Anti-Inflammation Hack: Love Yourself
With all the health gurus and influencers promoting hacks for anti-inflammation, this part of the story is really important because nuance matters.
The next time you come across an influencer du jour promoting the latest food trend touting it's anti-inflammatory capabilities, put your critical thinking cap on. One 2018 study found that body dissatisfaction may play a role in the development of chronic disease and may lead to increased levels of circulating inflammatory biomarkers. In other words, eating "healthy"—with a side of body dissatisfaction—in the name of anti-inflammation isn't healthy at all especially if your "healthy" food choices are rooted in "I'm not good enough." Yes, the population studied in this group was small, and more research is needed, but I'm so glad this study has gotten this very important conversation started! If you're a budding researcher, consider building on this one.
Here's where the rubber hits the road: the "healthfulness" of an anti-inflammatory regimen isn't healthy if it is rooted in exacerbating your body image struggles. When someone proclaims that following their particular food plan will lead to weight loss, they are unintentionally undoing any positive effect of the "healthy" eating by promoting body dissatisfaction in you. Any food plan that tells you anything other than your body is beautiful, wonderful, worthy of care and respect, etc. isn't very health-promoting at all. And the beautiful thing is: your weight has little to do with your health. You can engage in health-promoting behaviors right here, right now—regardless of your weight. And, even if your weight doesn't shift as a result of you making those changes, markers of your health status can still improve independent of weight shifts.
The experience of guilt and stress about your body and your food is far worse for you than any food could ever be. Working on developing a neutral, kind or even positive relationship with your body is just as (or more) important than the food you eat.
If you struggle with body image: this is NOT intended to pile on more shame or guilt about your struggle. I see you, I think you're doing great and you are definitely not alone. My hope in this post is to show you that working on body image is health-promoting, not fluffy stuff you can get to once x, y, or z happens in your life. Work on it now!
Cernelic-Bizjak M, Jenko-Praznikar Z. Body dissatisfaction predicts inflammatory status in asymptomatic healthy individuals. J Health Psychol. 2018;23(1):25-35.