My Anti-Inflammatory Diet

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was dealing with a recurring health issue, so I wanted to give you an update on that and tell you about how I’m handling it.

To be honest, the last month has been a real doozy for me physically and emotionally. I’ve already talked about my anxiety spiking, and a big part of that has to do with this issue.

Based on what I’ve been going through, I’ve been on an anti-inflammatory diet through eliminating certain foods, adding others in, and taking a bunch of supplements. I thought I’d share both that diet and my story in hopes that I might help anyone else with inflammation of any kind.

But first, let me back up…

Eight or nine years ago, I lost my sense of smell for a year. Because smell and taste are so closely related, I also couldn’t taste anything. And it started to become hard for me to breathe at all through my nose.

At the time, I was so into my holistic lifestyle that I stupidly never even considered going to the doctor. Instead I went to a homeopath (who was amazing) and through six months of supplements and diet change, I actually got my sense of smell and taste back about 50% of the time, but it still wasn’t great.

This all sounds like not that big of a deal, right? I wasn’t in any pain and could live my life normally. While all of that was true, it was really frustrating. I found that I ended up overeating because I wanted to taste so badly, and the breathing became a serious issue, especially at nighttime. I would wake up constantly, short of breath.

Finally by some stroke of luck I made a friend, who, when I told her about my problem, didn’t miss a beat and said that I had nasal polyps. Polyps, for those of you who don’t know, are benign growths that grow in your nose and sinuses, blocking your airways. Sexy, right? I called an ENT that day.

After confirming my friend’s diagnosis, he put me on Prednisone for two weeks. It worked and I could breathe and smell for the first time in what felt like forever! I remember tearing up walking past the flowers outside of the bodegas in the city (where I still lived) because I could actually smell them.

But then they popped back up within a week and I was back where I started. So I had the surgery which was incredibly painful, and forever changed my dreams of getting a nose job!

During my follow up appointment, my doctor told me that the polyps were a form of chronic inflammation and that it would be a problem for the rest of my life.

But I was young and could finally breathe and smell, so I didn’t really pay much attention to him. Since then, I hadn’t had any problems, just more congestion and sinus infections than most people.

Until last month….

Back to present day.

One morning last month, out of nowhere, I couldn’t hear out of my right ear. It was totally clogged up and I was super dizzy. I thought maybe it was a sinus infection or something so I waited a week and it got worse and worse. At one point I was so dizzy that I was scared to hold the baby standing up.

At that moment, I made my first ENT appointment in eight years. After a hearing test (I failed in one ear) and a bunch of other tests, she finally looked up my nose (again, so sexy) and saw that my polyps were back. I was not expecting that…

I immediately burst into tears (so embarrassing), and all of my emotions from the first time around came back. I can’t explain why this is so difficult for me but my new therapists insists that losing any of your senses is a trauma (first taste and smell and now hearing).

I started a round of Prednisone again and, like last time, the polyps disappeared. While I was taking them, I realized how hard it had been to breathe for the last few months. I finally wasn’t congested and I felt so much better. Within one day of being on meds, I could hear again and wasn’t dizzy at all.

But last week my ear clogged up again so I went back in.

Again, like last time, they came back within a week. Ugh. So now I’m on stronger steroids in hopes that I won’t have to have surgery again.

So here’s what I’m doing to avoid surgery…

When I first worked with that homeopath in the city and shrunk the polyps by 50%, he had me on a super strict diet where I couldn’t eat any gluten, dairy, sugar, or alcohol… for six months. It helped a lot but I was miserable.

Anel and I started dating during that time, and on one of our first dates he took me to eat a bagel just to prove that I wouldn’t explode or something. I mean can you tell why I married the guy?

I am much less congested without any dairy and gluten, and when I drink, I can’t breathe through my nose at all… Although tequila and vodka don’t seem to bother me as much.

So I’m trying to stick to the rules below without making myself insane.

