Looking for a quick and easy way to reduce inflammation? This post explains what inflammation is, how to reduce it, and provides a delicious and satisfying 5 day anti-inflammation meal plan that has been optimized to help reduce inflammation and to keep you feeling healthy and well-balanced.
Okay, let’s get to the main point here: An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods and ingredients that minimize your body’s inflammatory responses. Don’t worry if that seems a bit vague because we’ll dive deeper into what exactly that means later on in this post. As a general rule, the idea behind an anti-inflammatory diet is to replace sugary, refined foods with whole and nutrient-rich foods with generous amounts of antioxidants.
To make it all a lot more easier to understand (end enjoy!), I have also put together a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet meal plan for a 5-day routine, to get you started on your way. If you enjoyed my 7-Day Meal Plan for Weight Loss, I think you’re gonna love this meal plan, too!
What is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?
So, first things first: What the heck is an “anti-inflammatory diet” and why is it so important? There are times when your body recognizes a foreign element, including a chemical, plant pollen, an invading microbe or some other form of infection-causing agent, and this in turn, activates your immune system and triggers inflammation in order to protect your health and fight the illness. This is what your body is meant to do — protect itself against potential danger.
However, when inflammation persists and lasts several days, or when inflammation occurs without anything foreign, it make it hard to carry out even day-to-day activities without facing discomfort and pain. In fact, various diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart problems, depression, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s, are often associated with chronic inflammation. In these cases especially, there is a need to minimize inflammation and relieve pain and other symptoms.
Fortunately, one of the most effective solutions to reduce inflammation doesn’t involve medication or heavy treatments — instead, it’s all about making certain changes to your diet. Yep, all it takes is a trip to the grocery store to get foods and ingredients that have been shown to contain anti-inflammatory effects (meaning they reduce overall inflammation in your body). So choosing the right anti-inflammatory foods and turning them into delicious meals for breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner can work amazingly well to reduce your risk of illness.
Ya see where I’m going with this? 🙂
What causes inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injuries, infections, and illnesses. It occurs when the immune system of the body transports an increased amount of white blood cells to the area fighting off the injury or infection. In other words, inflammation is just your body trying to prevent any further illness or injury by strengthening the immune response in the portion that’s being threatened by the same.
However, several chronic inflammatory conditions or diseases, such as psoriasis, arthritis, and asthma can overdrive the immune system and attack healthy tissues. Apart from going for prescribed medications, a person with inflammation can minimize or even eliminate the same by making changes to their diet.
PLUS your physical health is not the only thing that can benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet — inflammatory conditions are also linked to mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. That means your food choices are likely just as significant as any supplements or medications when it comes to fighting inflammation and to boost your overall health. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor or licensed physician when starting a new diet or healthy lifestyle to confirm it is what makes the most sense for you and your health.
Loading up on anti-inflammatory foods is an essential step in reducing inflammation. That means you should look to eat as many whole fruits and vegetables as well as sources of omega-3 fatty acids as you can.
An anti-inflammatory diet meal should include these foods:
- nuts (like almonds and walnuts)
- berries (like blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries)
- olive oil and coconut oil
- dark, leafy greens (like kale and spinach)
- whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice, wild rice)
- red grapes
- beans and lentils
- cold water fish (like tuna and salmon)
- green tea (matcha)
- spices, like pepper, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon
- dark chocolate
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- citrus (like oranges and lemons)
- natural sweeteners (like dates and pure maple syrup)
- root starches (like sweet potatoes, beets, and potatoes)
What are the foods that cause inflammation?
On the other hand, you’ll also want to avoid inflammation-causing foods, including the following:
- refined carbohydrates (like white bread and white pasta)
- fried foods (trans fats)
- soda and other artificially-sweetened beverages
- high-fructose corn syrup
- red meat, especially very fatty meat
- processed meat
- refined oils (like margarine, shortening, vegetable oil, and soybean oil)
- excessive alcohol
- snack foods with high sodium (like chips and crackers)
What’s the difference between clean eating and anti-inflammation diet?
For starters, luckily, a LOT of clean eating correlates really well with an anti-inflammatory diet. That’s because, on an anti-inflammatory diet, you’re looking for fresh, whole foods, that are nutrient-dense. You’re also looking to avoid processed meats, sugary drinks, refined flours, and processed snacks. This should all look pretty familiar to clean eating.
That being said, while also clean eating, an anti-inflammatory diet is specifically designed with the most power-punched anti-inflammatory foods to get your body back on track and to get you feeling better.
Is an anti-inflammatory diet plant-based?
A true anti-inflammatory diet is mostly plant-based and emphasizes consuming lots of veggies, fruits, fish, whole grains, nuts, and healthy oils, like olive oil, which is preferred as the main source of dietary fat. While poultry and fish can be consumed a few times per week, yogurt and cheese are minimized, as are red meats, sweets, and red wine.
The concept behind the anti-inflammatory diet is simple: add in nutrients, such as vitamins, fiber, essential fatty acids, minerals, and phytonutrients to your meals to minimize inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and spices, and keeps the consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids well-balanced.
You’ll notice I chose not to add any meat into this meal plan, which isn’t entirely necessary for an anti-inflammatory diet, but choosing cold water fish that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon or tuna, 2-3 times a week, especially over fatty meats is a great help to inflammation as well.
5-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Plan
Below is a detailed 5-day anti-inflammatory diet meal plan that includes super delicious recipes to enjoy each day as your breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. This meal plan will provide you with a great start for how to put together an anti-inflammatory meal plan.
PS you can always customize the meal plan according to your dietary needs and preferences, especially taking advantage of the anti-inflammatory foods listed above.
Breakfast: Matcha Chia Make-Ahead Smoothie
For breakfast, we have our matcha chia make-ahead smoothies, which contain dark, leafy greens with our spinach, matcha powder, dates, and chia seeds, all with proven anti-inflammatory properties. Plus there is no added sugar in this or artificial ingredients so it’s great for your body.
Lunch: Turmeric Chickpea and Kale Buddha Bowl
For our lunch, we’ll be enjoying a Turmeric Chickpea and Kale Buddha Bowl each day, which contains anti-inflammatory chickpeas, kale, red grapes, wild rice, and more. Add that lemon squeeze when serving for added help in reducing inflammation in your stomach, joints, and muscles.
Snack: Lemon Ginger Energy Balls
For snack, we have energy balls that are filled with lemon, turmeric, and other anti-inflammatory spices, like pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. A snack is three of these bad boys and I know you’re gonna love them.
Dinner: Greek Quinoa Salad Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes
Dinner is our greek quinoa salad stuffed baked potatoes. We’ve got so much anti-inflammatory goodness stuffed into these baked sweet potatoes, including the sweet potato itself, which is high in vitamins C and E and they contain alpha and beto carotene which both reduce inflammation. Then it’s stuffed with quinoa, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion with a fresh lemon vinaigrette, all high in anti-inflammatory properties.
5-Day Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan
Matcha Chia Make-Ahead Smoothie (total of 5 smoothies)
- 5 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 5 frozen bananas
- 5 pitted dates
- 1 1/2 tbsp matcha powder
- 3 tbsp chia seeds
- 3 cups fresh spinach
Turmeric Chickpea and Kale Buddha Bowls (total of 5 bowls)
For the Wild Rice:
- 2 cups wild rice rinsed well (to yield 1 cup cooked per bowl)
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tsp sea salt
For the Chickpeas:
- 2 15-oz cans chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, and patted dry
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
For the Garlic Sautéed Kale:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 cups chopped kale
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
For the Bowl:
- 2 cups red grapes, sliced in half
- 5 wedges lemon, for serving
- 3 avocados diced (when ready to serve), if desired
Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls (total of 15 energy balls, 3 balls per serving)
- 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 8 large pitted dates
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
Greek Quinoa Salad Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato (total of 5 meals)
- 5 medium sweet potatoes, rinsed, poked, and patted dry
For Greek Quinoa Salad:
- 1/3 cup raw quinoa
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
- 1 cup diced cucumber, quartered
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
For Greek Quinoa Salad Dressing:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
Matcha Chia Make-Ahead Smoothie (5 servings)
- Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
- While you could make this fresh each day, I make all 5 smoothies ahead of time and store them in the freezer. Then, I remove one each day the night before and allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight so I have my smoothie ready to enjoy each morning.
Turmeric Chickpea and Kale Buddha Bowl (5 servings)
- To make the wild rice, place wild rice, water, and salt in a deep pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Cover, and bring it to a boil. Then, turn heat down to low and let simmer 40-45 minutes. The rice is cooked when it is tender and creamy, and all the liquid has been absorbed.
- To make the chickpeas, combine the chickpeas with the seasoning, and toss to coat. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the seasoned chickpeas. Sauté the chickpeas for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. To avoid smashing the chickpeas with a spoon, you can shake the pan to toss the chickpeas around to evenly brown. Add additional oil, as needed, to prevent from sticking. Then, remove from heat and set aside.
- To make the kale, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the kale and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and sea salt, and stir for another minute.
- Assemble the bowls into meal prep containers, starting with the wild rice as the base (1 cup per meal). Then, top with the seasoned chickpeas (1/3-1/2 cups per meal), sautéed kale, grapes (1/4 cup per meal), and wedge of lemon. When ready to serve, top with avocado, if desired, and squeeze lemon juice.
For The Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls (5 servings, 3 balls per serving)
- Add all ingredients to a food processor, and process until the mixture becomes a ball and is fully blended.
- Divide the mixture evenly into 15 portions – using a meatball scoop is handy for this. Roll into balls using your hands.
- Place into the fridge to become more firm and solidify. Then, store in the fridge in an air-tight container all together or individually portioned for each day.
Greek Quinoa Salad Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato (5 servings)
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash sweet potatoes and remove any debris or dirt, and then pat dry. Place the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet and poke several holes around each of them using a fork or small knife.
- Bake for 55-65 minutes or until a fork can easily be inserted into the flesh of the potatoes.
- When the sweet potatoes have about 20 minutes left, cook quinoa. Just combine the uncooked quinoa and water in a small sauce pan, and heat over medium-high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook 15-20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa has opened and is tender. Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, and then set aside to cool.
- Once the sweet potatoes are done baking, let cool slightly. Once cool, cut the sweet potatoes open and shred the flesh from the skin so that the inside is mashed and easy to scoop out.
- For Greek Quinoa Stuffing, in a large mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa and the rest of the ingredients for quinoa salad. Set aside.
- In a separate small mixing bowl, make the quinoa salad dressing by adding the ingredients for the dressing and whisking them together.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and then toss everything to combine evenly.
- Stuff the sweet potatoes with the quinoa salad and store in glass meal prep containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Nutritional information is for an entire day of the 5-day meal plan, which includes breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner.
- All food can be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.
- Meals can be prepped ahead of time in bulk, if desired.
This post contains affiliate links for products I use often and highly recommend.
Please note: I am not a medical practitioner and do not provide medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Please seek assistance for any diagnosis, treatment, and/or advice from qualified providers based on your condition.