A combination of swollen legs and ankles is so common that the phenomenon even got a special nick-name: “cankles” .
“Cankles” are calves joining knees with ankles without any change in leg size.
Swollen legs neither look pretty nor are a sign of good health (do you know what these 9 body signs indicate?).
The causes of swollen legs usually lie in lymphatic and venous stasis, which, in turn, are due to chronic imbalance between body water and minerals.
Nutritional directions for swollen legs
Let’s say you have a party to go to and you have already picked your favorite outfit. All nice, but it happens that the dress is not long enough to hide your swollen legs. What’s worse is that as the party goes on and you are dancing into the night, your feet may swell out of your shoes. What do you do to prevent such disaster?
You can do it in two ways, via:
- beauty shortcuts: for that you can use dandelion tea or this special formula for excess water, or
- proper self-care AKA improving your health; that can take longer, but the results are going to be permanent
Swollen legs are a sign of poor health, which usually comes from poor self-care due to misinformation. Cankles don’t happen on their own, so here is a test for you:
Are you well-informed ?
Balancing water and minerals is an enormous topic, so I will need to dedicate several posts to explain what causes such changes and how to permanently bring the balance back.
Today however, I want to focus on foods that can temporarily remove excess water from the body and thus slim down the unsightly “cankles” for “the wedding tomorrow”.
Two day cure for swollen legs
Your party preparation needs to start at least 48 hours before. This is how long it would take you to remove your swollen legs (in a healthier fashion). As an added bonus the tips below may also flatten your stomach and slim your thighs.
It will take some focus and determination, but 48 hours is worth the trouble. The steps below will not only make you healthier, but also will teach you how your body should feel after two nice days of anti-inflammatory effort.
First, let’s get rid of the foods that bring excess water into the body and cause ankle swelling.
1 – Remove sugar to remove puffiness
Sugar loves water and will make your body hold much more than it’s healthy share. So, where is sugar coming from? The obvious source is sugar in your daily tea and coffee. Although you may be already planning to give it up, you need to know that those may be the least important sugar sources for you.
Hidden sources of sugar
Pop and treats
A much bigger load of sugar comes from the following: pop, syrups, jams, cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, muffins, waffles, and chocolate. These can really contribute to swollen feet. To remove excess sugar get yourself treats that are free of it like these soft and chewy keto-brownies.
Snack bars, energy bars, and fruit bars
They often contain added sugar, glucose-fructose, honey, or corn syrup; check the labels carefully to identify any sweeteners promoting swollen legs.
A typical cereal bar contains 4 added cubes of sugar and additionally the body will convert the cereals into another 4 cubes, giving your body a jolt of 8 sugar cubes consumed as a snack. These 8 sugar cubes can really add to body puffiness. Fortunately, zero-carb snacks are readily available. See this one: perfect near zero-carb yum-healthy snack
Fruit juice, ice tea, lemonade, flavored water, sports drinks
Juices are notorious for their sugar content. A bottle of ice tea can contain as much as 8 cubes of sugar in a medium cup. To compare a regular coke will contain 10 cubes of sugar in the same amount.
What about fruit juices? Surprise! A bottle of unsweetened apple juice will have exactly the same amount of naturally occurring sugars as coke from added sugar. I am not sure if those extra vitamins from the juice are worth all that sugar and your swollen legs. Maybe instead you can get some ice tea mix sweetened with stevia.
Although dried fruit is healthier than candy dried fruit carries a surprisingly large amount of sugar. Sunsweet sweetened cranberries have an equivalent of 9 cubes of sugar in 1/3 of a cup. A mini box of raisins has an equivalent of 3 cubes of sugar.
Yogurt is naturally sour, so to help with taste manufacturers add sugar. For example the average yogurt contains approximately 10 cubes of sugar in a 8oz cup. Some is naturally occurring some is added. Although choosing yogurt without sugar will sure help your swollen legs, do not fall for artificially sweetened variety which isn’t any healthier.
2 – Remove Starch
Starch is nothing, but a pile of glucose molecules link together. Think of starch and flour as sugar that does not taste sweet.
You can easily identify starchy foods yourself: bread, pizza, pasta, muffins, bagels, rolls, buns. These are easy to remember, because everyone talks about them.
However, there are some starchy foods you may not think much of: pitas, wraps, flatbreads, tortillas breakfast cereals, muesli, oatmeal, kasha, couscous, and barley.
How much starch converts to sugar? All of it! A medium bagel will convert into 14 cubes of sugar, a single pack (50g) of unflavored dry oats will convert into 9 cubes of sugar, and a burrito-size tortilla into 11 cubes of sugar. Yikes! See if switching to near zero-carb wraps would temporarily alleviate your starchy temptations.
