PT on the Net Research

Inflammatory Foods - Part 1

It would be safe to say that 90 percent of the clients we see are looking to lose weight and improve health. They want to change the way they look and feel. Usually, when people hire a trainer and/or nutritionist, it is because they are not happy with their health and weight and want to know exactly how to get results.

In my 10 years of working with clients, I've found the only way for clients to achieve great results is if they are following a sound nutritional program in combination with their exercise programs. No matter how detailed and perfect the exercise program, if the correct nutritional principles are not in place, clients will not see the results they want. I have had clients only follow their nutrition program without exercise, which resulted in dramatic fat loss and improved health. I also have had clients who followed their exercise programs but neglected their nutrition, and they saw NO results. Of course, a combination of the two is the ideal scenario, but the above statement serves to prove how the nutrition component is so very crucial.

Our clients want their nutrition programs to be easy yet effective. It has been my experience that the most successful clients have been those who I told exactly what to do and why they were doing it. Yes, I do agree that we can not just hand our clients “cookie cutter” nutrition programs, but in reality, our clients need to see results, or they will lose interest and motivation. It is our job to make their nutrition programs easy to follow, effective, healthy and realistic and a learning experience, all at the same time.

So how do we put together such a nutrition program? The simple solution to most health and weight concerns is to reduce the inflammation in their bodies. In my work with clients, I have found that almost every single one is suffering from a health condition or not losing weight because of inflammation. I would argue that every person who is overweight, obese or suffering from a health condition can be helped if inflammation was decreased with the foods they eat.

So, as far as a nutrition program is concerned, it should be our goal to give our clients an easy to follow, healthy, realistic program that will decrease inflammation in the body to result in dramatic fat loss and increased health.

First, what is inflammation? Inflammation is your immune system’s response to infection or irritation in the body. We have all experienced the inflammation that occurs on our skin in response to a cut, infection or injury. This kind of inflammation is visible. Likewise, your internal body systems will respond to infectious and irritating foods with inflammation. This kind of inflammation is not as visible, but it makes itself apparent through diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and obesity.

The results of reducing inflammatory foods in our clients' nutrition plans proves nothing but extraordinary results. I have witnessed this over and over again with my own clients. But the difficulty becomes providing an easy to understand nutritional program that clients can follow.

The following approach will make it easy for your clients to learn exactly which foods they can eat and which foods to avoid. It is also important that you explain to them exactly why they are avoiding certain foods. Some clients are like children: if they understand the “why,” they are more apt to follow instructions.

If you do not feel qualified to give nutritional information to your clients, give them the lists below and ask them to take them to their doctor or qualified health professional. Most doctors would agree that the following foods have incredible benefits.

I have taken the following approach with clients with much success:

  1. First, explain that their condition (diabetes, arthritis, chronic pain, obesity/difficulty losing weight) may be a result of inflammation in their body. To help illustrate this, say, "The same inflammation you experience on your skin as a result of an irritant occurs inside your body in response to irritating foods.”
  2. In order to find exactly which foods may be irritating, they must eliminate all possible culprits for 14 days. Almost every client can agree to 14 days. And after they have seen dramatic results in just two weeks, they are now more inclined to stick with the program!
  3. Instead of giving clients a long list of foods they can’t eat, give them a list of all the foods they can eat. (Better to start on a positive note!) For every meal they eat, they must choose one food from the A column and one from the B column.
    • A. Proteins
      • Whole Organic Eggs
      • Free Range Chicken, Duck, Pheasant (white and dark meat)
      • Free Range Turkey (white and dark meat)
      • Grass Fed Beef, Buffalo, Lamb, Venison
      • All Wild fish (no canned tuna)
      • Raw almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, filberts, pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
      • Raw Nut Butters from the above mentioned nuts
    • B. Fruits and Vegetables
      • All vegetables (except for Iceberg Lettuce and Corn)
      • All fruits (except for dried or canned)
    • Can be used at each meal:
      • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (preferably raw)
      • Butter (no margarine or any other fake butter)
      • Coconut Oil (Organic, Extra Virgin)
    • Unlimited:
      • All Spices
      • Only Celtic Sea Salt (no other salt is permitted)
      • Stevia (as a sweetener)
      • Herbal Teas
  4. It is helpful to provide clients the menu for a sample day, so they have a basic idea of how to put these foods together:
    • Breakfast:
      • 3 organic eggs, spinach and peppers, cooked in butter or coconut oil
      • 1 banana
    • Snack: 
      • 1 green apple
      • 2 TBSP Raw Almond Butter
    • Lunch: 
      • 5 oz Salmon
      • Over large salad (Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Celery)
      • 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
      • Strawberries or Blueberries
    • Snack:
      • 2 TBSP Raw Walnut Butter
      • Baby Carrots
    • Dinner: 
      • Chicken Legs
      • Sautéed Broccoli cooked in butter
      • Large green salad with Olive Oil and Lemon dressing
  5. Depending on the client, you might want to give them some portion guidelines, but it's usually not necessary. Our clients are not overeating on vegetables and proteins. They are overeating on starches and sugary foods.
  6. Give the golden rule of, “If it doesn’t make you feel good, don’t eat it!” It's that simple.