A fun side effect is that I’ve lost the end of my baby weight! Within two weeks of starting this, people kept asking me what I did to lose weight and complimenting me on my glowing skin. That kind of makes up for the fact that I can’t have a glass of wine when I want one.

My anti-inflammatory diet…

Eliminate:
Gluten
Dairy
Added sugar
Fried foods
Peanuts
Alcohol
Caffeine (except one mug of green tea/day)

Add more:
Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli)
Fiber (I add flax and chia seeds to everything I can)
Garlic, onion, scallions, leeks
Fish
Healthy fats (avocado, nuts, olive oils)
Turmeric
Ginger
Dark leafy greens (kale, chard, etc)

Supplements (in addition to my multivitamin):
Fish oil (high in Omega-3s)
Probiotics
Curcumin (the chemical in turmeric that has anti-inflammatory properties)
Goldenseal
Alpha-Lipoic Acid
Vitamin D

I don’t know for how long I’ll be doing this, but I’ll keep you guys posted. For now, it makes me feel better but it’s also a giant pain in the butt. I’m just hoping that it helps enough to avoid another surgery!

Update: After a ton of emails and Instgram messages suggesting The Whole30 diet, I’m looking into it and might take it on with Anel sometime in the next month. We’re nervous but excited about how it will make us feel.

J.Crew Factory Striped Tank / Mott & Bow Jeans / Sam Edelman Pumps / Baublebar Earrings c/o

J.Crew Factory Striped Tank / Mott & Bow Jeans / Sam Edelman Pumps / Baublebar Earrings c/o

Photos by Carter Fish.

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  1. Lillie said:

    I hate this for you! About 13 years ago my mom was diagnosed with sinus cancer. The resulting surgery and radiation treatments left her with 3rd degree burns in her mouth and sinuses. It also burned out the fat in her ears,which is essential for hearing. She has lost major hearing, sight and taste. She does ok, but it’s a real quality of life issue. I hope you find healing. I really want to see you with a second baby. 😉

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’m so sorry for your mom. That sounds terrible. I’m glad she’s ok but I’m sure the quality of life issue isn’t great. Sending her so much light and love xx

      4.2.18 · Reply
  2. Ryann Carter said:

    I have followed the anti-inflammatory diet in the past, and still use it as a guide because I have Crohn’s and just a high level of inflammation in my body. The big key is when you decide to cheat, make sure you also eat something super anti-inflammatory. Like you really want some ice cream, make sure to precede that with dark greens or even curry. The anti-inflammatory diet is more about balance than restriction, but when you have more inflammation in your body like you and me, you have to lean more towards restriction than an easy balance.
    http://www.holycitylife.com

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      That is a great tip thank you so much! What about adding more of the supplements when I cheat? Or does the food seem to help more?

      4.2.18 · Reply
  3. Colleen Oksen said:

    I have rheamatiod arthritis and this is the way I eat too. Also to eleminate inflammation. It is difficult. I end up eating lots of salad and chicken. But I feel so much better! Keep it up!

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      It really makes a difference right? If you have any recipes that you love, please share them!

      4.2.18 · Reply
      • Natalie said:

        Just wanted to comment that I’d love a post on recipe ideas using anti-inflammatory foods.

        4.2.18 · Reply
  4. Kate said:

    First time commenter here. I don’t have polyps, but tons of sinus related issues. I lost my hearing for the second time in my life this month due to a blocked Eustachian tube. It’s awful to lose a sense. It is so dostracting. I get extreme vertigo, and horrible tinnitus, then lose my hearing for weeks. I definitely cry, a lot. It’s like my life just has to come to a stop. I also have inflammation and a similar diet, looking forward to see how you do with this!

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Kate I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope that you find something that helps because I can’t even imaging living like that forever. Stay positive and keep doing what you’re doing!

      4.2.18 · Reply
  5. Lauren said:

    Julia,

    I’m sure you’ve heard this already, but I believe steroids can cause anxiety to flare up in many people. Sometimes knowing the cause of anxiety can be helpful in tackling it. I have so much respect for you opening up about your journey!

