Rheumatoid Arthritis and Weight Loss
Overweight and obesity rates continues to rise in the U.S., compromising the health of two out of three Americans. "Research shows overweight people with arthritis who lose 10 percent of their weight have better mobility and 50 percent less pain." The compounding advantages of weight management can ultimately contribute to a richer quality of life.
Overweight and obesity rates continues to rise in the U.S., compromising the health of two out of three Americans. Though essential across the board, people living with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit greatly from losing and maintaining a healthy weight. According to the Arthritis Foundation, weight loss can reduce pressure from joints, ease pain and inflammation, cut risks of chronic disease, and promote easier breathing. The foundation further mentions, "Research shows overweight people with arthritis who lose 10 percent of their weight have better mobility and 50 percent less pain." The compounding advantages of weight management can ultimately contribute to a richer quality of life.
How to Lose Weight with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Take It Slow and Steady
Weight loss is not a quick race and the process should be slow and steady, all while being consistent throughout the ongoing journey. It is also important to skip on shortcuts, as fad diets that promote weight loss tend to only last in the short-term or be ineffective altogether. Ultimately, sustainable and successful results are continuous and falls onto a comprehensive healthy lifestyle.
Go for Color
Though there is not a single rheumatoid arthritis diet, going for colorful foods is a common recommendation for symptom management and weight loss. From green leafy veggies to orangey citrus fruits, consuming fresh and colorful plants not only keeps calories naturally in check, but supplies antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body that may subside unpleasant side effects.
Mindful eating is a nonjudgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations while eating, supporting the concept of "all foods fit," stripping down the stigma of "unhealthy" or "bad" foods, and incorporating all foods within the diet. So rather than eating based on impulse, the practice supports individuals to intently focus on internal cues of hunger and satiety and external influences that drive behaviors to food intake. Recognizing and appreciating the characteristics of foods is also strong groundwork of mindful eating.
Watch Portion and Serving Sizes
Keep portions and calories naturally in check by filling at least half the plate with veggies, a quarter with a lean or plant-based protein, and complement with a whole grain and healthy fat source. Also before going for a second serving, wait to see if you are actually hungry by allowing time for food to settle, sipping on water, and practicing mindful eating.
Though you may be "taking it easy" related to discomfort and fear of further symptom exacerbation, physical activity can help mitigate such effects and assist in weight loss. There are several low-impact exercises that can be effective and tolerable, including walking, biking, and swimming. Joining group activities can also provide encouragement and motivation to keep you motivated to exercise, all while having fun! As always, talk with your primary care provider before jumping into any new exercise regimen.
Increase Water Intake
Water assists in weight loss efforts by regulating metabolism and controlling hunger levels throughout the day. As a general recommendation, aim for at least 64 ounces of water on a daily basis. Need help increasing water intake? Try one or all of these easy hacks or 13 ways to make your water taste better.
Inadequate sleep may be impacting weight loss goals, as too few hours of quality shuteye can reduce metabolism and energy levels and increase cravings to high-carb and fat foods. The National Sleep Foundation encourages sleeping seven to nine hours on a regular basis and can be achieved with more ease by formulating a bedtime schedule and reducing caffeine, alcohol, and large meals leading up to bed.