If you’ve ever stubbed your toe or whacked your funny bone (ouch!), you have experienced a touch of acute pain. And while it’s never fun to experience, thankfully, the pain passes, and you can resume your daily routine. But while acute pain is your nervous system’s standard “alert system” to notify you of an injury, chronic pain is the persistent firing of pain signals for weeks, months or years, even after any evidence of bodily harm has vanished.1
And it’s more common than you may think—affecting around 100 million Americans—more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.2 Although the absence of visible injury can make chronic pain challenging to treat, there are a number of lifestyle changes that may help your symptoms become more manageable. Here are four simple shifts you can make to help reduce chronic pain.
1. Nourish Your Body.
If you’re living with chronic pain, one of the best things you can do to manage your symptoms is to focus on your diet. Why? Inflammation is the body’s natural response to substances it perceives as toxic—and sometimes, these “toxins” are in unexpected places, like junk foods such as candy and soda.3
According to pain management experts, a healthy diet can help control insulin, cholesterol levels and potentially reduce inflammation.4 So what’s on the menu? Fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts, legumes and fish, with moderate amounts of poultry, dairy, eggs and red meat.
If you’re looking for ways to cut down on prep time while improving your diet, Jenny Craig follows expert guidelines with chef-crafted, nutritionally sound, ready-made meals.
2. Stay Active.
You probably know that regular physical activity is an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but did you know research has found that exercise may help decrease inflammation markers in patients with chronic pain?5-6 Not only is it possible to potentially reduce inflammation, but your pain perception may also improve with a consistent exercise program.7 Although moving when you’re in pain may not be your first choice, try finding an activity that you enjoy, such as walking or swimming—you may be more likely to stick with it. But make sure to consult your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program.
3. Get in the Rhythm and Eat with the Sun.
Following your body’s natural circadian rhythm, by staying active when it’s light out, sleeping when it’s dark, and eating with the sun—can have a dramatic, positive impact on your overall health.8 So it should come as no surprise that staying in sync with your natural rhythm may also help ease your chronic pain in a couple of different ways.
First, following a daylight nutrition strategy, such as time-restricted feeding, may help you manage insulin levels9 and reduce inflammation10, which are often key players when it comes to chronic pain. How can you get started? Focus on eating the majority of your food during daylight hours, specifically during a 12-hour time frame and letting your body rejuvenate for the remaining 12-hours, which includes sleep (making sure to refrain from late-night meals). So, if you have your first meal of the day at 7 a.m., you would have your last by 7 p.m. and then resume your routine the following day. Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, was developed with this daylight nutrition strategy in mind.
Researchers also believe that getting enough sleep (7–9 hours a night) may help keep pain levels in check.11 It’s during these evening hours that the hormone melatonin is naturally produced, and can serve as a powerful anti-inflammatory.12-13
4. Practice Self-Care.
Living with chronic pain can be frustrating and stressful at times. Making time for yourself and regularly practicing self-care, along with your other healthy lifestyle habits, may help provide some stress relief and calm in your everyday life. While self-care may look different for everyone, a few ideas include a warm bubble bath, yoga, meditation, massage therapy or even a carefree afternoon of retail therapy. Focusing on your well-being can nourish your mind and body in significant ways.
For more information on how Jenny Craig can help you start living an active and healthy lifestyle, book a free appointment to meet with one of our personal weight loss consultants.
 Longo, Valter D., and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell Metabolism, vol. 23, no. 6, 14 June 2016, pp. 1048–1059., doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001.
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple.
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