There’s no official diet for people with spondylitis, but many members of MySpondylitisTeam describe having success with vegetarian diets, anti-inflammatory diets (like the Mediterranean diet), ketogenic (keto) diets, or high-protein diets. Others have discovered that specific ingredients, like gluten, sugar, or nightshade vegetables make their symptoms worse, so they avoid these triggers.
When you have a chronic disease, the endless amount of dietary recommendations can be overwhelming, especially because no two people with spondylitis are exactly alike. In addition, finding quick and easy snacks is much harder when you’re following a complex set of food rules. When it comes to snacking, keep it simple. Here are some nutritious, spondylitis-friendly ideas that you may want to try.
One characteristic that the dietary recommendations for spondylitis have in common is a focus on unprocessed whole foods. Unfortunately, snacks are often some of the most processed items on the shelf. Many of the typical granola bars or bagged items are loaded with sugar, sodium, and preservatives. Finding gluten-free or low-sugar snacks that provide nutritional value can be a challenge, especially when you can’t refrigerate them.
Here are some quick and easy bites to toss in your bag:
Plant-based snacks tend to be higher in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Finding opportunities to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts into your day, may help reduce inflammation.
One of the main reasons that certain foods need to be refrigerated is that they contain “free water,” which increases the potential for bacterial growth (yogurt or sliced fruit). Removing the water can turn a perishable snack into one that can hang out in your desk drawer. That’s why dried food like raisins or beef jerky doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Prunes, dried apricots, and dried mangos are examples of tasty dried snacks. You can also find vegetable chips like kale or beet chips.
You can even make your own dried snacks with a dehydrator. A dehydrator is a simple kitchen device that opens your snacking options up to an array of fun sweet and savory possibilities.
Because dehydrators are popular with vegans and raw foodies, it’s easy to find recipes online. Look for recipe websites with reviews so you can see tips and advice from others.
Healthier snacks can seem a little easier to come by when you have access to a refrigerator. Instead of getting stuck in a rut with the same snacks from week to week, consider a few of these less common versions of old favorites.
Tuna salad is a popular standby for sandwiches and snacks. But you can reinvent tuna salad by subbing in different types of fatty fish, like sardines or canned salmon. Finding ways to snack on seafood will boost your intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. For a gluten-free alternative to crackers and bread, spread it on rice crackers or crispy fresh veggies like cucumber slices and celery stalks.
Chia and flax seeds are the perfect vegan alternative to fish for including omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Chia seed pudding recipes are usually healthier than sugary pudding cups. Most recipes call for a cup of milk or milk alternative and a quarter cup of chia seeds. Allow the mixture to sit overnight in the refrigerator until it thickens and divvy up snack-sized portions. Get creative by adding chopped nuts, fruit, maple syrup, cinnamon, or any flavors you like.
Frozen snacks aren’t just good for hot summer days. You can enjoy an icy treat any time of the year. Next time you’re craving ice cream, why not try a naturally sweet option that’s complete with fiber, vitamins, and minerals? If you have a blender, these two ideas are perfect for someone with spondylitis or anyone who wants to upgrade their diet.
Homemade popsicles are a fun way to enjoy all the colorful nutrients you’d find in a smoothie. Go green by adding a helping of frozen spinach to a mix of sweet fruits, like mango, banana, and berries. You can find popsicle molds online or in the store and try out your own interesting fruit-based combinations.
For the creamy texture of ice cream, dairy-free banana “ice cream” gets the job done. You’ll need a few frozen (ripe) bananas and a good-quality blender or food processor. Try some add-ins, like salted almond butter, mini chocolate chips, and vanilla extract. Blend the bananas well with the flavors of your choice, and you’ll be surprised to see how similar the texture is to traditional ice cream.
There will be days when spondylitis makes life harder. Instead of getting bogged down with strict dietary rules, try to see snacking as an opportunity to experiment with exciting ingredients and flavors. Consider adding new kitchen gadgets to open up the possibilities of your snacks and meals. You could also look into meeting with a registered dietitian for specific medical advice and easy recipes that fit your dietary goals.
After all, one of the best ways to have a nutritious diet is by including a range of vibrant colors on your plate. There’s more than one way to prepare fruits and vegetables, and most people could use more of them (whether they have spondylitis or not). Give a little extra thought to your snack choices, not as a chore, but as a form of health promotion and self-care.
MySpondylitisTeam is the social network for people with spondylitis. On MySpondylitisTeam, more than 70,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with spondylitis.
Do you have spondylitis? What are your go-to snacks? It’s always helpful to hear from others in the same boat. Share your tips in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MySpondylitisTeam.