Foods to Avoid When You're in Chronic PainYou may have heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” Truthfully, what you eat can really attribute to how you feel. While there are some foods that you want to incorporate into your diet to minimize your pain, there are also others that you want to steer away from. Certain foods, including those that are processed, packaged, or prepared, can attribute to inflammation; below, we outline common ones that you should avoid.



Used as a sugar substitute, this non-caloric artificial sweetener, often recognized as Equal or Nutrasweet, can be found in many diet sodas, gum, and even yogurt. While it is popularly used and can be found many of the most common food items, consumption of aspartame can lead to migraines, joint pain, and even diabetes. Additionally, due to the cytokines they release, processed sugar can also trigger an inflammatory response in the body. For healthier alternatives, opt for Stevia, an all-natural sweetener derived from the plant Stevia rebaudiana. Cutting back on your sugar consumption will noticeable make you feel better.


Found in many processed foods, such as white breads and pastas, gluten can cause an inflammatory reaction in some individuals. Wheat is highly acid forming and can offset an inflammatory reaction in the body. Even if you’re not affected by celiac disease, you may still be sensitive to gluten. Eliminating gluten from your diet can make you feel better. Not to mention, refined carbs, which include white rice, crackers, or anything made with white flour causes increases of pro-inflammatory compounds within the body. If you cannot eliminate gluten, choose whole wheat grains or quinoa.


Monosodium glutamate, otherwise known as MSG, is a popular additive used to enhance flavor in foods; it is widely used and found in Asian cuisine. MSG may trigger pain receptors and can also affect liver health.

Dairy Products

Dairy contains certain proteins such as casein that, when consumed, may irritate the tissue of the joints. Source the majority of your protein from nuts, tofu, and quinoa to decrease the potential of irritation. You may also consider a vegan diet.

Fried Foods

Hamburgers, fries, potato chips, onion rings, are not only unhealthy for you but they also attribute to inflammation. This is because fried foods, and those cooked at high temperatures, create advanced glycation end products (AGES) which the body recognizes and treats as an invader. As the body attempts to break down the AGES, inflammatory cytokines are released.

Additionally, they’re high in trans-fat. Avoid foods that list partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils on their labels; such examples include donuts, cookies, stick margarines, etc. Instead of frying, turn to other healthier cooking methods such as grilling or steaming.

Red Meat

Red meat contains arachidonic acid, which is a fatty acid. Due to the way our bodies break down arachidonic acid into inflammatory compounds, inflammation is then promoted. Chicken, or protein sources like fish and tofu, serves as a wise alternative.

Nightshade vegetables

Eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, are believed to contribute to inflammation due to the alkaloid solanine that they contain. Eat these vegetables in moderation if you’re suffering from chronic pain.