Thursday, April 26, 2012

Say No to Nightshades

I was asked to write a blog post for my boss about the No-Nightshade diet for her patients who suffer from arthritis, inflammation and chronic pain. This blog post is dedicated to my mom.  I hope she reads this and thinks about trying this diet because I would love for her to not hurt so much all of the time. I love you mom.
Painful inflammation is a problem for so many people, especially those with arthritis or other forms of chronic pain. For some people, it is recommended to try a No-Nightshade Diet for about 6-12 weeks to alleviate or eliminate the pain. A No-Nightshade Diet is a diet specifically designed to eliminate certain foods that contain alkaloid compounds that can build up in our tissues and alter our metabolism in a negative way. 

Foods known as Nightshades that contain these toxic alkaloids are:
- Bell peppers (green, red, yellow and orange peppers)
- Chili peppers (Jalapeno, Anaheim, Fresno, Pimento, Ancho, Chipotle, Habanero…etc)
- Eggplant
- Potatoes (all types but not including sweet potatoes)
- Tomatoes
- Tomatillos
Spices – typical in ethnic cuisines such as Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean, African, Indian, and East Asian.
- Cayenne
- Chili powder
- Curry powder
- Paprika
- Cape gooseberry
- Goji berry
- Pepino
- Tamarillo
- Tobacco

There are four mains tricks for success in this diet. The first is to be true to the diet because  some people are highly sensitive to these foods and even just a tiny bit (sneaking a french fry off of your friend’s plate) can trigger pain.

The second is to prepare your own food to ensure that you know exactly what is going into your mouth. Nightshades can sneak into so many processed and store bought foods such as gravy, sauces, fish sauce, condiments, salad dressings, baked beans, nuts, seasonings, breads, baked goods, crackers, breadings, stuffings, and cola drinks.  They may also be labeled on packages as flavours, natural flavours, natural flavourings, spices, potato starch, food starch, vegetable starch or vegetable protein, so you have to think of all the little extras that you add to your food to ensure that total elimination happens in your meals.

The third trick to success is to not be deprived and to know what you can have and what you can use to spice up your meals. If you love potatoes, try substituting into your diet foods like turnips, sweet potatoes, fried plantains and artichokes. Use summer squashes and zucchini in place of tomatoes.  Add lots of flavourful herbs and spice to your meals with garlic, cumin, basil, rosemary, oregano, turmeric, ginger, chives and onion.

The fourth and most important tip is to track everything you eat and write down your symptoms each day. Over time you will be able to track if and how long it took for the pain to subside. If your symptoms disappear while on the diet, you will know that nightshades are affecting your health and that their elimination will prove to be an effective long-term treatment for you. Plus, you can take the diet further and introduce one nightshade back at a time. For example, add just tomatoes back to the diet. If your pain gets worse again, take the tomatoes out and wait for the pain to subside. Then add green peppers back to your diet. Maybe they won’t bother you like the tomatoes did. Maybe they will. Each person reacts to these food items differently and some people may react to some foods but not others. Carefully tracking your food and symptoms is the key to knowing how your body responds to nightshades.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cubed
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp cup of olive oil

- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoon basil
- Dash of salt and black pepper
- 1 cup of sodium reduced chicken broth
- A few dashes of white wine (optional)
- Sprinkle of Romano cheese (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat the oil until hot and add onions. Cook over med-high heat, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes (don’t brown it) If you are using the white wine, add at this point, then add the butternut squash, basil, chicken broth and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Cover, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until the squash is tender - about 10 minutes depending on how big the pieces are.

Next, put through your blender or food processor to make a smooth sauce (or blend it lightly for a chunky sauce). Pour over hot pasta and top with 1-2 tsp of shredded Romano cheese. Enjoy!


  1. how long before one would notice a difference?

  2. Can be anywhere from 3 days up to a few weeks depending on the person.