Many of our holiday celebrations involve an abundance of tempting food. This can be a challenge when you know that your diet can affect your body’s inflammation level and make it more difficult to manage conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or psoriatic arthritis.

Among the wide array of traditional holiday foods, it’s important to know which can trigger inflammation and which fight it. Learn more: What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?

Fortunately, there are ways you can make some adjustments or substitutions to bring holiday favorites in line with your anti-inflammatory diet.

Read more: An Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Arthritis

Instead of…Salted, Dry Roasted Peanuts
Choose…Unsalted Almonds or Pistachios

Nuts are packed with inflammation-fighting “good” monounsaturated fat, especially almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, and pistachios. They also make a great snack because their protein and fiber can make you feel fuller.


But try to avoid nuts that have added salt or have been roasted, because the salt and/or oil they were roasted in can introduce sodium and trans fats—both of which can trigger inflammation. Stick to raw, unsalted nuts…and watch your portion sizes, because nuts contain a lot of calories.

See What Are Anti-Inflammatory Foods?

Instead of…Mashed Potatoes
Choose…..Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon

Some people with arthritis find that nightshade vegetables—such as potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers—can aggravate their inflammatory reactions. However, sweet potatoes are not part of the nightshade family, and they’re also chock full of healthy vitamin A. Sprinkling them with a little cinnamon adds an extra anti-inflammatory punch.

Read more: Dietary Supplements for Treating Arthritis

Instead of…Desserts with Shortening, White Flour, or Sugar
Choose….Desserts with Canola Oil, Whole Wheat Flour, or Honey

It would be a tall order to avoid holiday baked goods altogether, so the good news is baked breads and pastries can still be friendly to anti-inflammatory diets if you use smart ingredients. You want to steer clear of trans or saturated fats, refined grains, and refined sugar. Instead, use whole wheat flour and natural sweeteners.

See Can a Gluten-Free Diet Relieve Joint Pain?

This may be easiest to do if you provide a homemade pie or cake for get-togethers. Keep in mind that store-bought baked goods are nearly always high in trans fats and refined ingredients, so they’re best avoided.

Or skip the baking altogether and have some fruit drizzled with dark chocolate—both are rich in antioxidants.

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