Experiencing Chronic Pain? These 5 Foods May Be Making it Worse

Dieting is extremely popular, but many trendy foods can actually exacerbate your chronic pain. Don’t simply count calories. Avoid these five foods to be healthy AND feel great!


There’s no denying America’s obsession with dietary fads and trends. In fact, up to 66% of Americans are on a “diet” at any given time, with scare quotes very much intended. But what many people don’t realize is that cutting calories alone doesn’t equate to healthiness.

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While there are plenty of natural foods that can have holistic healing benefits, there are also countless foods that could actually be exacerbating your chronic pain. Here are just a few foods to avoid to help keep your chronic pain at bay. Our list of five begins with a fan favorite.



Many people think that a drink or two can help them to cope with their pain and feel temporary relief. While it’s true that alcohol may provide temporary pain relief, its negative side effects completely outweigh any temporary relief you might feel. If you’ve ever experienced a hangover, you know that inflammation is a symptom. Thus, your pain will only be worse the next day. Don’t give in to the temptation to dull the pain with booze! Choose a hot tea or stick with one drink before bedtime, if you must.


As difficult as it may be, you’ll have to ignore your sweet tooth and opt for treats without sugar if you want to keep chronic pain at bay. Sure, the natural sugars in fruits and other non-processed foods are fine in moderation. However, too much sugar can cause a slew of problems — and not just those related to chronic pain. According to an AACD survey, virtually all adults (99.7%) surveyed believe a healthy smile is socially important, but sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay, which has become 20 times more common than diabetes. If you have a habit of indulging in sweet treats more often than you should, try to gradually cut down on things like pastries, candy, soda, and other processed foods. But don’t worry — as mentioned, there are still some ways you can enjoy some sweetness in your diet.

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“If you must add sweetener to your coffee or oatmeal, choose whole, minimally processed sweeteners like raw honey, stevia, or blackstrap molasses. Fruit and natural sweeteners give you some fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants to go along with that sweetness,” says BackPainOK.

Nightshade Vegetables

It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true: for some people, nightshade veggies like potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes trigger pain conditions like arthritis. It may help to moderate your intake of these veggies if they’re a part of your diet.

Processed Foods

As mentioned, processed foods have skyrocketed in production in recent years. They’re hard to avoid, but avoiding them is essential for keeping chronic pain away. Processed foods worsen chronic pain because of the countless additives they’re filled with. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is just one common example. Experts say MSG is one of the most common additives known for worsening chronic pain conditions.

“MSG is an excitatory neurotransmitter that may stimulate pain receptors; glutamate levels in spinal fluid have been shown to correlate with pain levels in fibromyalgia patients,” says Mercola.

Factory-Farmed Meat and Poultry

Finally, traditionally raised meat and poultry can also cause problems for those who suffer from chronic pain. Like processed foods, they can be difficult (and expensive) to avoid. But choosing humanely raised animals (grass-fed beef, pork, and poultry) can result in some major health improvements. That’s because these meats have a better-balanced ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s.



Overall, experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. But whatever type of chronic pain you’re experiencing, it’s important to understand the effects of your diet as well.



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