The traditional fall foods of the Thanksgiving meal can be a minefield when you're trying to manage rheumatoid arthritis. Some favorite Thanksgiving Day foods are full of hidden fat and calories and aggravate the inflammatory condition. On the other hand, healthy eats for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may actually help fight inflammation and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. With these seven swaps for healthy Thanksgiving Day foods for RA, you can savor the flavors without sacrificing your joint health.
Swap Out Pecans for Apples in Pie
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for people with rheumatoid arthritis because extra weight puts more pressure on already stressed joints, says Eric L. Matteson, MD, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. That doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert entirely, however. Instead, skip the high-fat, high-sugar Thanksgiving Day foods like pecan pie filling and opt for a fruit-based dessert for nutritional benefits as well as fewer calories. Fall foods like apple pie can have fewer than half the calories of pecan pie.
Swap Out Gravy for Cranberry Sauce
Thanksgiving Day gravy is traditionally made from fatty turkey drippings, which means it’s high in saturated fat. Saturated fats are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are tied to increased joint inflammation and obesity. “You don’t need much, so use gravy sparingly,” says Bethany Thayer, MS, RDN, the director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. “Or use cranberries or some fruit puree on meat to give it some moisture and some nutrients as well as antioxidants.” Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables are healthy RA foods because they help fight inflammation, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Swap Out Sweet Potato Casserole for Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato casserole is a fall food that’s loaded with extra sugar and fat — an easy contributor to holiday weight gain. “If you’re making sweet potato casserole and adding brown sugar, marshmallows, and butter, what you’ve done is taken a healthy sweet potato and added bad things to it,” says Thayer. Sweet potatoes on their own are a good source of fiber and inflammation-fighting antioxidants, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Try cutting them into cubes, dusting them with seasonal spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and roasting them in the oven for a healthier Thanksgiving Day side dish.
Swap Out Fried Onions for Almonds in Green Bean Casserole
The classic recipe for Thanksgiving Day green bean casserole calls for cream of mushroom soup and a fatty fried onion topping. Both are unhealthy foods for RA because they're high in saturated fats that can trigger inflammation. To lighten up this Thanksgiving favorite, Thayer suggests using reduced-fat or fat-free soup and topping the dish with slivered or sliced almonds for a healthy crunch. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are a good source of heart-healthy fiber, unsaturated fats, and antioxidants. The omega-3 fatty acids found in some nuts are also thought to reduce the risk for RA and fight inflammation.
Swap Out White Bread for Whole Grains in Stuffing
Stuffing is another Thanksgiving favorite that can be made healthier with some simple swaps, Thayer says. Rather than using white bread and lots of butter in the stuffing, choose whole-grain bread and low-sodium chicken broth to moisten it. Add some dried fruit and chopped vegetables to the mix to add even more nutrition and flavor. Including more fruits and vegetables in traditional Thanksgiving Day foods is a healthy way to add more inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
Reduce the Fat in Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a high-fat side dish that appears on many Thanksgiving tables. “If Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without it, then just watch your portion size,” says Thayer. But you can make macaroni and cheese healthier by using whole-grain pasta and cutting back on the cheese or using reduced-fat cheese. Adding pureed cooked carrots or cauliflower to macaroni and cheese is another way to incorporate more healthy foods for RA symptoms into a traditional Thanksgiving Day food.
Swap Out Turkey for Salmon
Although Thanksgiving Day turkey can be a lean source of protein, eating it with the skin on and under an avalanche of gravy can quickly pile on extra fat and calories. It may be a hard sell to get rid of the turkey entirely at Thanksgiving, but Thayer suggests offering salmon as a new holiday tradition or along with the turkey. Fatty fishes like salmon and tuna are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Excerpted From: https://www.everydayhealth.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/diet/healthy-thanksgiving-day-foods-ra/#08