Common Holiday Triggers for Gout

The holiday season has arrived which means there will be plenty of celebratory meals and festive gatherings — most of which won’t be the best for your health. It’s not uncommon to experience more flares during the holiday season due to the high consumption of trigger foods. As a gout sufferer, you’re likely aware of what your worst triggers are, but it can be tricky to say no.

You might be pressured by your peers or you simply can’t say no to it just this one time. Whatever it may be, you need to come prepared this time. You want to be able to enjoy yourself without hurting your health. In this article, we will discuss the top holiday triggers for gout and some tips and tricks on how to navigate them and avoid a painful flare-up.

Meat

Turkey is often the main dish during Thanksgiving. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about avoiding this item since it does not have as much purines as red meat does. If there’s chicken, great! Reach for those too. Just keep in mind that you still need to limit your portion sizes. Be wary of other meats like beef, ham, and meat gravies. These contain a lot of purines and could trigger a gout attack.

Serving seafood? It’s okay to have just one serving of this food category. You’ll want to pay attention to herring, sardines, anchovies, tuna, mussels, codfish, trout, scallops, and haddock. These are the types of seafood that have the highest purine content. (Here are some more Foods to Eat & Foods to Avoid).

Alcohol

Alcohol is another big trigger for gout and one that is ever present at holiday parties. Make sure to keep an eye on consumption. We highly recommend not drinking any alcohol at all, but since it’s a special occasion, you may enjoy some in moderation.

One of our best tips is to drink in small amounts, so you’ll always have a glass in hand. Not only is alcohol a common trigger for gout, it can also impair judgement and cause you to eat more than you should, leading to a painful gout attack. A good alcohol alternative would be seltzer water. This fizzy drink makes you feel festive without having to put alcohol in your system.

Soft drinks

Speaking of fizzy drinks, while a nice seltzer water is fine, steer clear of soft drinks and sodas. These are very high in artificial sugars and can increase your risk for a gout attack.

Holiday Cookies, Candies, and Dessert

Just like soft drinks, these food items contain plenty of fake sugar that can trigger a gout attack. It’s fine to have a small portion in order to satisfy a craving, but don’t go more than half a serving. The best sugar for gout is the natural kind found in fruits. Consider bringing a piece of fruit or two during the party so you have something sweet to snack on in between.

Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

Don’t Come Hungry

A trick that can help with overeating is to eat before leaving the house! Have a full meal or snack, at the very least. Going to a party hungry will only encourage you to reach for easy snacking, which are often those trigger foods. When you feel satisfied, you’re more likely to make healthier choices and limit portions of the bad ones.

Drink Lots of Water

When attending a party, always be sure to stay well hydrated. This will help ensure that uric acid crystals don’t form in your joints. Water helps keep them diluted and encourages secretion via the urine. If you decide to drink alcohol, having a glass of water in between drinks is encouraged. Not only does this minimize your risk, it will also help you avoid a bad hangover the next day.

Bring Your Own

If you’ve been invited over the holidays, don’t be shy about asking the host what food is going to be served. Someone with your condition needs to monitor what they eat, so it’s not an unusual ask and they likely won’t mind!

Plus, if you find out that most of the foods will be bad for you, let your host know you’ll be bringing your own dish. More often than not, they will understand and appreciate the gesture of you telling them ahead.

Reach for the Healthy Options First

Dig into the healthy food items first. This means beans, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, and veggies. These are very nutritious choices that help you feel satiated. Not only that, they are also good for your gout condition. (Here are some more Anti-Inflammatory Foods For Gout).

Mind Your Portions

It can be tempting to fill your plate with all these delicious food items, but remember, even though it’s a holiday, this day is not unlike any other day when it comes to gout. Your condition doesn’t recognize holidays, so neither should your diet!

Keep an eye on your portions and remember that a serving is the size of the palm of your hands. The festivities will soon be over, and you’ll be left with a painful foot if you’re not watchful of your portions.

Bring Your Medication

In case the worst happens which would be that a gout attack does happen, it’s best to be prepared with all the effective treatment options such as medication. This means having allopurinol, colchicine, and some NSAIDs with you.

It’s might be a good idea to check in with your doctor ahead of the holidays to make sure that you have enough to get through the season. Ask for a prescription weeks before the holiday begins and bring medicine with you before leaving for the party.

Go to Bed on Time

We all tend to stay out later and up longer during the holiday season because we’re so busy visiting with friends and family. However, people with gout really should do their best to try to get to bed at a decent time. Gout attacks are more likely to happen late at night, and you don’t want to be caught in between drinks and conversations due to a gout flare.

Do your health a favor and get to bed on time. You’ll feel well rested the next day and be less likely to binge on unhealthy trigger foods the following day.

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What holiday food do you find the most difficult to resist? How do you work around it? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below. 

Spiro Koulouris

Spiro Koulouris

Spiro Koulouris is a leading gout diet expert, author, and blogger at GoutandYou. He’s dedicated his life to inspiring people to obtain a healthy lifestyle and living a gout-free life. Spiro has battled with the disease for years and has dedicated himself to become educated and informed on the subject.

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