When my husband was hospitalized overnight for severe abdominal pain and given all the tests: MRI, CAT, X-ray … but told it was in his head and pronounced healthy because nothing could explain his nausea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and constant, grinding discomfort, we didn’t give up.
He wasn’t healthy, and he was also experiencing a lot of joint pain. Our chiropractor, Dr. Shannon Anhorn, contributor to the Experts In Diastasis Recti ecourse, recommended he see a naturopath who could help him reduce his overall inflammation. So I booked him into see my midwife who is also an ND and family care physician.
Dr. Alexandra Demetro, ND immediately put my “medically healthy” husband on her 6-week anti-inflammatory diet, and I was immediately suspicious. I hate diets. I hate the word diet.
Then my honey handed me the paper she’d given him, and I realized it was perfect. It summed up ALL the information on foods that inflame the body, creating a clear outline of what to eat. It was doable. It was simple. At the very beginning, it said “no restriction on the amount of food you can eat,” and the short list of things to avoid came at the very end.
I promised myself that if it worked for him, and if I noticed his belly getting better as well (he had a small diastasis that had grown worse while he was hunched over in pain), I would ask Dr. Demetro if I could publish her anti-inflammatory diet.
It definitely worked.
It worked so well, his pain and nausea were completely gone in just a couple of weeks, and his diastasis recti narrowed. By the end of 6 weeks, he was able to go back to eating all the things (within reason) and stay symptom-free.
I obtained Dr. Demetro’s permission to share her anti-inflammatory diet right away, but I waited a couple years for several reasons. First, I know that reducing inflammation is connected to diastasis recti, but I wasn’t sure how to explain that yet. Second, I wanted to see how a modified version of the diet would impact my family over time. I wouldn’t be publishing this if I didn’t find it beneficial to fitness and my family.
Dr. Demetro’s 6-Week Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Here it is, exactly as she wrote it out, no changes or personal notes from me. Her only request was that I remind people to always seek out their own nauturopathic or integrative medicine doctor for complete help, since food is only one piece of the inflammation puzzle.
Try to eat only ORGANIC foods as they have two to five times more nutrients. Not only will organically grown foods nourish your body, but will also decrease exposure to pesticides. There is no restriction on the amount of food you can eat. Plan your meals the day before, and bring your lunch to work/school to avoid processed/non-organic foods.
Breakfast: eggs (3 organic and soft boiled for 4 minutes). Oatmeal (gluten-free) with a diced apple, ½ c. blueberries, ½ c. pecans (raw), 1 TBSP ground flax seeds. Green smoothie: blend 2 c. spinach or other dark leafy greens, 1 frozen banana, 1 c. blueberries, water.
Lunch: “Rainbow Salad” — see recipe below topped with wild caught salmon, organic chicken, or turkey.
Dinner: brown rice (bring 2 cups water, one cup rice to a boil, turn down the heat and it’s ready once water is absorbed) or quinoa mixed with black beans, a baked sweet potato or yam with flax oil on top, and steamed green beans or broccoli.
Snacks: nuts (raw), baby carrots with hummus, cucumber slices with guacamole, red bell peppers with salsa, rice crackers with almond butter, raw fruit.
EAT A RAW “RAINBOW SALAD” EVERY DAY!
This salad should take up ⅔ of your plate. You know you have all the nutrients if it’s got all the colors of the rainbow: red bell peppers, a carrot, cherry tomatoes, dark green lettuce, avocado, grated purple cabbage with …
Vinaigrette Dressing (make your own as store bought ones have cane sugar added):
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
3 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp honey (raw, local)
1 tsp mustard (grey poupon)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: garlic (minced), chives (minced) or any other herbs.
Steamed veggies are also great for allowing the intestine to repair itself during these 6 weeks. Eat a wide variety of all vegetables (except white potatoes). Focus especially on dark leafy greens every day. Eat more of the lower carbohydrate (3%-6%) veggies:
3%: asparagus, bean sprouts, beet greens, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Swiss chard, cucumber, lettuce, mustard greens, radish, spinach, watercress
6%: string beans, beets, brussel sprouts, chives, collards, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onion, parsley, red bell pepper, pumpkin, rutabaga, turnip, zucchini
15%: artichoke, parsnip, green beans, squash, carrot
20+: yam, sweet potato
Allowed gluten-free grains: quinoa, brown rice (brown rice pasta and crackers are ok too), amaranth, millet, oatmeal, teff
Legumes: eat a variety of legumes: split peas, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, mung beans, garbanzo beans
Fish: Bake wild caught (not farm raised) deep-sea ocean fish at 225 degrees F for about an hour. Wild caught salmon has the least amount of mercury. Also ok is haddock, mackerel, sardines, flounder. Avoid shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab, clams)
Fruit: RAW fruit only. Try to eat mostly the low (3%-6%)n carbohydrate fruits:
3%: cantaloupe, rhubarb, strawberries, melons
6%: apricots, blackberries, cranberries, papaya, peaches, plums, raspberries, kiwi
15%: apples (go for the green as they are not quite as sweet), blueberries, cherries, grapes, mangos, pears, pineapple, pomegranate
20%: banana, figs, prunes, any dried fruit
Sweeteners: honey is ok, but only 1 tsp/day. Mostly MAKE RAW FRUIT YOUR SWEET! Avoid dried fruit, and absolutely NO REFINED SUGAR in candy, granola bars, most baked goods. Especially avoid “no sugar” items that contain aspartame (NutraSweet, Sweet ‘N Low, Crystal Lite, most gums).
Seeds and nuts: RAW nuts only. Grind flax, pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower seeds and add to steamed veggies, cooked grains, etc. You may also eat nut and seed butters, such as almond and cashew butter.
Oils: extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
Spices: turmeric is very anti-inflammatory, so use over brown rice or quinoa, or on steamed veggies.
Raw fermented sauerkraut: mix one head of red cabbage (chopped) with 1 TBSP salt, and put into a quart Mason jar with a plastic zip-locked bag of water on top (acting as the weight and lid). Push all air bubbles out with this bag of water. Let jar of kraut sit on counter by stove for 2 weeks. Eat 1 tsp/day for digestive and immune system enhancing probiotics.
Drink: Drink 6-8 glasses of water (filtered, spring, or reverse-osmosis filtered) every day.
AVOID the following: animal milks, cheeses/dairy, gluten (wheat, rye, barley), peanuts, red meat (beef, pork), white potatoes, SUGARS, all fruit juices, any processed foods, all caffeine teas and coffee, all GMO corn and soy products, pasta, dry cereals, breads, white flour, dried fruit, fried foods, and alcohol.
It’s just for a little while, not forever.
Again, what I loved about this protocol — a less cringey word to me than “diet” — is that it emphasized what can be eaten, and it led my family to more foods that made us all feel better. My husband wasn’t the only one reaping the benefits!
We still put coconut oil on our GF oatmeal. We still consume lots of homemade sauerkraut, cantaloupe, cucumbers, celery, and turmeric. Many things “stuck” with our family, and I have since learned many more connections between gut health and core fitness.
What do you think?
Could you do this for just 6 weeks? Can you see how this anti-inflammatory diet covers all the bases and eliminates all oral sources of inflammation? Have you noticed how different foods bloat your belly? Do you think reducing/eliminating your intake of those things for a while might help your diastasis recti?