Your swollen legs will love any non-starchy solution, but they may be best off if you bring delicious non-starchy meals into your kitchen permanently. Refer to 69 Pleasures for guidance. This super-simple cookbook will give you 69 non-starchy mouth-watering recipes.
3 – Remove Salt
Every time you eat salty foods you will get thirsty and your body will ask for water. The more water inside you, the bigger the potential for swollen legs. As I mentioned at the beginning it will take a few days to get rid of that water, so if you do not want to have swollen legs you will need to also remove salty foods at least two days before your party.
Extra salt in your diet does not really come from the salt shaker, but from processed foods. Here is a short list of the most salted foods: bacon, ready-made soups, cold cuts, kielbasa, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, canned meals, take out foods, and condiments.
Daily recommended intake for sodium is 1,500mg/day. If you get more than that the body will hold extra water. Half a cup of cottage cheese has 500mg of sodium, Pizza Hut Personal Pan pepperoni pizza 1,500mg, 2 slices of bacon 750mg, and 1 tbsp of Creole mustard has 500mg. Be on the lookout as sodium easily adds up, and with it the water in your legs.
Ok, here are water purging quickies for swollen legs
If you remove sugar, starch, and salt you are already half way to a slim body and thin ankles instead of swollen cankles. The other part of the success lies in the addition of foods that will help you with mineral balance and speeding up water removal. There are seven special foods that do just that. I listed them on a downloadable chart that you can print and post on your fridge. The chart also contains two special juice recipes that help in the fight against swollen legs.
Now you are ready to put on that dress, party without swollen legs and feel light on your feet. And if you like this state of lightness enough you may tell your friends that you have a party every day, so you can have an excuse to eat better and look gorgeous every day.
Hi love this blog. sorry my english not so good. i am from poland
Great article. I know it’s a little old, but I’m hoping you will still appreciate my comments. I am looking forward to checking out your other articles.
I have been suffering with leg/foot/ankle edema for many months. I am a long distance runner, and not overweight so I normally don’t worry about carbs. I am going to try your steps as a last resort because I’ve looked at and tried everything else already for my edema.
My salt intake is low and my blood tests show that I am mid-range of acceptable sodium readings (139). I don’t eat any processed or prepared foods and I don’t eat out because of a few allergies (onion/garlic). I also, don’t eat any junk food other than healthy granola bars or protein bars (18 Rabbits and Raw Rev Glo Creamy Peanut Butter). My main beverage is water which I drink a good quantity of, but I don’t force it. Also, I drink a few cups of coffee per day and some milk. How do you feel about milk for this diet? I usually drink nonfat organic, but I put 2% in my coffee with stevia extract liquid.
My urine test showed low levels of proteinuria so I am scheduled to see a kidney specialist, but my doctor thinks the proteinuria could just be from exercising before my urine test. It’s probably nothing.
I have not been doing much resistance training lately. Could that make the difference? Do you think if I started hitting the weights more regularly, that might be enough so that I don’t have to change my diet? I used to go to the gym very regularly, but I have fallen off the wagon this year and that is when I noticed the edema developing. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together until very recently, but I don’t know that much about glycogen storage/depletion etc.
Running immediately improves the edema ( I have to stop about 20-30 minutes into my run and tighten my shoe laces ). As long as I do cardio every day, the edema is bearable. The problem is on the days when I don’t do any cardio. If I take more than one day off, the edema gets very uncomfortable and unattractive.
I hate to change my diet. I am a hungry girl and it’s hard to get enough variety to eat when you cut carbs. Also, I consider carbs to be convenience foods. It takes more time and effort to prepare a low carb meal. I usually only like to spend time preparing a good dinner, but like easy stuff for my other meals. Do you have any other articles about low carbing?
I had a similar situation in the past. I developed ankle edema for an “unknown” reason. Initially I thought it was from a wrong diet that did not match my running routine. However, cutting out salt, carbs, playing with potassium and diuretics, avoiding any possible food allergens, and going on a short fast did not make an iota of difference. Supplements did not do anything either. The legs were visibly swollen and feeling very heavy. I had it for a few weeks.
The rescue came unexpectedly from my homeopathic cabinet. I used Apis 200CH. One dose per day. In two days there was no more swelling. I had to repeat Apis 200CH about 4-5 times, but that’s about it. I never had swollen ankles/feet since then. This was 8 years ago.
Dear Dr D. Thank you for these useful tips. My feet used to swell a lot and i was wondering what was causing this. I am also hypertensive. I have stopped using sugar for nearly a month now and cut down on my starch (we eat sadza in Zimbabwe which is made of maize). The amazing that that i noticed during this first week of this diet is that my feet slimmed down and they are no longer swelling. I have also lost weight and my blood pressure has gone down from 151/125 to 121/88. Cutting down on sugar and carbs sure does work and i would not hesitate to urge others in a similar predicament to consider your tips. Excellent stuff and life saving too !!
