Figuring out what to eat when you have psoriasis can feel like solving a riddle. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all psoriasis diet, what works well for one person can cause flare-ups in another. As a result, many people with psoriasis cautiously read ingredient lists and may be afraid to experiment with different foods. But what if you just want a quick bite to eat?
Everyone is different, but taking the time to figure out your trigger foods and find safe, go-to snacks can make life with psoriasis easier. We gathered tips from MyPsoriasisTeam members and looked into the latest research to give you some options to consider on your next trip to the grocery store.
A healthy diet with nutritious snacks can help reduce psoriasis symptoms while promoting weight loss and better overall health. One MyPsoriasisTeam member reported: “In five months, I have lost 40 pounds. I eat sensibly and work out each day. My snacks are sweet and salty bars or fruit.” Not every snack needs to be nutrient-packed, but finding creative ways to meet your body’s nutrient needs is essential.
Swapping out processed foods for whole foods can help you incorporate snacks with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
For example, instead of packaged snacks, grab a piece of fresh fruit. Whole grains, like popcorn and whole-wheat crackers, are an easy substitute for chips or pretzels. Add in some healthy fats with fresh guacamole or hummus made with olive oil. A handful of nuts or seeds is a crunchy and nutritious alternative to sugary cereals or granola bars when you’re looking for a handy snack to keep in your bag.
To maintain steady energy levels, aim for bite-size portions of protein for snacking. Studies show that snacks higher in protein and fiber (like roasted chickpeas) promote satiety (a feeling of fullness) and a healthier body weight, which is crucial for people with psoriasis.
Many protein shakes and bars are tailored to meet different dietary needs. You can find gluten-free, lactose-free, low-carbohydrate, vegan, paleo, and other variations of protein shakes and bars to work around your preferences or known food intolerances.
However, some people with psoriasis prefer to stick with natural protein sources, including:
You can also eat typical “meal items” for snacks. Other suggestions for quick and filling protein boosts between meals include chopped, baked chicken breast; scrambled eggs; or firm tofu in a whole-grain tortilla with hummus.
Several members on MyPsoriasisTeam have said getting lots of greens in their diet reduces symptoms significantly. While you may not consider a leafy green salad a snack, blending a green smoothie with fresh or frozen spinach is an easy way to take in more nutrients between meals.
Kale chips are a healthier alternative to processed snacks like potato chips and pretzels, especially if you make them yourself. A member of MyPsoriasisTeam said, “I have found a new snack I love … seaweed snacks! YUMMY! I think they help keep me from the bad stuff, and I enjoy the crunch!”
Other members go for celery when they’re looking for a healthy snack. “I did celery juicing in the mornings, went vegetarian for a month, and used coconut oil. Amazingly, after a month, my inflammation, rashes, and redness subsided,” shared one member. Another said, “Celery is my go-to snack! I cut it up into inch-long pieces. I also drink 100 ounces of water a day, and it really helps!”
Research shows that people with autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis should avoid foods known to cause inflammation. The top inflammatory foods include red meat, saturated fatty acids, and simple sugars. It helps to know your individual triggers. One MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote, “Find out what food groups make you itch. I find saturated fats and certain chocolates are brutal … . Cut out one food group at a time, and see what causes a psoriasis flare-up.”
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that health professionals recommend limiting bacon and desserts, but other reported trigger foods for psoriasis aren’t necessarily unhealthy. For instance, some members of MyPsoriasisTeam swear by the benefits of avoiding gluten, nightshade vegetables, or dairy. However, aside from anecdotal evidence from individuals, there’s no clear research on the health benefits of avoiding nightshades unless you have a known intolerance to them.
An underlying food allergy could be contributing to your flare-ups, so ask your doctor about an allergy test. You can also talk to a dietitian about an elimination diet. A MyPsoriasisTeam member shared: “The food intolerance test made picking the right foods much easier for me. I would NEVER have guessed that I am flaring up after drinking tea or eating salmon, asparagus, or pineapple!”
Keeping a food diary and logging your symptoms can also help you identify which ingredients are troublesome for you. As you learn more about your body, incorporating new snacks one at a time will allow you to expand your options gradually.
Members of MyPsoraisisTeam have sworn by the benefits of food diaries. One member said, “I would echo that it is very important to track what you eat to hunt down triggers. I would also add tracking stress in your life, as well as the weather, illnesses, exercise, and other common triggers. For me, a trigger might take one to four days before it shows up. Create a simple template, print it out, keep it in the kitchen, and fill it out before you eat.”
They added, “Once you have a suspected trigger, experiment by trying it, journaling, waiting, and repeating the process several more times to confirm your suspicion. Once confirmed, don’t eat the offending food for about six months. Then try the food again and see what happens. That is what I’ve done over the years. It has been a big help.”
It is important to note that not all people living with psoriasis will have foods that trigger their flare-ups. Also, not all people with the condition will have the same food triggers. Work with your doctor or a dietitian to discover any possible food triggers you may have.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 98,200 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
What are your favorite go-to snacks? Do you have any healthy recipes to share? Post your suggestions in the comments below, or start a conversation on MyPsoriasisTeam.