Food, Nutrition & Diet
Updated: Jun 27
Food is your first medicine! Therefore, we recommend a healthy, whole-food focused, anti-inflammatory approach to eating to promote your body’s best healing environment. Simply put, this means:
Focus on protein and vegetables
Focus on single-ingredient foods as much as possible
Avoid artificial sugars (especially high-fructose corn syrup)
Avoid processed foods
Avoid food products with unrecognizable or artificial ingredients
For some of us, this is a big shift from what our diet looks like right now. So it’s important to know why to begin this shift. This “why” should include not only the science but also what makes this meaningful to you.
First, the science
Complete nutrition is critical to healing and normal body functioning. You can’t heal if you don’t have the materials your body needs to achieve that healing, just like you can’t build a brick house if you don’t have the bricks and mortar. Therefore, you need the macronutrient- and micronutrient-rich proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that come from eating a variety of quality foods. These are the building blocks for your body to make new cells, blood, bone, skin, and more!
On the other hand, a diet that regularly includes sugars, processed foods, and artificial ingredients and lacks the necessary nutritional variety promotes inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s normal healing process. (And it doesn’t need you to eat an inflammatory diet to get this process going!) So, despite the bad rap that inflammation gets, some of it is actually good. However, when our bodies are continually in an inflammatory state, we can’t effectively heal, pain levels often rise, and a breeding ground is created for declining physical and mental health. An inflammatory diet can also create an imbalance in gut bacteria, which also contributes to many health complaints/conditions.
From a Physical Therapy perspective, your healing will be slower to progress and will be likely to have more ups and downs along the way if you continue to eat an inflammatory diet. From a Fascial Counterstrain perspective, we know that the fascia that lines the internal organs (including the gut) plays a significant role in spinal and pelvic alignment, hip range of motion, and posture, just to name a few. Your body is an integrated system, and the food choices you make can either support or hinder your system as a whole.
It is not uncommon for a pain complaint to be exacerbated by an irritated gut, say from a weekend of eating cabin, holiday, or graduation party food. Or symptoms may be recurring due to a GI tract that is frequently or continually dealing with digesting inflammatory foods. In either case, the gut fascia can respond with a protective response, leading to tension and/or pain. This tension could be local (such as in the abdominal region), but it could also be in the hips, spine, head, or anywhere else due to the interconnected nature of our bodies. When this happens, your body is trying to tell you to make a change!
There are some foods that raise inflammatory levels for all of us. This includes sugar and artificial sugars/sweeteners, fried foods, too many Omega-6 fatty acids in comparison to Omega-3s, and processed foods. Some people are sensitive to foods that are good for the majority of the population (such as dairy, gluten, grains in general, legumes, or even certain vegetables or fruits). For these people, these otherwise wholesome foods can cause an inflammatory response with symptoms such as digestive dysfunction, brain fog, impaired sleep, poor energy, and more. Especially when consumed on an ongoing basis,eating inflammatory foods contributes to chronic inflammation in the body (the effects of which are briefly described above).
Okay, that’s all a lot of information. Now let’s move from information to making this personally relevant: What is your “why?” Is it improved overall health, reduced health risks, increased energy, weight loss, faster healing from an injury (such as the issue that brought you to PT in the first place), reduced chronic pain, reduced symptoms and severity of a chronic health condition, or something else? Think about it for a few minutes and write down the motivators that come to mind. (We’ll gladly wait.)
A Little Encouragement
Making dietary changes is a journey for all of us. We have to factor in our lifestyle (which may need to be adjusted to give our bodies the support needed for healing), our finances, our emotional experiences with eating, allergies, food sensitivities, our goals, our non-negotiables, our family needs… and probably more! We understand this is a journey for everyone; build from wherever you're at now and take small, manageable steps. Making one swap or improvement every week is a great way to start.
Some food is better than no food at all. If you’re reading this and wondering how in the world you can make changes based on your financial situation or some other circumstance, please know that we understand. And, we believe it is possible to find creative solutions no matter your circumstances (see resource section below). Start small and progress as you’re able to. Just about any food you prepare yourself is going to be more nutritious and less inflammatory than a pre-packaged or restaurant-prepared meal (with occasional exceptions to this rule).
