Avoid an Arthritis Flare-Up and Still Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving Day Doesn’t Have to Mean Arthritis Trouble

Thanksgiving offers many pleasures, like catching up with family and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. But for many of us, if we’re honest, the main attraction is diving into a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.

Thanksgiving dishes for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers

But many of us also know that indulgence can come at a cost. All that food may leave us dozing in an easy chair and not good for much for the rest of the day. More seriously, you may wince the next time you step on the bathroom scale and wince again when you think what your doctor would say about how you’ve flouted what he or she told you about your nutritional needs.

Most seriously of all, perhaps, if you’re a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer, Thanksgiving dinner has the potential to aggravate your illness. The calories and hidden fats found in many varieties of Thanksgiving food can aggravate the inflammatory condition.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however. You can dodge an arthritis attack and still have your fill of delicious Thanksgiving dishes. In fact, you can opt for Thanksgiving food that fights the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

What follows is a list of RA-friendly Thanksgiving foods including an explanation of what standard item each can substitute for and why.

Thanksgiving Substitute #1: Salmon

For many of us, turkey is an absolute requirement for Thanksgiving dinner, and by itself, it can be a lean source of protein. If you pour on gravy, though, you’re also pouring on calories and fat, and eating it with the skin on just makes the situation worse. Salmon would be a healthy alternative and is a good source of the omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation. (As is tuna.)

If your family won’t stand for doing away with turkey entirely, you could serve some turkey and some salmon as well.

Thanksgiving Substitute #2: Stuffing

It’s likely that no one would want to get rid of stuffing, either, but you can make it healthier. Don’t use white bread and lots of butter. Use whole-grain bread with low-sodium chicken broth to moisten it. Dried fruit and chopped vegetables will make it even more flavorful, and fruit and vegetables fight inflammation by providing antioxidants.

Thanksgiving Substitute #3: Roasted Sweet Potatoes

By themselves, sweet potatoes are a good source of the antioxidants that fight inflammation. If you make them into sweet potato casserole, though, you’re adding sugar and fat that can pack on the pounds, and brown sugar, marshmallows, and butter make a bad situation worse.

Serve roasted sweet potatoes instead. Seasonal spices like cinnamon and nutmeg will add flavor.

Thanksgiving Substitute #4: Almonds

For many of us, green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving dinner favorite, and the standard way to make it is with cream of mushroom soup and a topping of fatty fried onions. Both are apt to rigger an arthritis attack because they’re high in saturated fats.

To avoid this, use low-fat or fat-free soup and substitute sliced or slivered almonds for the friend onions. Along with other nuts like pistachios and walnuts, almonds are a good source of antioxidants, unsaturated fats, and fiber that’s good for your heart. They likewise contain the omega-3 fatty acids that may fight inflammation.

Thanksgiving Substitute #5: Cranberry Sauce

You may be thinking you already serve cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner. But you might not have considered it as a substitute for gravy.

We usually make gravy from fatty turkey drippings, and not surprisingly, they end up high in fat. That means it can promote obesity and joint inflammation.

You may not be able to eliminate gravy entirely, but use it sparingly. Or, better still, use cranberries or some form of fruit puree to moisten meat while providing nutrients and RA- and inflammation-fighting antioxidants.

Thanksgiving Substitute #6: Reduced Fat Macaroni and Cheese

Many of us include macaroni and cheese among our Thanksgiving dishes, and the standard variety is full of fat. But it doesn’t have to be. You can make a healthier version by using reduced-fat pasta, reduced-fat cheese, or simply not using as much cheese. You can add pureed cooked carrots or cauliflowers to add foods that fight RA to the recipe.

Thanksgiving Substitute #7: Apples

Thanksgiving desserts are an obvious source of the weight gain that’s particularly bad for arthritis sufferers because it further stresses their joints. But you may not have to skip dessert entirely. The pecan pie many of us enjoy at Thanksgiving is full of sugar and fat, but there are fruit-based desserts that have fewer calories and provide more nutritional benefit. Apple pie, for example, typically has less than half the calories found in pecan pie.