Advice from Dr. Arthritis: 5 Thanksgiving Substitutes to Keep Joints Healthy

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Thanksgiving is all about indulging in a bountiful, gastronomic feast with friends and family—except if you suffer from arthritis. Unfortunately, traditional fall fares could actually make conditions for chronic pain sufferers a lot worse, which makes enjoying the holiday difficult.

For those in charge of this season’s menus, take note. You can actually swap out some of these healthy Thanksgiving favorites for something healthier.

1. Trade in pecans for apple in your pie

Remember that maintaining a healthy weight is important for anyone who wants to ensure joint health. When you’re overweight, you put a lot of stress on your joints, which is something you want to avoid, especially if you already suffer from arthritis. Skipping high-hat, high-calorie, and sugar-laden treats therefore, are the way to go. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on Thanksgiving treats. Trade in candied-nuts and caramel for fruit-based desserts and remember to eat in moderation.

2.  Go for the cranberry sauce

A staple on every Thanksgiving table is turkey. And while this is relatively healthy, the rich, fatty and flavorful gravy that goes perfectly with it happens to be very high in saturated fat—and this causes joint inflammation.

Use gravy sparingly. Or better yet, swap it for cranberry sauce instead. The cranberry not only adds flavor to the dish, but is also rich in antioxidants, helping you fight inflammation.

3. Try a new sweet potato recipe

Sweet potato casserole is another must-have on any Thanksgiving spread. But keep in mind that this dish has brown sugar and marshmallows—making it packed with artificial sugars. Sweet potato however, is a great source of fiber and antioxidants. So instead, cut the into cubes, sprinkle it with spices and roast them for a healthier alternative.

4. Not all green recipes are great for your joints

The classic green bean casserole might seem like a great, healthy idea, but the fried onions and cream of mushroom typically added in this dish are so high in saturated fat it might cause inflammation of your joints. Swap out key ingredients on this dish to make it healthier. Use a fat-free version of the cream of mushroom and trade fried onions for sliced almonds.

5. Substitute white bread for whole grains

Needless to say that white bread loaded with butter isn’t exactly the healthiest decision you can make when it comes to stuffing for your turkey. But that doesn’t mean you have to forget about stuffing altogether either. Use whole-grain bread and a little bit of vegetable or chicken broth to moisten it. Mix with dried fruit and vegetables to add more flavor and you’re good to go.

Thanksgiving is a time for celebration. But just because you’re trying to be more conscious of your health doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the festivities. Give these alternatives a try and your joints will thank you for it.

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