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Need To Know Arthritis Weight Loss Diet Info!

10 + 6 Diet Tips To Help You Drop

The Extra Pounds

Peter Ballantine

August 2007

As an athritis sufferer, managing your weight through diet to minimize strain on your load bearing joints is a key strategy for minimizing cartilage degeneration and reducing resultant pain and stiffness.  Weight loss also goes hand in hand with movement (exercise) which is another very important key to battling your arthritis.

Most everyone has struggled with carrying some extra weight at one time or another and losing the extra pounds can seem like a daunting task - especially for people with arthritis. The rewards however for losing the extra pounds are numerous. The first time you can climb that set of stairs without the cane, or the first time you can really hug your grandchild are moments of pure personal triumph that make the hard work all worth while. 

There is a lot of diet related information out there, so key for us was sorting through it to cull some pointers that actually work and that are relevant to arthritis sufferers.  In this article we bring together arthritis diet advice from dietitians, weight loss coaches, personal trainers and real people that have dealt with the weight loss challenge successfully.

Here are the 16 most important tips about healthy dieting for people with arthritis.


1. View it as a lifestyle change rather than a diet
By it's nature the term "Diet" implies a temporary change of eating habits but the key to success is accpeting that you'll have to change your eating habits permanently if you want to lose weight and keep it off.

Cooking and Eating

2. Limit your intake of refined sugars
Consuming foods that are high in refined sugar is one of the quickest ways to add weight. Refined sugars come in many forms such as: dextrose, fructose, corn syrup and maltodextrin. If you crave sugary sweets then rather than trying to go cold turkey - simply limit your intake over time. For example you should try to go from a whole chocolate bar every day to a half a chocolate bar within a month and then a half of that by the next month, and so on and so on.  I know this approach works as I've used it myself to wean myself of off sugar in my coffee.  Baby steps are easier to live with than are big radical changes.

3. Learn to distinguish good fats from bad fats
It's common knowledge now that trans fats should be avoided as they  increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL). Trans fats also wreak havoc on your arteries by clogging and hardening them. Saturated fats are ok when used in moderation and should not make up more than five to ten per cent of your diet.
Unsaturated fats are your good fats and you can find them in such foods as nuts, fish oil and olive oil.  These fats are beneficial because they help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.  A healthy diet consists of no more than one to two teaspoons of unsaturated fat in a meal.

4. Breakfast... it really is the most important meal of the day.
Breakfast gets little respect as it's the most commonly skipped meal.  The problem is that when you skip breakfast your metabolism slows down to compensate and you don't burn fat effectively as a result. Eating breakfast ensures that you keep your metabolic rate up, which triggers the body to keep burning calories (fat) which plays an important role in establishing and maintaining a good weight loss plan.

5. Eat regularly throughout the day
In order to keep your blood sugar level consistent, you should eat three well-balanced meals a day.  If your three meals are more than four hours apart you should also eat healthy snacks in between your meals to help keep your metabolism up.  

6. It's often what's on your food that you need to watch - rather than
    what's in it
Eating a plate full of healthy meat or fish and veggies is great, but, be careful not to nullify your good work by slathering on lots of mayonnaise, butter, salad dressing or oil. Ultimately your goal is to limit, reduce and replace these unhealthy toppings over time and use low-fat product, low sugar alternatives.

7. Snacking is beneficial if you choose healthy food options
Eat fruits and vegetables instead of chips and cookies. Try out a variety of fruits and vegetables and determine which ones you really like and then keep them on hand - prepared in advance for snacking.  Raw  nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese and clear soups are also great snacking options.

8. Most restaurants have healthy menu choices now - seek them out
If you must eat out, then have a water instead of the soda or iced tea. Have the chicken wrap with little or no special sauce and a salad instead of fries.  It's ok to get salad dressing but choose the low calerie version and ask for it on the side so you can apply only as required.

9. Reduce your portion sizes today and you'll want to eat less tomorrow
The body quickly becomes accustomed to routine.  If you eat more, it demands more.  If you eat less, it gets by on less.  The goal is to reduce portion sizes to include a healthy amount of food and never so much that you feel full when your done eating.  As an example, one serving of meat should be about half the size of your clinched fist.

10. Avoid eating after 7 p.m. 
The later you eat - the less time your body has to burn off those calories and the more likely they'll end up as fatty deposits.  If you must eat late, then be doubly aware of portion size and fat content so as to minimize the damage to your diet.

11. Do you drink enough water?
It can be tough to drink the recommended six to ten glasses of water a day but it's definitely worth the effort.  Among its myriad of benefits, water is the best thing for your complexion, it's a detoxifier extraordinaire and it helps to reduce feelings of hunger.  Try drinking a glass of water before reaching for a snack or after your dinner before you dig into that dessert.  If you're not a fan of plain water then add some lime or lemon to it, or drink it in the form of decaffeinated herbal teas for example.  The key is to get as much water in you as possible and your body will thank.

The Mental Aspect 

12. Strive to get eight hours of good sleep a night
Not getting adequate sleep affects at least three weight-related hormones. Leptin - an appetite-suppressing hormone - may decrease. Ghrelin - a hormone that keeps hunger pangs in check - may increase. Cortisol -a hormone responsible for helping to manage stress - may increase which increases the potential for fat storage. A lack of sleep can also increase moodiness and magnify that "Stressed Out" feeling which can often trigger binge eating.

13. Identify and confront your emotional eating habits
Try to recognize if you are eating as a comfort mechanism to mask or address emotional issues.  This type of activity often goes on in private and is easy to identify if you're willing to confront it.  Food can certainly be a temporary crutch but recognizing that you need to get to the root of the real problem so that you can properly address it is key to eliminating this  very poor eating habit.

14. Keep a food journal
Regardless of how well you think you have an undertsanding of what you're eating - you should keep a food journal for at least the first three months of your new diet.  People never fail to be amazed by what they're really doing versus what they think they're doing and your journal will help to add clarity to what you need to do to be successful in the short term and in the long term - should you fall back into some bad eating habits.

15. Rally support from friends and family
Let them know what you're doing and what your goals are and ask them to help you.  If possible, partner up with someone else who would see benefits in changing their eating habits.  Lean on friends and family for support when things are bad and celebrate your successes with them when things are going well.
The people who care about you should take a vested interest in seeing you succeed and they may be the ones that help keep you on the straight and narrow during the tough times.
16. Recognize right now - before you even start -that you will fall off the

Falling off the wagon is not the hard part - everyone falls off at some point. Getting back on is the real challenge, so prepare yourself now for the falls and they won't be a surprise nor will they be as painful.  They are just bumps in the road on the way to your ultimate objective.

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