Book Review: Meals that Heal Inflammation

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Author: Julie Daniluk, RHN
Publisher: Random House Canada
Book Publication: 2011

I can’t decide whether to give this book to my doctor or put it in my kitchen. Maybe I’ll do both.

In her deep desire to find a path to health using food as medicine, nutritionist and consultant Julie Daniluk asked, “Why are we hurting so much in this era of so many seeming advances?” In her search for an answer, she examined the causes of inflammation, including the emotional ones, and the intimate connection between inflammation, the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, and infection. She shares her findings in a new book, Meals that Heal Inflammation. The book also contains two chapters, “The Anti-Inflammatory Menu Plan” and “The Recipes,” which explain how to prepare fast, healthy, and decadent meals.

This book is both a labour of love and the culmination of a life-long journey. Contrasting the way we fuel our cars with the way we feed our bodies, the author explores the relationship between a consistent, daily choice of whole, healthy foods and the boundless energy and joy we experience as children. In the book’s foreword, Dr. Zoltan Rona identifies inflammation as the chief barrier to healthy, pain-free living. “Inflammation is the number-one reason that an individual consults any health care practitioner,” Rona writes, naming a litany of health challenges linked to inflammation including coronary disease, obesity, dementia, Alzheimer’s, infections, allergies, and “virtually all autoimmune diseases.” If the doctor’s diagnosis ends in  ‘itis,’ then by definition, inflammation is involved, Rona explains.

Meals that Heal Inflammation offers an alternative to the conventional approach – i.e., drugs and surgery, both of which can create more problems than they solve. The natural approach to preventing inflammation, we learn, is backed by overwhelming scientific evidence. We can indeed reduce, prevent and ultimately eliminate inflammation by addressing its root causes, whether or not our doctor agrees this is possible.

Offering her book as “a catalyst for change,” Daniluk presents a solution in two parts. The first outlines the science of inflammation; the second features recipes, photos, reference guides and tips on how to redirect both your kitchen and your mind toward a healthier vision of food. Each section supports the other but also stands on its own as a guide for the reader through his or her own unique journey toward nutritional healing.

Julie inspires with the personal story of what led her to question the diet she grew up on. It’s a fascinating tale. As I read it, I found myself ruminating on my own childhood experiences of food (‘good’ and ‘bad’) and the habits I formed as a result. Becoming conscious of how these influences have played out in our lives is part of the process of making a change. Particularly riveting is the author’s depiction of how and why unhealthy foods became, for her, a weapon of self-abuse. A thoughtful exploration of this subject, and the notion of ‘food as a weapon’ is expanded upon in a chapter on emotional healing.

This book is the result of years of dedication, education and determination to help others find their way to a renewed energy and joy in life. Daniluk makes such a convincing case for eating well, I actually believe her when she says she now craves blueberries over chocolate cake. As she explains it, the pain associated with eating unhealthy food just isn’t worth it! It’s a choice, and we make it every day, every meal. The recipes and inspiration in Meals that Heal Inflammation will help you make the right choice.

My fave recipes so far include: Krispy Kale Chips (my sons love these); the Best Carrot Cake EVER; Raw Pad Thai; African Nut Butter Stew; Shepherd’s Pie (including a vegetarian version); Pomegranate Poached Halibut; and Ginger Lemonade Ice Pops (can’t wait to surprise the youngest tykes in the family with these!)


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