Holiday Eating: 3 Foods To Avoid To Help Your Waistline Joints

It’s that time of the year again. With the holidays coming up, many look forward to gathering with family and friends and enjoying delicious food. However, for those concerned about joint issues or weight, a table heaped with festive treats can seem like a minefield.

The good news is that learning which foods to avoid can help you enjoy the holidays without suffering health consequences later. Inflammation is a leading cause of joint pain and also contributes to excess weight gain. Steering clear of foods that encourage the inflammatory process is an important step to feeling good during the holidays and beyond.

1. Processed Meats

In contrast to other types of meat, processed meat has a high level of advanced glycation end products. These products are formed when proteins or lipids become glycated due to being processed at high temperatures with certain types of sugars. Scientists have found that consuming AGEs provides a direct stimulus to the immune cells, leading to an inflammatory response. AGEs also affect circulation and metabolism.

Instead of processed meats, opt for holiday dishes featuring minimal processing. They do not have to be labor-intensive or even home-cooked. Using prepared foods can include healthier options such as rotisserie chicken or a basic roast.

2. Refined Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates occur in a wide variety of foods and contain important nutrients. Refined carbohydrates, however, are those with most of the fiber removed. Carbohydrates that have been processed this way are a major cause of inflammation. According to the Arthritis Foundation, refined carbs top the list of causes of obesity and inflammation-related conditions. This is because removing the fiber raises their glycemic index and encourages the production of AGEs and other inflammatory substances in the organism.

Many common food ingredients contain refined carbs. In particular, anything containing white flour or sugar has refined carbohydrates, such as

  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Candy
  • Pastries
  • Soda

For a healthier holiday spread, opt for whole-grain, sugar-free baked goods. Avoid adding sugar and flour to sauces, side dishes and mains. For many, it can be more realistic to reduce these foods than to aim for consuming none at all.

3. Saturated and Trans Fats

An article published by the Harvard Medical School outlines the negative health effects of saturated fats and trans fats. Experts link both types of fats to increased inflammation, as well as other issues. Trans fats are particularly harmful, with no known benefits. For this reason, margarine and vegetable shortening containing trans fats is no longer sold. Saturated fats, on the other hand, are often contained in foods that do offer nutritional benefits:

  • Red meat
  • Cheese
  • Whole milk
  • Coconut oil

Saturated fats are also used in many commercial baked goods. The general recommendation is to limit the consumption of these fats to under 10% of one’s daily caloric intake.

In addition to avoiding inflammation triggers, looking out for your health during the holidays can include actively seeking out anti-inflammatory foods. These include green vegetables, berries, nuts and olive oil. Turmeric is another plant packed with curcumin, which is known to have a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Daily turmeric supplements can help you boost your health and fight inflammation.

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