How to Manage Gout During the Holiday Season
The holidays provide an interesting blend of family, friends, food and, well … stress and exhaustion! We all love spending time with the favorite people in our lives, and the holidays certainly provide many opportunities to do just that!
Of course, this also comes with an array of obligations – finding the perfect gifts, trying to keep everything scheduled, and preparing dishes for holiday celebrations. In fact, food has a starring role during this season, which can make it tough for those of you wondering how to manage gout.
This form of arthritis can cause sharp, stabbing pain (usually in your big toe), putting a real damper on your holiday plans. What’s worse, these attacks can linger, reoccur, and even cause long-lasting damage to your joints, too!
But no worries – Sierra Foot & Ankle is here to help you steer clear of gout flare ups, so you can spend this time of year enjoying the important things in life. It all starts by looking at how this condition develops and why gout management is so important in the first place.
Managing Gout During the Holidays
Gout is an arthritic condition that is directly affected by dietary choices. It develops in response to heightened levels of uric acid – a natural byproduct of food breakdown – in the bloodstream. When the body either produces too much or is unable to remove uric acid from the system, it builds up and ultimately settles and crystallizes in and around joints. Most of the time, the uric acid settles into the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint located at the base of the big toe, and symptoms are often experienced in that area.
Uric crystals have sharp edges, which can irritate the soft connective tissues in this area. The result? Periodic bouts of intense pain. In fact, the pain can be so severe that even a light bedsheet touching the inflamed area can hurt enough to keep you up at night!
That’s why making the right dietary choices is key, like eating foods that are low in purines and drinking plenty of water (to flush the uric acid out of the system). This includes limiting sweets, which happens to be a staple of holiday celebrations.
(In some cases, you may also need prescription medication that helps by either improving uric acid removal or blocking its production.)
So what does that mean? Are you doomed to only eating salad while everyone else feasts at the Thanksgiving table? Not at all! There are plenty of delicious meals you can have, and when you incorporate them into your diet, they can help you manage gout, reduce painful flares, and keep you doing the things you love to do.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
A good way to reduce the temptation to over-indulge in holiday cookies, candies, and other sweets is by avoiding going to festive events on a growling empty stomach and make sure you are well hydrated with water.
If you are hosting your own “get-together,” you can serve foods that are both healthy and delicious.
Here are some food options to keep in mind:
- Beans and legumes
- Low-fat dairy
- Whole grains
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruits and veggies, including cherries, spinach and other dark, leafy greens, peas, asparagus, cauliflower, and mushrooms
You don’t have to totally give up on meat. Just keep your portions reasonable, and reach for meats that are relatively low in purines, like chicken, turkey, and pork. These choices also help keep your cholesterol low. Remember, a single serving is the size of the palm of your hand.
When you dig into these low-purine options in addition to maintaining other healthy lifestyle choices (which we will get to here in a bit), you can finally say goodbye to gout flares for good!
Other Healthy Habits to Keep in Mind
As we have already mentioned, though sticking to a good diet is one of the best things you can do to manage gout, there are other key elements you should keep in mind to help you steer clear from flares during the holiday season – or any time of year, for that matter.
- Limiting the amount of organ meats: sardines, anchovies, and red meats you eat, as these foods are high in purines.
- Drinking plenty of the right kinds of fluids (like water) to keep hydrated.
- Avoiding sweetened beverages and snacks, especially those containing fructose, high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar, which have been linked to higher risk of gout.
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, especially beer. However, moderate wine drinking does not appear to increase your risk of gout.
We certainly hope these tips will help you keep your feet pain-free now and in the future. But if you would like more information on gout management, or need professional help to treat your condition, simply give us a call at (775) 783-8037 to schedule an appointment today. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions and arrange your visit at our Carson City office.
Prefer to connect with us online? That’s cool, too! Just fill out our contact form and a member of our staff will reach out to you shortly.