Now that your clients have seen they have a large variety of foods from which to choose, you provide the inflammatory foods lists (below) so they will know what they need to avoid.

Inflammatory Foods

  1. Wheat, Gluten and Grains - This is where clients will say to me, “But I eat whole wheat bread instead of white.” Regardless, the human body was not designed to eat the breads we have in this country today. Just a quick glance at the health condition of our population and the amount of breads, cereals and grains we all consume, and it's quite obvious that it is a poor choice for most of us. Whereas five years ago, it may have been more difficult to explain to clients to stay away from wheat and grains (bread, pastas, cereal, crackers), most of them now know how harmful it is to their health.
  2. Dairy - This is where clients will say to me, “But I drink skim milk instead of whole.” or “Where will I get my calcium from?” Regardless of the variety of milk they consume, dairy in this country is not in the form nature intended. Because of pasteurization, the high heat kills off all the necessary enzymes in the milk that we need to digest (thus the high prevalence of lactose intolerance and irritable bowl syndrome in this country). You can argue pasteurization is necessary to kill off bacteria, but in reality, the high heat temperatures of pasteurization are actually not high enough to kill off the pathogens most people are worried about. So this practice kills off the good and leaves the bad. You can also assure your clients that they will absorb more calcium from green leafy vegetables than any amount of milk they can consume. When I take clients off of dairy, the results are phenomenal. Once they have seen a significant amount of weight loss and improvement in health, I talk to them about incorporating raw dairy into their meal plan. If they are not open to it, then dairy is not an option.
  3. Sugar and foods containing sugar - Sugar, by far, is one of the most abused drugs in this country (and yes, I did call it a drug). It causes everything from rotting teeth to diabetes to most cancers. Even if your clients are not candy or dessert eaters, make them aware of the sugar content in most of their foods. If they were to total up the amount of sugar from their daily juices, sodas, processed foods and dressings, it could add up to 20 teaspoons of sugar a day! Teach your clients that any word ending in "-ose" on a package usually means sugar (i.e., sucrose, maltose, glucose).
  4. Artificial Sweeteners and Packaged Foods - If they can’t pronounce it, they are not allowed to eat it. So NO diet foods of any type (Jell-O, Diet Coke, frozen dinners, etc.). 

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “How will I get my clients to agree to this?” You ask them, “Do you want to feel better? I know exactly how to help you feel better. You can either follow this nutrition plan and feel great, or you can stay where you are.” They hired you for your expertise and to help them get results, not to negotiate with them.

In Part 2 of this article series, I will list the most common questions I get from clients during this two week period and exactly how I transition them out of this preliminary phase.


  1. Chek, Paul. How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy. San Diego, CA: CHEK Institute, 2004.
  2. De Los Rios, Isabel. The Diet Solution: Start Eating and Start Living. Florham Park, NJ: New Body, 2008.
  3. Fallon, Sally, with Mary G. Enig. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: New Trends, 2001.
  4. Mercola, Joseph, with Alison Rose Levy. The No-Grain Diet: Conquer Carbohydrate Addiction and Stay Slim for the Rest of Your Life. New York, NY: Dutton, 2003.