Thanks a million for your comment, Cynthia.
Small steps…. huge effects.
This is over year old I really hope someone sees and reads it I’m 64vgot various health issues last year my left leg all sudden started to swell when I least expected it We’d just had new VERYVERY young younger than my sons doctor dtsrt atbour clinic he tells me I’d sprang it and forgotten Well I knew I hadn’t he ordered test never heard anything because hospital didn’t send him the dang test but showed I had pneumonia All summer I was just yuckie tired but not sick I’m not one to run to d% I go for my checkups Being one that never went then suddenly theres. Surgery chemo breast gone Chemo found everything I didn’t know I had wrong bwck to swelling Blood test showed anemic last week Ive hadctomtake B12 for years I started the quit smoking process Jan 1 2017 Then came sour candy lots lots czndy 15+lbs candy in month Legs all sudden swelled I slept with them in air last night you know this morning was fjne got doing morning stuff wasn’t long swelling was back I’d really like to try something else before Please you can rmail me firstname.lastname@example.org I’m just tured being alone no one tomtalk to to help me going dr by myself Thank you Sorry for pity party not usually like this usually don’t tell anyone Been few days ofvannoying events
Wow really wish there’d been edit Words was so faint could hardly see what your writing but I see tons of mistakes after it was posted I’m embarrassed about I don’t know who sets up the way comments are posted but please darken your words
OOps! This is not just one issue. It looks like very many. You need a full body overhaul by somebody locally. Look for a qualified person that would be able to help you restore health, not just treat diseases. Look for someone who has credentials, can order lab reports, and analyse research, not just somebody who wishes well or is a good talker. Be selective. Your situation needs a highly qualified clinician with lots of experience. You need a comprehensive care, not a random advice from Dr.Google or your friends.
Get better soon. DrD
No worries. Spelling mistakes don`t define characters.
What about steel cut Oatmeal? Good or bad?
Steel cut oatmeal that is grown in a high-nutrient soil and is not sprayed with pesticides is good for healthy people. Steel cut oatmeal that is grown is poor soil and is sprayed with agri-chemicals is not good for anybody unless one is in dire need of calories and health is secondary.
When health is compromised, especially when a person is overweight, oatmeal (any oatmeal) should be limited due to high carb content.
Hi I’ve just been looking at the different comments, my hubs has just been diagnosed as type 2 diabetic, so were cutting the carbs down quite a bit, I’m eating what he’s eating as we both want and need to loose wieght
Last week we were doing great, I suffer from lymphadaema and reacurring cellilitis from the dvts that’s I’ve had in the past so my venus return isn’t much good
For once I wasn’t swollen, it gave me confidence and I had lost wieght, we’ve had a few meals out this week for birthdays, trouble is now my left leg is back to its normal self swollen
Is it normal to feel thirsty when your swollen, I feel swollen in my tummy, well everywhere that I thought that id lost the wieght
First and foremost: if you eat out, don’t expect to get better. Restaurants don’t cater to health, they cater to taste and profit. Make up your mind about health and only then proceed. Going one step forward and one step back wont do anything except frustrating you.
Thirst and swelling does not go together. Thirst however, frequently follows sodium (eating out), which then makes you drink, which then makes you swollen. It takes about 2 days to un-swell after reverting to non-swell diet (usually home cooking).
Getting fat-slimmer takes time. Water retention (which accumulated due to inflammation) disappears within a few day. This may give an illusion of being slimmer. However, it takes several weeks to actually tap into fat deposits. Until then don’t even consider eating out, even for birthday. If birthday is a celebration of life and health then go out for a walk, stop doing something that harms you. It simply does not make sense.
Your blogging was on point..I thought I was eating fairly healthy….but my feet kept swelling g ,first the right then the left for six weeks.. I was scared to eat much…thenI realized ..it was my diet.Very little meat..but,
Oatmeal, bagels, cream cheese, tortillas spoonful chicken,saltines American cheese, anchovies, sardines, 2 slices of bacon, eggs with shredded cheese and then not enough water 32 oz. A day…Now that I know better, I will do better
What is Apis 200CH?
It is a homeopathic remedy.
My calves have been swelling so I started eating lots of salad with tuna salad, eat small amounts of rice with curry vegetables or chicken tikka, beans, nuts, and fruit and the swelling went away. I had coffee and cacao in the afternoon today and the swelling came back though ;).
Great article. Thank you!
My conclusion is that you body does not like either.