In this 7-day rheumatoid arthritis plan, we map out a week of healthy anti-inflammatory recipes that your taste buds and your joints will love!

Emily Lachtrupp, M.S., R.D., C.D.
September 16, 2020
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In this 7-day meal plan, we include a week of healthy anti-inflammatory recipes that aim to support healthy joints and reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Because rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, we included plenty of anti-inflammatory foods like omega-3 rich salmon, healthy fats from nuts and seeds plus antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. If you're overweight, losing weight can help alleviate some pressure on your joints. To promote weight loss, we capped the calories at 1,500 calories a day, which is a calorie level most people will lose weight following, plus included modifications for 1,200 and 2,000 calories a day, depending on your calorie needs. It's important to note that healthy weight loss is gradual weight loss (about 1 to 2 pounds per week), so if you're feeling hungry at 1,500 calories, bump it up till you feel satisfied and slowly taper down to fewer calories over the next few months.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes your body to attack its own healthy tissue. Although it most commonly impacts our joints, rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation in other areas of our body, like the skin and heart. Initial signs of rheumatoid arthritis often include swollen and painful joints, stiffness, fever and fatigue. If you have some of these symptoms, be sure to discuss it with your medical provider.

Can What You Eat Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Although it most often requires medical intervention, rheumatoid arthritis natural treatments certainly include a healthy diet. Due to its inflammatory nature, the recommended rheumatoid arthritis diet is essentially the anti-inflammatory diet and the Mediterranean diet. While eating a healthy diet won't necessarily "cure" rheumatoid arthritis as its an autoimmune disease, both the Mediterranean diet and the anti-inflammatory diet would be encouraged. The diets are very similar—both include plenty of fresh produce, healthy fats from seafood, avocados, nuts and seeds and whole grains while limited processed foods, refined grains and excess sugar.

Healthy Foods to Eat for Rheumatoid Arthritis:

While there are certain foods that reduce inflammation and foods that tend to increase inflammation, it's important to note that there may be individual trigger foods for you personally. For example, some people with rheumatoid arthritis might notice a certain food can increase their pain while a different person may have no issues with that particular food. Try to be in tune with your body and its reactions to best pinpoint your individual triggers. For most people, it's recommended to increase healthy fats and omega-3 rich foods, like salmon, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Plus, focus on fruits and vegetables, especially those that are particularly nutrient-rich like dark leafy greens and blue or purple fruits, like berries and pomegranate. To reduce inflammation, limit refined grains, like white flour and sugar, plus try to limit processed foods as they tend to be high in unhealthy trans fats as well as omega-6 fatty acids, which aren't "bad", but just something we tend to eat too much of, which can cause inflammation.

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Make Berry Chia Pudding to have for breakfast on Days 2 through 4.
  2. Prepare Chopped Veggie Grain Bowls with Turmeric Dressing to have for lunch on Days 2 through 5.

Day 1

Breakfast (299 calories)

A.M. Snack (164 calories)

  • 1/4 cup dried walnut halves

Lunch (361 calories)

P.M. Snack (193 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter

Dinner (484 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,500 calories, 56 g protein, 172 g carbohydrates, 39 g fiber, 77 g fat, 1,141 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 clementine and change the P.M. snack to 1 plum.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and increase to 3 Tbsp. almond butter at P.M. snack.

Day 2

Breakfast (343 calories)

A.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (367 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Dinner (432 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,479 calories, 63 g protein, 178 g carbohydrates, 44 g fiber, 62 g fat, 777 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 clementine and change the P.M. snack to 1 plum.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and add 1/3 cup dried walnut halves to A.M. snack.

Day 3

Breakfast (343 calories)

A.M. Snack (187 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries

Lunch (367 calories)

P.M. Snack (164 calories)

  • 1/4 cup dried walnut halves

Dinner (464 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,524 calories, 67 g protein, 162 g carbohydrates, 40 g fiber, 73 g fat, 1,242 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the yogurt at the A.M. snack and change the P.M. snack to 1/4 cup sliced cucumber.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast, add 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts to A.M. snack and add 1 medium apple to P.M. snack.

Day 4

Breakfast (343 calories)

A.M. Snack (95 calories)

  • 1 medium apple

Lunch (367 calories)

P.M. Snack (164 calories)

  • 1/4 cup dried walnut halves

Dinner (540 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,508 calories, 62 g protein, 150 g carbohydrates, 42 g fiber, 79 g fat, 1,096 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 clementine, reduce to 10 dried walnut halves at P.M. snack and omit the Cucumber & Avocado Salad at dinner.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and add 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter to P.M. snack.

Day 5

Breakfast (282 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

A.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Lunch (367 calories)

P.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Dinner (504 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,491 calories, 62 g protein, 174 g carbohydrates, 37 g fiber, 66 g fat, 664 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 plum and change the P.M. snack to 1/4 cup blueberries.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and add 1/3 cup dried walnut halves to P.M. snack.

Day 6

Breakfast (299 calories)

A.M. Snack (291 calories)

  • 1 medium apple
  • 2 Tbsp. almond butter

Lunch (347 calories)

P.M. Snack (131 calories)

  • 1 large pear

Dinner (442 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,510 calories, 56 g protein, 173 g carbohydrates, 43 g fiber, 76 g fat, 876 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Omit the almond butter at the A.M. snack and change the P.M. snack to 1 plum.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast and 1/4 dry-roasted unsalted almonds to P.M. snack.

Day 7

Breakfast (299 calories)

A.M. Snack (206 calories)

  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted unsalted almonds

Lunch (347 calories)

P.M. Snack (234 calories)

  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

Dinner (402 calories)

Daily Totals: 1,489 calories, 81 g protein, 141 g carbohydrates, 38 g fiber, 75 g fat, 779 mg sodium

To Make it 1,200 Calories: Change the A.M. snack to 1 clementine and reduce to 1/2 cup yogurt plus omit the chopped walnuts at the P.M. snack.

To Make it 2,000 Calories: Add 1 serving Sprouted-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter & Banana to breakfast, add 1 large pear to A.M. snack and increase to 3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts at P.M. snack.