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Yes for sure! As soon as I started my first round it got much worse. It gave me terrible insomnia too!!

      4.2.18 · Reply
  6. Lisa said:

    Hang in there! Sounds like it has not been your best couple of months health wise, but that you are taking the right steps to get yourself back on track.

    As a fellow anxiety sufferer – do you ever feel like you shouldn’t have had kids because you have anxiety? I most certainly am not suggesting that you shouldn’t have – you seem like a great mom! I’m currently pregnant with a very much wanted pregnancy (like you it took us a while to conceive), but as my due date gets closer I’m kind of starting to freak out and often have moments where i think ‘should we really be having kids’ – i don’t my anxiety to get in the way of being a good parent and i dont want my kids to suffer from anxiety too!

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Hi Lisa! I’m so sorry to hear that you suffer from anxiety too. I’m telling you the second that baby comes out, you will turn into a different person. I have awful anxiety about everything but when I’m with my baby it disappears (unless she’s really sick or something, but the anxiety is more “normal” according to my therapist).

      I’d say as long as you’re cognizant of it and keep seeing a therapist or working on it as best as you can, you will be fine. Becoming a mother is amazing, I’m so excited for you!

      4.2.18 · Reply
  7. Allie said:

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers that you don’t need surgery again. I know first hand how terrible sinus problems are; still so frustrating because you feel like your body doesn’t have your back against the environment! Good luck and warm wishes, xAllie http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

    4.2.18 · Reply
  8. Megan said:

    Anti inflammatory diet is great! I did the whole 30 a year ago and it was amazing. I have auto-immune issues and should probably start it again. I am also doing TCM supplements to try and improve or rebalance
    my immunity.

    So glad you are feeling better!

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      So many people are suggesting Whole30 that I think I might do it! Nervous but excited for it

      4.2.18 · Reply
  9. Victoria said:

    A couple years ago I was diagnosed with early stage adrenal fatigue. The doc had me try a bunch of supplements and do Whole 30 and it totally reset my system — I felt like a new woman! I still take a whole host of anti-inflammatory supplements now and I find it really helps.

    In addition to fish oil (make sure it’s one with high high levels of EPA), I also take borage oil, which is also high in omegas. There are also a bunch of adaptogens I have on hand, but they’re specifically for stress response (adrenal response, cortisol output, etc)…LMK if you want me to send you the names!

    4.2.18 · Reply
  10. Robin said:

    I hope you feel better ASAP!! You look gorgeous!!

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks so much Robin!

      4.2.18 · Reply
  11. Jessica said:

    It’s so crazy what you learn to live with and then realize you’ve been suffering! I have bad allergies and the second I have a glass one wine I can’t breathe out of my nose. It’s the worst! Good luck and keep on it! xo

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      The worst! And who wants to live without wine?!?

      4.2.18 · Reply
  12. Amanda Wendel said:

    Thank you so much for sharing!! I also have similar issues with sinuses (no lose of taste or smell) but so much pressure in my ears and sinuses that sometimes makes me
    So dizzy and just feel out of it!! I am willing to give this “diet” a try and see if it helps me. My ent hasn’t given me many options except a CT scan of my sinuses ‍♀️I also suffer from anxiety but I sometimes feel like I have anxiety bc of the way o feel, ya know?!

    4.2.18 · Reply
  13. laura said:

    guuurl, that is a lot, but one tiny tweak worth mentioning, probiotics are often dairy based. you might switch to a vegan probiotic to give you that extra little boost. the good news is you’re going to live forever! xox

    4.2.18 · Reply
  14. JRB said:

    Interesting! I get nasal polyps too and had them removed a few years ago, in addition to opening my sinuses and having a deviated septum fixed. The dr said I had the most polyps he had ever seen. I hadn’t been able to smell for years. (Side note: my surgery recovery was actually a breeze…maybe look into a different surgeon if you decide to go that route again.) But like you, they come back from time to time and I take prednisone to get rid if them. It ended up being a weird effect of pregnancy too. My doctor has me add Flonase to daily sinus rinses for prevention, but that doesn’t always work. I don’t know if I’m ready for such a restrictive diet though! I do have arthritis as well, so I’m sure it would help all around. But I love food!!