Eating disorders or disordered relationship with food
If you have a history of an eating disorder, please know that we are sensitive to this and want you to integrate any mental health work you have done around food/eating issues. Truly this is a critical part of eating well! We want you to eat foods that nourish you and help your body to heal. Please bring any diagnosed or undiagnosed eating disorder history to the attention of your physical therapist.
If you wonder whether you might have a sensitivity to a particular food, an elimination diet will likely help you gain clarity about how your body responds to that food and how your body feels and functions without that food. If you have previously noticed a poor response to a food including dairy, gluten, or any other food in your diet, consider removing it from your diet to facilitate your healing. Food is your first medicine. Whole30 resources may be helpful guides to this process.
Consider a probiotic supplement to help your body rebalance your gut microbiome. This is especially important if you have taken an antibiotic and not yet followed the course of antibiotics with a probiotic. Look for a probiotic with diversity in bacterial strains (at least 5 different strains is recommended), and be sure it includes both Lactobacilius and Bifidobacterium strains.
Inspiration, Encouragement, and Where to Learn More
This information is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested in learning more, please explore the nutrition resources on our website, nutrition topics on our Daulton PT Blog, and the book and website resources listed below.
Get inspired: “Whole30,” “Paleo,” “Anti-Inflammatory,” and “Mediterranean Diet” are helpful search terms when looking for whole food-focused recipes that support healing.
Our clinic Facebook and Instagram pages also have some recipe ideas.
Everything you ever needed to know about the Whole30
Learn about the AutoImmune Protocol (AIP) and how to begin from ThePaleoMom
Cooking on a budget with Budget Bytes
Eat well with your whole family (kids included!) with Kitchen Stewardship
Anti-Inflammatory Guide recommended by Daulton Physical Therapy: https://www.daultonpt.com/resource (Look under “Nutrition Resources”)
AutoImmune Protocol books/cookbooks from The Paleo Mom
It Starts With Food (the WHY behind the Whole30)
In Defense of Food (for those interested in the history of food in the US.)
Local libraries often have Whole30, Paleo, and Mediterranean cookbooks.
If you need support that is beyond our scope of practice as Physical Therapists, we are happy to help connect you with a dietician, nutritionist, or health coach who can help you on this journey. Please let us know if you need such a referral.
Here is a professional we trust who works with Daulton PT patients: Amy Beaver (Certified Health Coach). Please contact the Daulton PT Scheduling Staff to make an appointment with Amy.
Ideas for Eating Locally, Eating Well, and Cutting Food Costs:
River Falls (Dick’s Fresh Market Parking Lot)
Tuesday: 3:00pm - 6:00pm, Jun - Oct, Saturday: 8:00am - 12:00pm, Jun – Oct
Hudson Farmer’s Market on Carmichael 777 Carmichael Road, Hudson, WI 54016
Saturday: 8:00am - 12:00pm, May – Oct
Hudson Farmer’s Market at Plaza 94 (1800 Ward Avenue , Hudson, WI 54016)
Thursday: 7:30am-12:00pm, June – Oct
Barlow Roots (651 Old Hwy 35 South, Hudson, WI 54016) (just south of the movie theater) Hours: Mon-Sat 9-7, closed on Sunday. Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Call or Text: 715-575-1558
Sunnyside Farm (N8477 1060th Street, River Falls, WI 54022) Hours: Daily 8am-6pm. See the farm’s Facebook for more information.
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture):
Other options near you can be found at LocalHarvest.org by entering your zip code.
CSAs have an upfront cost but are a very economical option for bringing fresh, local, and usually organic produce to your table.
Natural and Local Shopping:
Whole Earth Grocery Co-op (River Falls)
Fresh and Natural Foods (Hudson)
Hudson Food Rescue at Cornerstone Church - Greens and bread only Sunday through Thursday 9-11am, larger “market” Fridays 9-11am. All food is free. Help reduce food waste and lighten the load on your budget.
Food Pantries Near you: https://www.foodpantries.org/
Get the most delicious, nutritious, pesticide-free, and affordable produce by growing it yourself! You don’t need a big garden (or a garden at all) to begin. You can start with a container garden with greens or tomatoes. Maybe include some easy-to-grow basil? Set it on a plant stand to reduce bending if this is an issue for you. It’s easier than you might think, and it will nourish your body and your soul.