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The most recent research has shown that the healthiest way to eat, is to eat a small meal or you might call it a snack every 2 to 3 hours. This keeps one's blood glucose stable, and prevents food craving. Each meal should contain a lean protein. The largest part of the meal should be vegetables, largely green leafy vegetables, such as salad greens, broccoli, etc.. In addition to including plenty of green vegetables, including the full "rainbow" of color that is available in vegetables and fruit is important, as these colorful plant based foods contain important vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients, compounds that may not be essential to life, yet have a beneficial effect on health. Most phytonutrients work as anti-oxidants and anti-oxidants prevent excess free-radical production from occuring during the body's metabolic process. Free-radicals are causative agents for cancer as well as implicated in many disease processes including pain syndromes and arthritis. Antioxidants "de-activate' or inactivate free radicals thus prevent the damaging effect they incur on the tissues in the body. For more information on phytonutrients: http://www.phytonutrients-online.com/
Besides consuming lean protein, vegetables and fruit, you will want to include complex carbohydrates in your diet. Complex carbohydrates are those made from whole grains, rather than processed grains. This means brown rice instead of white rice, whole grain bread instead of white bread or even processed wheat bread. Eating things sweetened naturally, rather than with high fructose corn syrup will also help prevent peaks and valleys in blood glucose levels (thus preventing the metabolic problems such as diabetes that this can lead to).
Although it is recommended that one eats more frequently, remember these are not large meals. You may still eat a "meal" style, but if you do consider splitting it up into two or three smaller meals, and eating it 2 to 3 hours apart.
Some people feel that they are eating too much when they eat this frequently, at first. So keep in mind again, that these meals are smaller.
Besides the benefits on your blood glucose levels, eating more frequently and including a lean protein with each meal helps one shed pounds. Digestion takes energy, and by eating 5 to 6 meals daily your body's metabolism is increased. Thus, your body burns more calories every day, simply because you are eating more often.
It will be important to add activity to your life, but this can be simply adding a 10 minute walk, calisthenics, stretching exercises, gardening, or what ever you like as an activity, in a few times daily.
Starting your first meal early in the day and getting some activity in early in the day will also set your metabolism higher for the whole day.
Some are calling a healthy diet including plenty of phytonutrients and anti-oxidants, an "anti-inflammatory" diet. It is called an anti-inflammatory diet due to including the foods that create less free radical formation during metabolism, as well as including foods that inactivate the free radicals that are formed, since this decreases inflammation. "Over" inflammation is what is occurring in cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and many other diseases.
To get more ideas on the foods that will help decrease inflammation (arthritis is an inflammatory response) I will give you some links discussing this type of diet.
A discussion of anti-inflammatory diet on Web MD:
Links to Andrew Weil, MD anti-inflammatory diet information and also practical information such as recipes:
(Dr. Weil has very good information on his website, but he also sells supplements. You do not need a lot of supplements if you are eating adequate fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grain products)
One food group I have not discussed is the fats food group. It is important to consume the proper fats, and not hydrogenated or artificial fats such as "Crisco" and margarine. Instead you will want to use fats in your cooking based on natural products such as olive oil. For some people it can be helpful to take a supplement of flax seed oil or fish oil, as these oils contains fats that are essential for cardiac and nervous system health, but ones the body does not manufacture, so must be consumed. If you eat a lot of ocean fish, this is not necessary, but many of us don't eat that much fish. If you don't like taking supplements, flax seed can be sprinkled over other items you like to eat, such as whole grain cereal or oatmeal for example. You can read more about "good" fats versus "bad" fats on Dr Weil's web site, or on WebMD. Here is another link as well:
In some studies, increasing the "good" fats (omega 3 fatty acids) in the diet has decreased arthritis pain, besides being helpful for reducing cardiovascular disease and promoting healthy brain and nervous system functioning. Adequate healthy fats in the diet is helpful in preventing constipation, along with fibrous foods.
I hope this information gives you a good start on improving your weight and your arthritis symptoms. If you have any questions or comments though, please feel free to reply with them, as I want you to be satisfied with the answer to your question.
Have a prosperous and the healthy 2010!
Edited by Susan Ivy on 1/1/2010 at 5:57 PM EST