If you’ve already experienced the intense pain and swelling in your big toe that’s a key sign of a form of arthritis called gout, the last thing you want to do is trigger another attack. Thanks to your rheumatologist, you’ve been pretty good about sticking to your diet, avoiding foods that trigger gout, and keeping active. But now it’s Thanksgiving, and you’ll be surrounded by temptations.
At the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey — conveniently located in Princeton, Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe — we know how important it is to avoid foods that trigger your gout, but we also know how important it is to fully enjoy an important holiday like Thanksgiving with family and friends.
Our doctors offer these five tips to help you get through the holidays with ease:
1. Load up on veggies
String bean casseroles, mashed potatoes, roasted Brussel sprouts, and salads are tasty and filling. If you’re asked to bring a dish, or if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to focus on healthy vegetable dishes. But check your recipes and the serving bowls for problematic ingredients such as bacon (which has purines) and sugar (skip the marshmallows).
2. Be moderate
Sure, the feeling of stuffing your tummy with the amazing spread before you is satisfying and one of the sensations you most look forward to each year. But stressing your digestive system with too much food makes it more difficult for you to process purines.
Start with small portions. Concentrate on the colors, flavors, and other sensations that go along with good food. Eating to the point of fullness isn’t actually healthy for anyone, so stop before you get there. You’ll thank yourself later.
3. Trade wine for water
While you may be able to handle two glasses of wine (if you’re a man) or one (if you’re a woman) without causing a gout flare-up, be sure you don’t go over the limit. Alcohol also impairs your judgment, so if wine and spirits tend to loosen the reins on your eating, it’s extra important to stick to your limit.
You can make water and seltzer feel more festive by drinking them from wine glasses. Water not only keeps you hydrated; it helps you feel more satisfied faster and aids in digesting the rest of your Thanksgiving meal more efficiently. Aim for at least two 8-ounce glasses with your dinner.
4. Mind your protein
While a well-browned turkey makes an appearance on most Thanksgiving tables, you may be faced with an array of other tempting proteins, including shellfish and beef. Shellfish are loaded with purines that can cause an instant attack, so don’t even try a bite. Stay safer with small portions of turkey and skip the other offerings.
5. Take care of your body
Both traveling and hosting can be stressful, so whichever you do, be sure to attend to your body’s signals. Don’t skimp on exercise simply because it’s a holiday. Take a walk after meals to stimulate digestion, and rest when you’re tired.
You don’t have to feel deprived of family fun and holiday cheer just because you have gout. And if you do have an attack, contact the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey for help. Use the online form or call one of our four locations.