‘Gratifood’ — Giving Thanks for Health and Comfort Foods That Fight Inflammation

By Julie Eller, arthritis patient and Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast co-host

November is one of my favorite months of the year because it is a month that is all about food. This year’s holiday will look very different for many families as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. One thing that continues to remain the same is my month dedication to experimenting in the kitchen. I love to spend time in my kitchen curating the perfect menu to serve for the Thanksgiving holiday. For me, the staples are honeycrisp apple pie, roasted carrots, Yorkshire puddings, and of course, cranberry sauce (from the can, with the ridges!)

As I think about food this month, I get caught up in my need for two important elements: health and comfort. Our country has faced so much pain due to the pandemic, with more than 215,000 American deaths and more than 11 million cases of COVID-19. It can be hard to comprehend the massive toll this pandemic has levied across our world – and one of my best coping methods is through food. With health on the forefront of everyone’s mind, I frequently reach for the “arthritis-friendly” or anti-inflammatory ingredients as I’m throwing my dinner together. At the same time, I find myself cooking my favorite comfort foods at a greater and greater frequency.

Striking the right balance between health and comfort is a challenge when it comes to my meal planning, and lately I’ve found myself curious about what makes a good meal, a good diet, a good lifestyle for people living with arthritis through these stressful times. I hear from patients all the time that they are taking control of their arthritis by taking control of their diet. Often this is catalyzed by a sexy snippet of health information — they saw a great tip on social media about an anti-inflammatory ingredient that they’re going to start cooking with, they heard about a new diet that can help them lose weight fast and manage some of their joint stress, they are eliminating all nightshade veggies because they saw an article that says they cause more inflammation.

I can’t tell you how many times that someone has reached out to me on Facebook to let me know that they can “cure arthritis” with a supplement or specific diet regimen. And frankly, it is frustrating, because many times the tips that my very well-meaning friends and family share are rooted in misinformation or pseudoscience. I know this is a frustrating reality for many people living with arthritis, especially when we all so badly want to find the things that will help us manage our disease. These arthritis diet tips are everywhere, and it can be difficult to discern whether they are fact or fiction.

That’s why my co-host Rebecca and I are so excited to bring you the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast. In the episode we work with Ginger Hultin who has her master’s degree in nutrition and is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She is here to help us understand anti-inflammatory foods, debunk popular myths and help us build our food toolkit. There is so much out of our control in 2020, but time in the kitchen always gives me a few moments of peace in crafting a meal that is entirely under my direction. I’m so excited to incorporate Ginger’s guidance into my cooking and I hope you are, too. Listen today!

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