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The Arthritis Eating Plan in Three Words: Big Raw Salads

Hi, I’m Shiree’ Hanson Segerstrom. I’m an interior designer and wellness devotee and I have been diagnosed with six different degenerative bone conditions.  I help women with arthritis create beautiful, nurturing, highly functional homes that inspire them to take better care of themselves every day, where self-care begins… at HOME!

I want to share something really important with you today. I can’t wait for you to get this knowledge so you can get started and immediately commit to better self-care today. I’m talking about having a body that hums, yes even with arthritis.

If I know anything about you it’s that you hate spending a ton of time making yourself a big lunch salad only to turn around and have it taste awful. Or not satisfy you. Then you have to go back to whatever you’re doing, work or family commitments or whatever you do feeling deprived.  I know because I have been in the same situation myself.

I want to share a few secrets to making your salads taste ah-mazing every time so that all your efforts are not in vain.

The Four Main Elements

All salads have four main elements that make them taste good: fat, acid, salt and crunch. For fat, nutritionists recommend avocado and organic pressed extra virgin olive oil. Another excellent option is raw sesame tahini. Please don’t skimp on fat. I don’t care if you’re fat. Don’t skimp on fat. Fat is what makes the salad satisfying. It’s also incredibly important for joints and brain health. Do, however, get yourself a measuring spoon. For every 8-10 inch plate of salad I use 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. No cheating with low fat bottled dressing. This has to be made from scratch. Don’t bother using a separate bowl, just drizzle the ingredients directly onto the salad.

For acid, fresh lemon juice is hands down the most healthful acid you can use. It tastes the best. It detoxifies the best. It’s the healthiest. It has vitamin C. Use the juice of about ½ small to medium lemon per 8-10 inch salad plate.

For salt, pink Himalayan salt or sea salt. You don’t want to use table salt. It’s loaded with chemicals and anti-caking ingredients. Side bennie’s of pink and sea salt… they help with low blood pressure which I have and give you a few added minerals.

Romaine always makes a delicious salad base. It’s definitely my go to. I love to add shredded broccoli, lacinto kale (stems removed, massage leaves well) and red or napa cabbage to my Romaine salad bases.

Once you know what your salad base or ‘greens’ will be, choose the support ingredients for flavor and/or crunch. Some of my favorites are raw slivered almond, raw pumpkin seeds, raw cashews, raw pine nuts, raw sunflower seeds, apples, celery, raw pecans, raw red bell pepper, radishes, and sometimes carrots.

Other ingredients that I use are avocados, wild shrimp, quinoa, Kalamata olives, raw or cooked corn off the cob in season, peaches or nectarines, lime juice, figs, strawberries, cilantro, hummus, garbanzo beans and dried or fresh herbs. You might notice that tomatoes are missing. In case you weren’t aware of this, tomatoes are a nightshade vegetable and in large enough quantities they will wreak havoc with your pain level. Red bell pepper, potatoes and eggplant are nightshades too. I include red bell peppers because they never bother me, even in my homemade red bell pepper soup which is solid bell pepper.

Combining fruits and nuts is always a recipe for disaster for me because fruit digests so quickly and nuts don’t. So you end up with a tummy ache.

The P Word

Everyone always asks about protein when you mention salads so I’ll include my protein spiel this post, though it is for the most part about big raw salads. How do you get enough protein? Knowledgeable health experts (there are a few but you have to dig deep to find them) always laugh at this because they know the question is based on falacy. The truth is protein is not what we thought it was. Yes we need it but we don’t need it from meat which is the big lie we’re constantly told. Who is telling the lie? One guess… the meat industry! Hmm. Could there be a possible conflict of interest? Lots of books and documentaries speak on this topic so I won’t delve too deeply here. But still, protein IS important for rebuilding tissue so definitely find a high quality, easily assimilated source and include around 40-55 grams a day in your eating plan.

As a vegetarian I admittedly forget to include protein in my meals. When I remember to eat my protein I eat soaked nuts, pure nut milks, wild caught salmon, brown rice and beans, particularly black beans and garbanzo beans and quinoa which is high in protein. Like beans, quinoa is also both a starch and a protein. Eat in moderation so you don’t get gassy. I also like to supplement my protein intake with a high quality hemp protein powder like Nutiva but I also hear good things about pea protein. Please read the labels carefully! Don’t eat soy, canola oil or anything that you can’t pronounce or do not recognize as a fruit, vegetable or nut. I love my hemp protein powder mixed in pure 100% almond milk sweetened with a little pure maple syrup.  I always make sure to get some plant based protein at both lunch and dinner. It doesn’t have to be exactly in or on the salad or even at the same time as the meal.

One more thought on meat, what few nutrients are actually present in meat depends on what the cow, pig, chicken, turkey or lamb eats and how that creature is raised and ultimately slaughtered. Stress from slaughter, inhumane living conditions, use of antibiotics, and poor quality feed all wind up eaten by the end user, you. Further, cooking the meat pretty much cooks out the few nutrients that are there. And who wants to eat raw meat.

Ingredient Quality

First, start with great ingredients. With arthritis you need your food to be loaded with nutrients and that won’t happen if number one: you buy conventionally grown veggies and fruits. Conventionally grown means they use pesticides and even more importantly, the soil is very poor quality. Poor soil means poor nutrient levels. And number two: if you cook it. When you cook your veggies and fruits and nuts it takes away the enzymes and most of its nutrients. There are a few exceptions of course like wild salmon, beets, brown rice, quinoa, and starchy veggies like sweet potatoes. But for the most part you want a mostly raw organic plant based diet. I strive for 80/20 raw to cooked.

Going organic is not without some hurdles. You will experience some fairly substantial mindset issues when purchasing organic produce but let me help put that into perspective for you.

It’s a fact that organic produce costs more than conventionally grown and I didn’t go completely organic overnight. It’s taken me probably four, maybe even a little over five years to go completely organic. And do I ever eat conventionally grown produce? Sure. We eat out at least once a week. If the menu doesn’t state organic I automatically assume it’s not. Sometimes there is something that looks really good to me at the grocery store that’s obviously not organic like maybe an artichoke or asparagus or something I only buy once in a blue moon. I’ll eat non organic produce then. But for the most part I’m fully organic. Especially on things I buy weekly like leafy greens. I won’t buy store bought non organic leafy greens. When you accept that your food has a very real effect on your quality of life with a serious degenerative illness like arthritis and has to be a priority, you too will become one with The Organic Lifestyle. Or plainly put, do you want an additional $150 a month food bill ‘now’, or tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills ‘later’.

On Wednesday’s blog post you will get my recipes; when to eat your big raw salad; a few ways you can cheat on your arthritis eating plan; and the grocery shopping list I’m creating just for you. So be sure and tune in for the real gold! These combos disappear at dinner parties and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Live Beautifully. Eat beautifully, Shiree’