By Sarah Bingham, MS, CNS, LDN

Nutrition Consultant

Many of my clients are unaware of the fact that their diet can be playing a big role in the amount of pain they are experiencing.  Here are all the nutritional factors I take into account when working with someone in chronic or even acute pain:

GLUTEN:  Over and over, I have witnessed clients come through the door expounding on how much less pain…or no pain…they have since getting off gluten.  There are many reasons for this new, popular issue of gluten intolerance.  The biggest reason is our digestive tracts have been compromised by the endless array of antibiotics used in our meat industry as well as few people getting through life without several doses of antibiotics.  We also know that Roundup, the weed killer has a negative effect on our digestion enabling us to become more reactive (think inflamed) to foods we eat all the time.

It’s important to know that if you are going to try gluten free, you MUST only eat whole, gluten free foods, not the highly processed cookies and breads that are on the market.  You will see below in my trial diet that you need to avoid all breads, crackers, pasta, sauces, anything with wheat, flour, semolina or gluten as an ingredient to see if they are a contributing factor.

I have watched a client eat some bread and within 5-10 minutes start rubbing her thumb because the arthritic-like pain came on that quickly.  Gluten is a big player in all inflammation

SUGAR:  This is our number one culprit for ALL illness, inflammation, pain, depression, anxiety in our country.  Look at what I recommended to eat for a week above.  This also eliminates sugar.  I promise that not only will your pain be less, you will feel fabulous at the end of the 7 days.  More energy, better sleep, better bowel movements…and less pain.

DAIRY:  For some folks, milk-derived foods can create inflammation in their body due to maldigestion.  There is a long story behind why our dairy has become so reactive but suffice it to say that the way we feed and raise our dairy cattle in this country does not create a healthy food.  It’s worth a try to leave it out of your diet for 7 days to see if it makes a difference.

DEADLY NIGHTSHADES:   Ten percent of the population react to this group of food with pain.  The pain mimics arthritis.  Foods in this category are tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and green, red, yellow peppers. My pain free diet below excludes those, as well.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS:   Our food industry feeds us an abundance of the wrong oils, (as they are cheap). All of these oils are inflammatory.  This is another reason to leave all processed foods on the shelf and just bring home simple, whole foods.  I have watched many clients have miraculous dissolving of pain by getting off all processed foods and adding cod liver oil to their routine.

Just one teaspoon of cod liver oil daily can make a huge difference in arthritic pain and any other pain caused by inflammation.  Make sure to get a very high-quality cod liver oil, naturally fermented and from very pristine fish livers.  The brand I prefer is Rosita. It’s worth it to start this right away, as sometimes, that’s all you need!


For one week, eat only organic brown rice or quinoa for your grain, lots of veggies, and small quantities of organic meats, poultry or wild fish.  Use fruit as your snacks between meals. Breakfast can be organic eggs and veggies or organic sausage (gluten-free, sugar-free) and veggies or leftovers.  Just 7 days will show you how much food may be playing a part in your pain.

NOW, if after 7 days your pain is much better or gone, it’s time to reintroduce foods slowly to see who the bad guys are who are creating the stress and inflammation in your body.


This is called the Challenge Phase because you’re challenging your system to react to commonly problematic foods. If there is no adverse reaction, your body has met the challenge and proved it can handle the reintroduced food. If there is an adverse reaction, however, you have identified one of your problem foods.

It would be too confusing to reintroduce all the foods at one time and then try to figure out which ones caused your reaction. So, the foods are allowed back into your diet one food group at a time at two-day intervals.. To be absolutely sure of detecting food sensitivities, you need to eat a reasonably large amount of the suspect food three times a day for two full days. Here, your main symptom is pain, but monitor your weight, as well.  A two-pound jump in weight overnight means you are reacting to that food.

If you do have a reaction to one of the foods during this phase, stop eating that food and go back to the foods you were eating before you introduced this food until the symptoms totally cease. This usually takes three days. For example, if you reintroduce dairy products and nightshades with no problems and then reintroduce gluten/wheat and have a reaction, stop eating the gluten for however long it takes to become unreactive.

The time period for this varies from one day to ten days, depending on your system. Don’t worry about it, though! You have discovered one of your problem foods, which is the goal of this phase. Once symptom-free, reintroduce the next food on the list, continuing to completely eliminate the food group that caused a reaction.

If your symptoms do not recur upon the reintroduction of a particular food during the two days, you can simply continue eating that food in regular-size servings whenever you wish and go on to the next group on the list. Since you have been able to eat successfully large quantities of a given food for two days in a row without any reaction, you can safely assume you are not reactive to it.

I am going to give you a list starting with the foods less likely to be causing a problem to most.  If you start this way, you can usually get the reintroduction phase accomplished faster.  BUT, pay attention to your body and your history with foods.  If you suspect a food, put it toward the end.  Here’s my list:

Deadly nightshades, dairy, gluten and sugar in that order.  See how it goes!

Need some assistance? Schedule a free 15-minute call with me here!