Joint Pain & Inflammation – Are Your Food Choices to Blame?

By Cassie Weness, RD, LD
January 15, 2019

fibromyalgia.jpgAre your achy knees the reason you can’t sign up for the basketball league or neighborhood 5K? Or do you wake up each morning so achy it’s hard to just get out of bed? Or perhaps you’re one of millions living with arthritis or battling chronic sinus infections?

All these health conditions have something in common, inflammation (which is a fancy word for pain.) So what is causing all of this inflammation? As a registered dietitian, I’ve studied this and worked with many individuals to break this cycle of pain and inflammation naturally, without relying on pain medications.

Let’s start with the end in mind; how great would it feel to return to your favorite pastimes with little to no discomfort? Play tennis again, get on the floor with your grandkids or go hiking all without the agony that is typically created by inflammation!

How? The equation is simple, reduce or eliminate the foods and beverages that fuel the inflammation fire. Here are some examples of items to cut out:

  • Pop
  • Beer and other alcoholic beverages
  • Coffee mochas and other high sugar drinks
  • High sugar foods and processed carbs (cookies, cake, candy, granola bars, crackers, etc.)
  • Foods containing refined oils (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, etc.)
  • Gluten grains (foods containing wheat, barley, rye and most oats)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.)

Not only does research tells us that sugar causes inflammation, but in 2016, the journal Lipids correlated soybean oil and other refined vegetable oils with an increase in risk factors for heart disease, such as inflammation of the blood vessels and unhealthy cholesterol numbers.  Beyond the research, many years of clinical experience have shown that food choices directly affect levels of pain and inflammation in the body.

As a dietitian, I have seen people’s lives change dramatically when they eliminate these items and switch to eating real food in balance. This means meals (three a day) and snacks (two to three a day) that contain no man-made or processed foods. No skipping meals!

Eat This, Not That

EatThisNotThat.jpgFor lunch, eat this, salad with greens, tomatoes, carrots, onions, walnuts, chicken and olive oil / balsamic vinegar dressing. Skip this, sub sandwich with chips and soda.

For an afternoon snack, eat this, two or three deviled egg halves, with handful of grapes. Skip this, cookie or donut as afternoon snack.

Don’t be overwhelmed; making dietary changes doesn’t need to be scary. Most people with pain and inflammation just need help getting started on an eating plan that is right for their body’s needs. 

For dedicated support, consider setting up a phone or in-person nutrition consultation with one of our nutritionists. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

About the author

Cassie has taken her nutrition knowledge and her passion for helping children to become an expert in healing children’s digestive issues. In fact, she used the power of real food to help her own son heal from a variety of digestive issues, including chronic reflux. She received a B.S. in food and nutrition and a minor in health education from North Dakota State University. She is a licensed and registered dietitian. Prior to joining Nutritional Weight & Wellness, she worked as a nutrition counselor at Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists, P.A., where she specialized in nutrition for pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and other women’s health needs.

View all posts by Cassie Weness, RD, LD


Gina yamaguchi
I need to lose 20 lbs and have terrible oestoarthritis
January 16, 2019 at 7:35 pm


We'd love to help you reach your health goals and highly encourage you to sign up for a phone or in-person nutrition consultation with one of our nutritionists or dieticians. 

Susan Pettit
I have chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis which has progressed over the past 24 years and at times due to other chronic conditions has not been able to be treated properly. I have constant pain and also as mentioned have some competing chronic disorders which accompany the RA. I also am not a foodie at all. Single, don’t really cook (I do not like to cook), and finding easy non-cooking choices fitting my situation and lifestyle is daunting to me. It is a struggle for me with food and need a coach or nutritionist who can work with me where I am at and help me. I want to make changes, but really need easy, baby steps, taking into consideration my whole health picture and again working with me where I am at (a non-foodie, somewhat disinterested in food, who is a snacker type person vs. full meals) and wants to begin healing from all the health crisis I have had over the past 5 years. Do you work with people like me?
January 23, 2019 at 9:07 pm


We absolutely work with individuals like yourself. We understand it’s difficult to start to make changes, especially when you don’t feel well on a daily basis. Whoever you work with will meet you where you are and support you along the way. It’s important to make changes at whatever pace is comfortable to you, otherwise it can just get too overwhelming. We’re happy to say we’ve worked with clients who have been able to get rid of their RA pain with diet and lifestyle changes!

Here's more information on how to schedule an in-person or phone nutrition consultation, and of course feel free to call our front desk toll-free: 888-805-8954 (Monday - Saturday). 

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