Thanksgiving is coming fast, folks. So 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?
Those conversations are to be expected as we gear up for this holiday, 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 your 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.
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.)
Now, these guidelines can impact anyone, but diabetics must worry about more than just gout when the holidays come around. Keep reading for tips on how to score a healthier Thanksgiving menu.
Better Choices for Diabetics (and everyone) this 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!
10 Helpful Hints for Coping with Diabetes on Thanksgiving
Now that we’ve got the actual Thanksgiving meal covered, check out these important tips for the rest of Thanksgiving day, courtesy of the Joslin Diabetes Center:
- Start the day off with a good breakfast so you won’t be tempted to overeat.
- Nibble on raw vegetables with low-fat dips before dinner rather than salted nuts or cheese and crackers.
- Choose white rather than dark turkey meat, without the skin.
- Make mashed potatoes with low-fat milk and margarine instead of butter, and take it easy with the gravy. Skim the fat off the top of the gravy before serving.
- Steam vegetables like peas and green beans rather serving them in a casserole with creamed sauces.
- Bake stuffing in a casserole dish rather than inside a turkey so you can make it with less fat. Bake with low-fat broth and margarine.
- Make cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries. Canned cranberry sauce is high in sugar.
- If you’re going to drink a glass or two of wine, do it with dinner, rather than starting earlier. Consider diluting white wine with seltzer water to make a wine spritzer.
- Have dessert with everyone else, but choose pumpkin pie over pecan pie, or bring a dessert you’ve made with an artificial sweetener. Top it with low-fat whipped cream.
- Don’t take home leftovers.