    4.2.18 · Reply
  15. Hillary said:

    I’ve had the polyp surgery twice- I am so sorry you had a flare up! I know how much that stinks, and the steroids always make my anxiety worse, so I hope you haven’t had any issues with that. My sinus surgeon thankfully is really into integrative medicine, and has not only been supportive of my anti-inflammatory diet, but a huge advocate of it (why I drove to NYC to see him when we lived in Old Greenwich). I know it sucks, but stick with it! It works 🙂 I’ve also forgot my MCT oil and bone broth to be really helpful. Good luck!!!

    4.2.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Ugh I’m so sorry. It’s not fun. And same with anxiety/steroids. They make it like 10x worse! Will try MCT and bone broth, thank you!

      4.3.18 · Reply
    • Sarah said:

      Hi Hillary, would you mind sharing your doctors name? I am based in NYC and actually need sinus surgery so I’d love to get his or her opinion! Thanks 🙂

      4.24.18 · Reply
  16. Amanda said:

    And don’t short change the stress. The stress is adding to the inflammation and responses your body is having. During a very rough, stressful year last year and part of this, I had very sensitive hearing that would come and go, came down w strep throat in June, and my body responded with a gutate psoriasis that I’m still battling… Because the stressful year was involving 4 kids (2 year old twin boys to boot) two moves, a new home construction work project, a rental, renovations in a new home that were on a strict time frame due to availability, some martial issues… it was something I couldnt just take a break from. The demand was constant and I knew I needed to push through to get these things off my plate. So the stress would stop. It left me in a horrible state. I had a major anxiety attack February 14th of this year. When it became blaringly obvious that I couldn’t take anymore. My heart rate would spike at random times (driving with my kids in the car) and my body just couldn’t cope. All this to say, the stress and pressure play such a huge role in this. I deal w inflammation too. So I feel in in a very similar boat as you. Just wanted to reach out and let’s you know the importance of stress and anxiety on your body. I have most all off my plate now and am slowly getting better. Also bc the severe heart rate spikes I do take an anti anxiety. But I also use supplements for @tawrevelations! They’re amazing! A very holistic approach to aiding in diet, inflammation and stress! You can reach out to them for advice on what to purchase! They’ve been a life saver to me! Literally!
    Wishing you rest, peace, and healing!

    4.2.18 · Reply
  17. Emily said:

    I am so sorry to hear how much you’re struggling with this! It is also so inspiring to see your determination to be healthy. In terms of the Whole 30, my mom does it and she really likes the foods she gets to eat on it. And since you completely eliminate so many things (sugar, gluten, etc), my mom doesn’t actually crave them. In terms of anti-inflammatory diets, it might be helpful to see an allergist. A family friend of mine had problems with inflammation, which was causing her pain, especially in her hands (problem bc she’s a dentist). She got a whole list of things she’s ~slightly~ allergic/sensitive to (nightshade, gluten, sugar, some spices… about 30 foods in total) and by avoiding those things, her inflammation is much better. That is very restrictive and drastic, but if your problems continue that might be able to help too!

    4.2.18 · Reply
  18. Kim Boyer said:

