Gout: Navigating Alcohol During The Holidays

It can be hard to navigate the holidays with gout, particularly because you’re likely to encounter one of the worst triggers for this condition, alcohol, on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, there will likely be alcohol at a majority of the gatherings, so it’s best to be prepared on how to avoid it! When it comes to gout and alcohol, there’s no such thing as “just a little.” Even the smallest drink can trigger a reaction.

Too much alcohol consumption causes purine to get broken down into uric acid in the body. When there’s too much uric acid, it can get concentrated into one joint, most of the big toe, and cause a painful gout attack. It can also form into stones in the kidney. In bad cases, these crystals build up in other parts of the body and form into bumps called tophi.

And remember, gout isn’t just an instance of pain or bumps in your body. It’s associated with more serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes. A person with gout should always be mindful of their alcohol intake, but this becomes even more important during the holidays! To help, here are some tips on how to navigate gout and alcohol this holiday season.

Eat Before Drinking

If you’ve made the decision that you are going to drink this holiday season, just be sure to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. This is a rule we should all follow, but it’s especially important for people with gout. As most of us already know, drinking on an empty stomach will cause a person to get drunk faster. When we’re intoxicated, we make poor decisions such as drinking more and increasing the risk of having a painful gout attack.

If there’s food in your stomach while drinking, it will allow the alcohol to be absorbed more slowly into the body.

Monitor Portions

Always keep count of the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed already. This way, you’ll know when to stop. Most people will drink until the night is over but for you, it’s totally different since uric acid will build up the more purines you consume from alcohol.

Drink Water in Between Glasses

Another way to manage uric acid in the body during the holidays is by drinking water in between drinks. Water will help prevent dehydration which is a trigger for gout. This will also dilute the uric acid concentration in the body and lets a person excrete it by urinating. Unfortunately, you’ll be taking more trips to the bathroom, but at the end of the night, you’ll be thankful that you did. Plus, you’ll have less of a hangover the next day!

Choose Alcohol Wisely

Beer seems to be the biggest offender among all alcohol types, so if you can, avoid this drink. While spirits are also not ideal, they aren’t as bad as beer.

The wisest choice is wine. In a study published in The Lancet Medical Journal, they found that men who consumed wine did not increase their gout risk compared to beer drinkers. Those who drank beer increased their risk by 50-percent while those who drank hard liquor increased theirs by 15-percent.

Bring Your Own Alcohol

The downfall of attending a party that someone else is hosting is that you don’t have control over what’s being provided. To avoid limited options that might not cater to your specific diet, you can always just bring your own alcohol. If the host tries to offer theirs, just explain the situation. I’m sure they’d be more than understanding!

Bringing your own alcohol ensures that you have something to drink throughout the night. If you must drink beer, at least you’ll have the brand that is the healthiest for you. Remember, that most mainstream beers aren’t the best quality. They contain high fructose corn syrup which is incredibly triggering for gout. The best beer is one that’s organic and brewed locally using organic ingredients.

Fight Peer Pressure

You don’t have to drink just because it’s the holidays. Learn to say no to friends and family who pressure you to drink. Unlike most people, those with gout have to think about more than just having a good time. Your health will suffer greatly at the hands of alcohol.

Being able to politely decline is a skill not just helpful during the holidays! It’s one that you should learn to perfect for all occasions where alcohol is present. It’s crazy how ubiquitous alcohol is. We have it for birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, funerals. There’s always an excuse to drink! You’ll gain a highly valuable skill when you’re able to say no to alcohol.

Keep Your Glass Filled

One reason why people keep offering you a drink is because they see you empty handed. A surefire way to keep them from pestering you is by having one in hand already. It doesn’t have to be alcohol. It could be grape juice for all they know! If it is alcohol, at least you will have the option of nursing it for as long as you want.

Have an Accountability Partner

If it’s too soon and you know you have no control of it just yet, you can employ the help of a friend. They can be there for you to help fight off offers for drinking or keep watch of your alcohol intake making sure you don’t overdo it.

If they too have a diet goal in mind for the holidays, you can make a game out of it and be accountability partners. You can keep an eye on each other throughout the night. It feels good being able to help someone and you get the added benefit of not succumbing to drinking too much or at all!

Don’t Stay Up Too Late

It can be tempting to stay in the company of friends and family throughout the night, but when it comes to taking care of your health, it’s best to hit the sheets earlier than later. Gout attacks are more likely to happen in the middle of the night when the temperature is at its coldest. By going home early, you avoid eating and drinking too much, and you get that rest needed by your body after consuming alcohol.

Bring Medication

Even if you’re not planning on engaging in risky behavior during the holiday season (i.e., drinking alcohol), it’s likely a good idea to be prepared with treatment options like medication at all times. You never know. It could be one drink, or a couple. If you come prepared, you don’t have to worry about it later.

And remember, alcohol isn’t the only trigger for gout. There are certain foods as well. By having medication, you’ll save yourself from a lot of pain.

What has your experience been like consuming alcohol during the holidays? Any tricks for curbing your consumption? Share them 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.