Reasons to go easy on the season’s eatings!

Need another reason to avoid putting on those extra holiday pounds? We’ve put together a few that illustrate the orthopedic effects extra weight can exert on your body in terms of joint problems, pain, and inflammation. We’ve also included a list of ways to avoid overeating during the holidays. We hope you’ll find it helpful!

Joint problems. Excess weight—even just 10-15 pounds—can cause or exacerbate joint problems. And the knee joints are especially vulnerable. Did you know that every pound of weight gained puts an extra four pounds of pressure on each of your knee joints?  So gaining 5 pounds is like adding 20 extra pounds to each of your knees. Over time, that excess weight can cause joint conditions like osteoarthritis, as the cartilage on the ends of your bones becomes worn and damaged.

Another condition that can result from carrying around excess pounds is bursitis. While this condition can be the result of an injury, extra weight can also cause it. The added pressure on the bursa sac—a fluid sack near the joint that helps to keep tissues from rubbing against bones—can cause pain and swelling as the bursa becomes inflamed.

Chronic Pain Syndrome. Increased weight increases your chances of developing chronic pain syndrome,or long-term pain. Again, part of the reason is probably the increased strain those extra pounds place on your joints. According to obesityaction.org, chronic pain, especially in the knees and feet, is more common in children who are affected by childhood obesity than in children of normal weight. In fact, people who carry excess weight or are obese are at least twice as likely to have long-term pain than people of more normal weight.

Other conditions.  The release of inflammatory chemicals caused by being overweight can cause conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. And gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis occurs when an excess of uric acid in the body leads to the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints (most often the big toe). Studies show that around 70% of people with gout are overweight.

The risk of developing psoriatic arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis that also includes scaly, inflamed skin, can also increase with weight gain. If you already have psoriasis and develop obesity, you could triple your risk of developing psoriatic arthritis.

So what can you do? A study published in “Arthritis & Rheumatism” found that just one pound of weight loss resulted in four pounds of pressure being removed from the knee. Similarly, other studies have concluded that a pound of weight loss can remove six pounds of pressure off the hips, and that weight loss can lessen inflammation of the joints. So here are some tips on how to avoid putting on those extra holiday pounds.

1. Skip the elastic waist pants. Don’t put on those stretchy clothes in anticipation of overeating. Wear tighter clothing that will feel restrictive if you eat too much.

2. Don’t go to a party on an empty stomach. Eat a light, healthy snack before attending a holiday event where there will be food. Don’t skip meals. Attending a party on an empty stomach just makes it more likely that you’ll overeat.

3. Drink lots of water. Sometimes when we feel hungry, we’re actually thirsty. Drinking water before and during meals can make you more full—it takes up space in your stomach, leaving less room for food.

4. Skip the pre-meal snacks. Some of those hors d’oeuvres and snacks served at parties really pack the calories in. Choose veggies (without dip), fruit or other healthy snacks if they’re offered. If not, politely decline. Fruits and veggies contain lots of water, too, so they fill you up more before you get to the buffet table.

5. Eat slowly.It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to recognize the feeling of fullness. Eating quickly bypasses these signals and causes you to eat more than you should.

6. So… wait 20 minutes before getting seconds. If you still want more after taking a break, go ahead and help yourself. But by that time, you just might find that you don’t want more after all.

7. Reward yourself… a little. Eat dessert smartly. Do a little research to learn which desserts have the fewest calories. For instance, pumpkin pie without whipped cream has fewer calories than pecan pie. A gelatin dessert may be a better option than a huge piece of cake. Be smart, and you can still enjoy a sweet reward!

We at Coastal Orthopedics wish you and yours a healthy and happy holiday season! Just know that if need us, we’ll be here. Call us at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment here. Happy eating!