Thanksgiving and Gout: What You Need to Know

Gobble, gobble, it's Thanksgiving week! I'm sure that, right now, many of you are deep in conversation about your upcoming holiday menu: who will make the Turkey? Who's bringing dinner rolls? And who is in charge of that perfect pecan pie? Don't grab beer while you're watching Thanksgiving football: you could trigger a gout attack!

Those conversations are to be expected the week of Thanksgiving, but there’s another conversation I need to have with you as your Houston podiatrist. We all know that Thanksgiving is not the right time to start a diet, but did you know that many of your favorite holiday foods put you at risk of developing gout?

Gout Triggering Thanksgiving Favorites

If you don’t already know, gout is a condition characterized by intense foot pain; it is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the smaller bones of the feet. Foods that are high in purines can affect your body's ability to filter out uric acid, leading to painful flare-ups. Here are some of the main culprits that might be making their way to your Thanksgiving table: 

Animal protein, Especially Organ Meat
All meat, poultry and fish have purines, but some are worse offenders than others. So, while just eating turkey on Thanksgiving should be ok (as long as you imit portion size to about 6 ounces) you should definitely stay away from the gizzards and giblets.

Creamy or Fatty Sauces
If your gravy is full of drippings from your Turkey or other meats, watch out. Excess fat intake can also negatively impact your body's ability to filter out uric acid. For a healthier approach, try vegetable or broth-based gravies instead.

Juice and Soda
Did you know that high-fructose items actually increases the amount of uric acid your body produces? Since your meal is already likely to be high on purines, you'll want to stay away from sodas and juices that contain high fructose corn syrup. 

Beer
I know how badly you want to grab a beer and watch all those Thanksgiving football games, but here's why you shouldn't: beer is a major trigger food for gout sufferers (which is why so many people have flare ups right after the Super Bowl.) Champagne can be problematic too, so if you want to share a toast with friends this holiday, stick to red wine instead (in appropriate quantities.)  

Better Choices for Thanksgiving
Now that you know the foods to avoid, here are a few suggestions for a safer menu. 

Load Up on Vitamin C
Veggies like zucchini, squash, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and carrots are all high in Vitamic C, which has been shown to help reduce your risk of a gout attack. Skip the broccoli and mushrooms, however, as they have high purine levels. 

Choose Cherries and Cheese
Cheese is low in purines, and, if it's low fat, it makes for a delicious and gout-friendly appetizer. Cherries are a healthy dessert option that actually contains gout-fighting properties. I think that makes them two-time winners!


Gout Symptoms to Watch For

Even if you've been incredibly careful, gout may still affect your post-Thanksgiving celebrations. So, how do you know if you’re having a flare up? If you’re experiencing gout, your feet will be in extreme pain, sensitive even to the touch of your bed sheets, and your big toe joint will become red and swollen.

Are you already experiencing these symptoms or nervous that you've been overindulging during holiday preparations and this pain might be in your future? Don’t worry, I can help. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider so I can assess the situation and give you relief as soon as possible. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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