    I’m new to your blog and Instagram….I just want you to know how sorry I am Julia that you have gone through so much! I can’t even imagine what it would be like to not have taste or smell! I really believe your new diet is going to help you! I have Hashimotos and Vitiligo (both autoimmune immune disorders). I’m much older than you but I didn’t really start getting with the program until I was 50…I’m 55 now. I read a lot on integrative health and find it all so interesting and helpful! I regret not starting earlier in my life. I found it helpful to get tested by a Dr. who is trained in Functional medicine because they test you differently than traditional MDs. For two months I was on an elimination diet to see what was causing my inflammation. I also read Dr. Steven Gundry’s book on Lectins and eliminated those from my diet. There are so many Dr.’s who just want to treat your symptoms but not the root causes. I still keep my endocrinologist but I really trust my Functional Dr. for her whole body approach to healing. Somethings you may want to try for calming you down that I’ve found helpful are infrared saunas. I also like Doterra essential oils for a variety of things. I take ashawanga which helps me stay calm. I also take a variety of other supplements too. I juice often and each week I roast a variety of raw nuts…a mixture my husband and I enjoy in replace of cereal with (my new favorite) macadamia nut milk. Keeping my house free of harmful chemicals, using organic skin care products, makeup, eating organic, Grassfed meat, etc., all these things I’ve gradually changed over the years because I believe it can all help In our healing process.
    I wish you the best with your new diet… You have such a great style, you’re SO talented! Thank you for sharing all of your beautiful posts and your adorable baby too!❤️Kim

    4.2.18 · Reply
  19. Keri williams said:

    I’m literally trying not to cry as I read this. My doctor has been working with me for over a year now, telling me all about this inflammatory diet and how I need to be eating and living my life 100% gluten and dairy free. I can tell you she might as well he talking to a toddler! I have cried and pitched a fit and felt so betrayed by my own body. I’ve had acne, severe anxiety, been over weight, tired, constipated, etc. due to my diagnosis of Hoshimoto’s. I’ve had one foot in and one foot out for so long and I have been able to lose about 40 lbs but I need to do what you are doing and commit fully to this way of life. As silly as it sounds it just seems so overwhelming and hard. I could literally lay on the floor and kick and scream because I just don’t want to give up all the yummy things I love. Good luck to you my friend and thank you for inspiring me to give this new way of life my all! Xo

    4.3.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I don’t think it sounds silly at all. It IS overwhelming and hard. It’s a huge lifestyle change, and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed with that. Hang in there!!! We’re in it together xo

      4.3.18 · Reply
  20. Catherine Schultz said:

    Hi Julia, wondering what Curcumin you use? Thank you!

    4.3.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      The brand is Jarrow Formulas and they have it on Amazon!

      4.3.18 · Reply
  21. Ashley said:

    This is so helpful – thank you for sharing. Would you mind sharing a few meal examples of what you eat while doing your best to stick with this?

    4.3.18 · Reply
  22. margo said:

    Hi Julia
    Thank you for today’s post. I also cope with on going anxiety so I really appreciate your sharing some of your experiences. While not related, I’m currently on anti-inflammatory meds for my ankle. I might try the diet you shared. I really hope your sinus issues clear up. About a decade ago I was constantly on anti-biotics for sinus infections due to a deviated septum and one nasal passage that was smaller than the other plus, if ‘I’m being honest, constant, severe stress. Once things settled down in my personal life the infections gradually subsided. PS Your daughter is so cute. Clearly your a good mom and happier are days are ahead.

    4.3.18 · Reply
  23. MarciaMarciaMarcia said:

    I feel for you. I have two autoimmune disorders as well as anxiety issues, and sometimes it is just HARD. I have been off gluten for 6 years (thanks celiac) so I don’t find that one so tough. One thing I’ll mention that no one else seems to have brought up, is that most anti-inflammatory diets don’t eliminate nightshades, but those can be major source of inflammation if you’re sensitive to them (as I am). Nightshades include potatoes (not sweet), tomatoes, peppers (sweet and spicy ones), and eggplant, as well as some other stuff like goji berries and ashwaganda (a super trendy adaptogen). For me, eliminating those does made more difference than alcohol, sugar, dairy, and anything other than gluten. Just something you might want to look into if you haven’t yet. Good luck and I hope you feel better!

    4.10.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I tried eliminating nightshades and actually felt no difference… Because I love tomatoes so much I decided to keep those in but avoid eggplant and peppers. I’ve heard of a lot of people who say that helps though so maybe I should go cold turkey there too!

      4.10.18 · Reply