How to manage arthritis flare-ups during the holidays

Dec 23, 2019
One in six people suffer from arthritis to some degree. Source: Getty

Arthritis is one of the most common conditions that develops through ageing and is known to not only impact mobility but also the overall quality of life.

Christmas can be particularly challenging if you or a loved one has arthritis. The change in diet, often humid weather and increase in parties, gatherings and functions can make the condition a lot worse.

“Christmas traditions in Australia generally aren’t well suited to the requirements of the average sufferer of arthritis,” Brendan Howell, director of Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing, tells Starts at 60.

“Whether it’s Christmas lunch, going to the beach, eating pavlova, having a beer or backyard cricket, Aussie Christmas traditions often force arthritis sufferers to sit on the sidelines.”

With the help of Howell, we’ve put together some tips to help you deal with the holiday season.

Eat right

There’s something about the holidays that makes us want to indulge a little, and rightly so. It’s a time for fun, frivolity and enjoying quality time with good friends and good food. But, as tempting as it is, snacking on fruit mince pies or digging into a festive pudding is a big no-no.

Howell says arthritis sufferers should be really careful about what they eat during the festive period, adding that the types of food traditionally eaten at or associated with Christmas aggravate arthritis symptoms.

“Every Christmas meal I’ve ever had has been packed with ham, sausages, alcohol, chocolate, soft drink and bread,” he says. “Christmas lunches around Australia are full of sugar, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, gluten and alcohol – all of which are an arthritis sufferer’s worst nightmare.”

Howell adds poor food choices can cause painful arthritis flare-ups, and even more serious health issues in the long-term.

Plan ahead if you’re travelling abroad

If you’re visiting family or friends overseas during the Christmas break and take arthritis medication, make sure you have a doctor’s certificate with you, Howell advises. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you can’t take your meds with you.

A change in weather or humidity can also affect arthritis. Plan ahead and ensure you dress appropriately for the trip.

Stay positive

Howell’s biggest piece of advice for arthritis sufferers is to stay positive during the Christmas period.

“Arthritis may stop you from doing a lot of things at Christmas,” he says. “You may not be able to eat exactly what you want or be able to participate in the family backyard cricket tournament. But it’s important to stay positive, especially during Christmas!”

Howell recommends talking with your loved ones and suggesting activities that everyone can join in on, such as board games or cards.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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