Happy senior couple celebrating new year with the sparklers, enjoying winter evening.

7 Tips To Minimize Joint Pain This Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us!

No matter how you celebrate, there’s a good chance that the next few months will be filled with fun, family, and lots of food. But for people with osteoarthritis or other conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation, the holiday season can feel overwhelming and stressful.

Stress, which has been directly linked to chronic pain, can increase significantly during the holidays and end of the year chaos leaving you with that bah humbug feeling. The food we eat also impacts how we physically feel. Yet, around the holidays, we are all faced with plate after plate of delicious but often inflammatory food that can worsen joint pain. And with holiday parties to attend and host, our calendars fill up quickly – limiting what time we have for the gym and other active hobbies that help keep joint pain in check.

When it comes to indulging during the holidays, the good news is that with a little bit of planning, it’s possible to minimize joint pain and inflammation. Here are a few simple tips to make sure you feel your best:

  • Opt for anti-inflammatory foods. As we’ve explored in a previous blog, not all foods are created equal when it comes to fighting joint pain. When designing your holiday table, keep anti-inflammatory foods in mind. Some that might make sense on your holiday menu include turkey (over ham), fatty fish like salmon, dark greens such as broccoli, kale, and spinach, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and nuts. Avoid overly processed foods like canned cranberry sauce when possible.
  • Practice portion control. There’s a reason we all feel so sluggish after Thanksgiving dinner. To avoid that feeling of exhaustion, and the potential joint pain that comes with it, it’s best to eat smaller portions and pace yourself during meals. Instead of filling your plate mainly with stuffing, try to sample a bit of everything while opting for extra of the healthier items (ex. turkey and green beans).
  • Trade treats for healthy bites. The holiday season is often synonymous with sugar – from candy to pumpkin pie to gingerbread cookies. While it’s fine to indulge in treats in moderation, it can also be helpful to replace some of the sweets on your table with healthier alternatives. Consider switching out a bowl of candy for dark berries filled with antioxidants. Instead of baking cookies for your guests, how about impressing them with a charming charcuterie board? Cheese is loaded with calcium and can help keep osteoporosis at bay. You can also fill your charcuterie board with fruits like grapes, veggies like cucumber slices and celery, and nuts.
  • Prep ahead of time. Try to be as ahead of the game as possible when it comes to prepping for the holidays. This means finishing your shopping early and making food ahead of time so that you can store, freeze, and reheat it later. This will help reduce your stress, which can be a major contributor to inflammation in the body.
  • Ask your family and friends for help. Don’t feel like you have to go at it alone. Are you planning a big family holiday party? See if your family members are open to a potluck or willing to help you prep early. This will help minimize your stress and reduce the time spent on your feet.
  • Remember to stay active. This is very important as we head into a busy holiday season. While your schedule might not permit you to maintain your normal exercise routine, it’s a good idea to keep up with the same activities as much as possible. Even if that means going to the gym twice a week versus four times a week, that’s better than reducing your exercise time to zero.

Are you still experiencing joint pain despite choosing all the right habits? Check out our Find a Doctor tool to locate an expert in your area familiar with our solutions that might be able to help.

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