary fiber can help feed good bacteria, and probiotics can help increase levels of good bacteria.
Some foods to consider include:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, cottage cheese, gouda)
- Dandelion greens
- Konjac root
- Jicama root
Consuming these foods will help feed and repair your gut, which can also help you feel better overall.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Benefits
Is it worth it to follow the anti-inflammatory diet? There are many potential benefits of eating a diet that fights inflammation, including:
A Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease
One of the main benefits of following an anti-inflammatory diet is that it can help protect against chronic diseases, including:
- Metabolic disorder
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Some cancers (such as colorectal cancers)
Additionally, an anti-inflammatory diet may also improve the outcomes of chronic diseases if you already have them.
Pain is a common symptom of inflammation. Taking steps to reduce the inflammation in your body may consequently help reduce pain, whether caused by a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis or if you just suffer from chronic pain.
Best Anti-Inflammatory Diet Book
If you’re ready to give the anti-inflammatory diet a try, finding a good book is a great place to start. There are many books that can teach you more about this diet and provide some awesome meal plans to follow.
Some of the best anti-inflammatory books include:
- The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet Cookbook for Beginners
- The Anti-Inflammatory Kitchen: 150 Quick, Healthy and Easy Recipes
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet Cookbook for Beginners 2023
- Intermittent Fasting and Anti-inflammatory Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Sebi’s Alkaline and Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners
You can find many free books on Amazon with lots of anti-inflammatory recipes.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners
Looking for an anti-inflammatory diet meal plan for beginners? Here’s a great 3-day meal plan to start.
Green Smoothie & Pear
Greek Salad with Hummus & Walnuts
Salmon with Potatoes and Asparagus
Greek Yogurt with Fresh Blueberries and Chopped Walnuts; 1 Medium Apple
Peanut Chicken Zucchini Noodles, 1 Orange & Roasted Almonds
Stuffed Sweet Potato w/Hummus Dressing
Green Smoothie and Almonds
Smoky Sweet Potato Kale Salad with Ginger Dressing; 1 Medium Apple
Kale Quinoa Salad with Blueberries & 1-oz. Slice of Whole-Wheat Baguette
Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Weight Loss
Weight loss and the anti-inflammatory diet are two major topics of debate. If you’re retaining water and inflamed, you’re obviously going to weigh more than you would without the water bloat.
Studies show a direct link between:
- Weight gain
Inflammation can be caused by certain metabolic and hormonal changes, and they seem to persist until you lose weight.
Based on these findings, it’s safe to assume that if you reduce inflammation, it may be possible to also:
- Lose water weight because you’re holding on to fluids
- Reverse the impact inflammation has on key hormone markers, restoring your metabolism and allowing you to lose weight
We also know that weight gain and inflammation are linked to insulin resistance and leptin resistance.
Every diet you follow for true weight loss revolves around caloric intake. If you follow a meal plan that has fewer calories than you’re burning each day, you’ll be in a caloric deficit and lose weight. However, if you’re still consuming more calories than necessary to lose weight, you’ll remain the same weight or even gain weight.
If you do expel more water and curb the inflammation, you will lose this excess water weight and bloat – which can be substantial.
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan
Do you want to see a simple meal plan that you can build off of or follow? The following diet meal plans are great options:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are covered in this two-week plan. You’ll find plenty of unique food options:
- Oven-baked sweet crepes
- Matcha pancakes
- Mediterranean chicken wraps
- Chicken quinoa salad
- Black bean Buddha bowl
- Lemon chicken with asparagus
If you want a 1,200-calorie diet plan that follows the basic principles of the anti-inflammatory diet, this is a great option. You’ll find seven days’ worth of meals that you can choose from, including:
- Blueberry-banana overnight oats
- Walnut-rosemary crusted salmon
- Vegan superfood grain bowls
- Cocoa-chia pudding
- Tons more
Meal prep is the way to go if you want to follow the anti-inflammatory diet – or any diet. When you plan out your meals, you eliminate the excuses and will have a much easier time staying on track. This five-day plan offers options for:
- Turmeric chickpea and kale Buddha bowls
- Lemon ginger energy balls
- Green quinoa salad
- Plenty of other options
If you’re interested in plans that stretch for three weeks, then you’re going to love the section below.
21 Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet
A three-week plan is a great start for any diet or lifestyle change. You can create amazing meals that don’t get boring and cause you to divert from your diet. But you need a good starting point, and the following are great starting points:
21 Day Beginner Meal Plan
You have three meals to eat per day, and this diet plan has recipes for 21 breakfasts, lunches, dinners – and even snacks. The recipes are super simple and include delicious treats, such as:
- Pumpkin stuffed dough balls
- Turmeric chickpea burgers
- Lentil meatballs
- Quinoa power bowls
- Coconut flour pancakes
- Sweet potato cakes
- Dozens of other options
30-day Dinner Plan
While not a “21-day plan,” this one covers 30 days of great dinners for your anti-inflammatory diet. You can swap many of these dinners in for lunches, and there are delicious, substantial meals available, including:
- Dijon salmon with a scrumptious green bean pilaf
- Chicken quinoa fried rice
- Lemon chicken with kale and potatoes
- Vegan coconut chickpea curry
- Turkey stuffed peppers (cooked in an air-fryer)
If you’re trying to piece together your own meal plan and are stuck on lunches and dinners, these meals will help you create a plan that you can follow.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet meal plan has many health benefits and can help you start to feel your best. If you find a plan that works for you, follow it and modify it to fit your food preferences.