"Eating too much sugar, high doses of unhealthy oils and fats, stress, and lack of exercise can all cause the injury that leads to inflammation," explains Pines. So if you're doing those things often, it's going to ramp up the amount of time your body is inflamed—just like when you get a nasty bruise from repeatedly hitting the same area of your body. Pines says the biggest clue that you might be having a problem is, well, your belly. "If you've been 'dieting' and you still have that belly bulge, look at nutrition labels to see how much sugar or sodium is sneaking in," she suggests. She also suggests adding inflammation-busting foods into your diet, like a cup of blueberries in oatmeal, or a half-cup of edamame with lunch.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL