If there were a magic diet that was guaranteed to ease your arthritis pain, would you follow it?
You bet you would.
For many arthritis sufferers, losing weight-even if you’re only mildly overweight can help ease the pain and protect your joints. Think about it: The more pressure and weight on your joints, the more they hurt. Even 10 extra pounds stresses a joint that much more. This is more significant for people with osteoarthritis; many people with rheumatoid arthritis, in fact, lose their appetites, sometimes because of their medication. Nevertheless, eating a well-balanced diet is crucial for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Before you try to limit your foods or go on a diet, talk to your doctor. He may refer you to a nutritionist, who can help guide you to an easy way to weight loss. Nutritionists will tell you that “diets” don’t work, and if you’ve tried them you’ll likely agree. The diets touted in many magazines or on television may result in quick weight loss sometimes too quick to be healthy but they are generally so extreme that you can’t stay on them for long. And when you return to your “regular eating,” the pounds leap back on.
You don’t need to go on a deprivation diet; you need to permanently change to a healthy, delicious, balanced way of eating. Quite likely, you’ll also be making changes in how you shop and cook (and you’ll build exercise into your daily life, if you haven’t already). It sounds like a big undertaking and it does require commitment but a nutritionist can ease the way. You’ve got great motivation, don’t forget whittling down the discomforts of arthritis along with your waistline. And don’t worry, a good nutritionist will find room in your diet for your favorite foods. If you’ve got to have chocolate, you’ll be able to work it in Gust probably not every day and not in large amounts!).
Once you start your new routine, don’t be surprised if it takes three weeks or so before you begin to see results. Our bodies tend to be stubborn, and they instinctively like to hold on to the status quo-the weight they’ve got. Just hang in there! You’ll eventually begin to lose. And slow weight loss (one to two pounds per week) is safest: If you lose more than two pounds a week, begin to eat a little more.
Here’s a simple, basic meal plan you can adjust for your needs.
Breakfast. Of course plenty of fresh fruit, orange, strawberries or cherries; either a piece of bread or some low sugar cereals; and do not forget some proteins, best served from an egg or some Greek yogurt.
Lunch. A fresh salad will make your day with the usual ingredients like carrots, spinach, celery, some shrooms; the protein element stems from chicken, fish or turkey; eat plenty of fresh fruit for the energy boost.
Dinner. A four-ounce serving of protein such as fish, tofu, chicken, beans, turkey, beef; one carbohydrate such as a baked potato, rice, bread, or pasta; one cup of steamed vegetables (not starchy ones such as peas or corn); a fresh salad with low-fat dressing.
Evening snack. One fruit with one square of graham cracker, one low-fat cookie, or a half cup of sorbet or low-fat frozen yogurt.
And don’t forget that the real dessert for your body is exercise. While you’re eating healthy meals, to start burning fat, exercise for at least 20 minutes three to four times a week, walking, swimming, or whatever, as your arthritis allows. If you can exercise longer, however, you’ll do much better: Your body burns mostly carbohydrates during that first 20 minutes and doesn’t begin to use up stored fat until after 20 minutes.