Thanksgiving is just a few days away which means gout attacks are more likely to happen. This is because Thanksgiving is the largest eating event of the year. Most people will eat more on this day than any other day of the year. Let’s face it. Even if you suffer from gout, you’re still prone to eating more than the usual simply because the occasion calls for it. It’s a holiday and you’re around people that you love, some of which spent hours preparing this delicious menu. It’s all nice until later in the midnight, you get a tingling sensation in your foot which can only mean one thing –a gout flare!
If you don’t want to be part of that group, you should be careful about the foods you are consuming. It can be hard to say no to certain foods and you might think, “Well, there’s no harm in eating this much of this thing just this one time, right?” However, nothing will make you regret that big serving of baked ham faster than an inflamed foot during the holiday.
I’d like to help you avoid that by sharing some tips and tricks that I’ve accumulated over the years of attending these occasions. First, let’s take a look at the most common dishes served during Thanksgiving. We’ll investigate what components make them good or bad for the gout sufferer. This will help you understand why you should avoid certain food items. Not only that, it will also allow you to find healthier alternatives ahead of time.
Turkey is the main dish served during Thanksgiving so much so that people who celebrate this holiday also call it Turkey Day. There’s nothing quite like a big, juicy turkey stuffed with flavorful vegetables and herbs, but you have to be careful with the serving sizes on this one. Turkey is white meat but the way it’s bred and served is not that healthy for you.
First of all, most turkeys are bred to be unusually large making them more prone to health problems. There’s also the new trend of deep-frying turkey. While it’s a faster way to cook turkey, it’s not exactly safe or healthy. It requires the use of canola oil for frying which is a problematic oil.
An alternative to the roasted turkey is baked ham. This is something gout patients should be careful with since it is a processed food and we all know processed foods contain carcinogenic components such as nitrite, PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) and HCAs (Heterocyclic Amines). In addition, processed foods like baked ham contain corn syrup which is another trigger for gout.
In other areas, they might use a different meat that’s native to their region. Depending on where you live, you might be eating quail, chicken, crab, beef, venison, or even whale meat as the main dish. Remember, you’ll want to avoid those red meats as they can be high in purines. Shellfish is high in purines as well. Stick to the white lean meats and you should be safe from gout attacks.
It’s not Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. It’s okay to consume potatoes for gout since it’s a low purine food. But you need to limit the gravy. This is the component that makes mashed potatoes unhealthy.
Cranberry sauce is served as a condiment or side dish served during Thanksgiving. It can be healthy or unhealthy depending on how it’s prepared. In North America, cranberry sauce is heavily sweetened making it less healthy for a gout sufferer like you. Limit your consumption of this food item especially if it’s commercial cranberry sauce.
Corn may be served on the cob, as cornbread, or as a mashed soup. Again, how it’s prepared will affect how healthy it is. The healthiest way to consume it is on the cob since it doesn’t contain additional ingredients except for maybe salt and butter. As for cornbread and soup, you’ll want to be watchful for these food items as they may contain unhealthy ingredients like sugar and cornstarch.
Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole is one of those healthy foods you can eat during Thanksgiving. However, you have to find out first how it was prepared. If it was made using canned soup and fried onions, you may want to skip it since this can make the dish high in sodium and fat. The best green bean casserole is one that’s made using fresh vegetables.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
This is another healthy Thanksgiving dish you can indulge on. They’re rich in protein which means it’ll help you feel full longer. Don’t hesitate to fill your plate with these before going for the other dishes.
Gout Tips for Thanksgiving
Eat before leaving the house
If you’re going over to someone’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving, you’ll want to have a small healthy meal before going there. You’ll have control over what you’re eating and since you’re partially full, you’ll be less likely to binge on Thanksgiving food that’s being served.
Bring a dish
If the host will allow it, bring your own Thanksgiving dish to the party. They might even appreciate the extra help, and this will allow you to have something to eat when all that’s on the dinner table are unhealthy options.
Use a smaller plate
Get the smallest plate you can find. This will reduce your chances of overeating. Don’t worry if it fills up too fast; you can always go back later for more once the food has digested. You’ll want to fill your plate with fruits and vegetables first. The more colorful, the better. Don’t hesitate to try out the other dishes as well. Just get them in small portions to give your taste buds some variety. If the well-meaning host insists that you get more of that sinfully delicious dish they just made, you don’t have to say no. Get a small serving while enthusiastically saying how excited you are to try it.
Use those spices
Take advantage of spices such as chilies, cumin, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Not only will these spices enhance the flavor of most Thanksgiving dishes, they also possess powerful nutrients that are good for you. Adding them will also make you less likely to use salt, sugar, or fat which are unhealthy.
Don’t skip dessert
Go ahead and have a bite of dessert. You don’t have to deprive yourself this one time. If you do, you’re more likely to binge later on to make up for what you couldn’t eat. You don’t have to eat the whole slice. Sometimes, a few bites are enough to satisfy that craving.
Drink lots of water
As you’re eating, purines that you’re consuming from foods will build up as uric acid in your body. To prevent elevated uric acid levels, you need to drink lots of water. This helps dilute it and will make you urinate more frequently. Sure, it’s inconvenient but at least you are eliminating that uric acid from your body.
Limit your alcohol
Alcohol is one of the biggest triggers for gout, so you’ll want to avoid this one. But if you really want to drink, go for wine instead as it’s less harmful than beer. And try to limit your consumption to only 2 to 3 glasses. For the rest of the night, fill your glass with water so you don’t feel as pressured to drink more alcohol.
After a big meal, you may be tempted to take a nap or just sit around while waiting until you’re hungry again. Try to avoid this and get moving anyway. Stand up when talking to other guests. Offer to help the host in the kitchen. Play with the kids. Or maybe just take a walk around the block. Just because it’s a holiday it doesn’t mean you should skimp one exercise. This is one great way to do it.
Find an accountability partner
Most of us are trying to be healthy on some level. Find that one person that you know will be at the event and agree to hold each other accountable for that day. For instance, they might be trying to limit their meat consumption so hold them accountable for that. In the same way, they should also keep an eye on you making sure you are making healthy choices for gout.
Have medication ready
Even if you’re very careful with your food selections, there’s a chance you might still have a gout attack. You can never be too sure, that’s why it’s important to have medication ready. So when you do have a gout flare, you can get relief immediately. Also, it might be impossible to reach your doctor during this holiday so it’s better to be prepared ahead of time. Ask for a prescription and get some meds at the pharmacy.
Are you planning to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? What are your strategies for avoiding a gout attack? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Posted by Spiro Koulouris