Top 8 Tips for Neuropathy Sufferers on Thanksgiving
When we celebrate Thanksgiving in modern day America, we often reflect on how — even when things are tough — we are blessed to have what we have. When you’re dealing with neuropathy, you know it isn’t that simple.
Around this time of year, things tend to get stressful and you often need a quick pick-me-up. That is the goal for this blog: it is designed to give you quick tips to help you focus on the important things in life. Below are the Top 8 Tips for Neuropathy Sufferers on Thanksgiving (food, choices, and advice).
Tip #1: Know Your Food
As a general rule, understanding the nutritional value and added benefits of symptom relief from food is key to surviving neuropathy. You can really hurt your progress by overindulging on Thanksgiving Day; sitting down at the dinner table with a game plan can really help you feel your best in the long run.
Arm yourself with knowledge of what is going to be served (if you are going elsewhere for the holiday) or what you will be serving at home. Unfortunately, symptoms vary from person to person so you will be the best judge for yourself.
The following articles will help you design your own personalized Thanksgiving food plan:
Tip #2: Manage Your Stress
I wish it were just that simple. “Do this, and you’re stress-free!” Especially on a holiday, right?
The commotion of the busy kitchen, yelling about football, and everything in between is comforting for some. For others, not so much. Or perhaps someone is running late. Or maybe you pulled the turkey out of the oven and it isn’t cooked thoroughly.
Talk about stressful!
The best advice here is to have a plan. Anticipate something taking longer to cook and consider seating arrangements. Would you prefer if something was cleaned before the guests arrive? Do you think you’ll need to take medicine before or after the meal?
Be proactive about your day before you have to react to something gone wrong! Have a plan B every step of the way.
Here are a few websites I find beneficial when dealing with stress (for your future reference):
Tip #3: Care For Your Feet
We all know the signs and symptoms of neuropathy: foot pain, tingling, and loss of balance are usually the most common, according to Mayo Clinic (number one symptom). What most people do not realize is that this can be incredibly dangerous during the holiday season.
We are typically cooking, moving, and interacting much more frequently during this time of year. We have to take precaution to keep ourselves and others safe.
Use your most comfortable socks and shoes for the day. It is important to remember comfortability over fashion during the holiday season; you can thank me later!
Taking short but frequent breaks can be really beneficial on Thanksgiving Day. Divide the hours of the day into incremental 15-minute sections and plan your breaks frequently.
Finally, give your feet a good maintenance session and inspection before the day begins:
- visually inspect your feet for bumps, sores, and cuts
- trim toenails
- moisturize, but not between the toes
- keep your feet warm
- do not over-moisturize
Your feet are like the wheels on your car. You must take care of them!
Below is an additional resource regarding foot care:
Tip #4: Avoid Bad Posture
Nerve damage can be caused in many ways, but one of the more unknown ways is through prolonged pressure. This simply means that resting in certain positions may cause further nerve damage and exacerbation of your symptoms.
A couple of examples would be sitting with your elbows on your knees, crossing your legs, and leaning sideways on your elbow.
Sit in different chairs throughout the day. If you do have a habit of sitting in a position similar to the examples listed above, the variation in chairs may help avoid sitting in one particularly bad position for an extended amount of time.
Additionally, try setting a 20-minute timer that reminds you to be mindful of your posture (I use a smartwatch).
Follow this link to read more about how posture can affect your nerves:
Tip #5: Catch A Breath of Fresh Air
Thanksgiving Day is perhaps one of the more stressful holidays in my household.
The kids are screaming, the dogs are barking, and with the millions of things to do, I can really get stressed out!
It’s hard to focus on what is important, gather your thoughts, and prepare for round two when you are so stressed, tired, and ready for a nap.
When you feel like this, try taking a quick break outside. If you are in an area that gets cold (like here in Idaho), bring a jacket.
Over time, the rush of technology has pushed humans further and further inside. Phones, computers, television, and other amazing technological advancements have made getting a breath of fresh air almost uncommon to some.
Here are some fantastic articles walking you through the benefits of taking your break on the other side of that wall:
- Why Getting Fresh Air Is So Good For You (HuffPost)
- Why Fresh Air Is Essential (Beneden Health)
- The Effects of Sunlight and Fresh Air on the Body (Livestrong)
Tip #6: Be A Team Player
There are many things to prepare on Thanksgiving and doing it alone would be so challenging. Some of us (I am guilty of this) like to take the hardest tasks for themselves in order to let our family enjoy themselves.
To make the day easier on everyone involved, be a team player! Delegate family and friends to be in charge of various tasks so you can focus on the big picture; it is also a great bonding activity when everyone in the house works together.
The majority of our family and friends know what it takes to host Thanksgiving and they want to help. Sometimes it just takes a leadership mentality to make things operate efficiently!
Pulled from The Kitchn, here is a list of roles you can delegate to make your Turkey Day a little more manageable:
- The Cleaner
- The Decorator
- The Greeter
- The Drinks Master
- The Carver
Here are a couple additional roles I thought might help:
- The Dish Collector
- The Drink Refiller
- The Entertainer (music, television, etc)
Tip #7: Know When To Throw In The Towel
What is worse than having neuropathy? Being exhausted, sore, and in severe pain because you overworked yourself and having neuropathy.
It will be great to have your entire family together for Thanksgiving and you will be much more inclined to be active with the kiddos and the rest of the young ones. You are also more likely to mingle while standing (putting pressure on your nerves in your feet).
This often leads to unexpected pain the next day or exacerbated symptoms (when was the last time your lifted weights and stretched your IT bands?).
Know when you need to have someone else take over. It is much better for you to take the breaks as you need them than to overexert yourself and pay dearly for it later.
I can promise you one thing: everyone in your family would prefer to offer a helping hand as opposed to seeing you manage everything by yourself.
Tip #8: Enjoy Yourself
All of these tips aside, Thanksgiving Day is really about being grateful to the ones in your heart and surrounding you at the table when you enjoy that meal.
The desserts, drinks, and delicious cuts of meat in front of you are not all bad. All foods are okay in moderation!
Again, you know yourself better than anyone else. Really consider the negatives of overindulgence of any of the food prior to eating.
One thing I like to do on Thanksgiving is sample everything on one plate!
Have a small amount of each food item on your plate in as much color, taste, and texture variety as possible; this satisfies my palate for different foods while sending the signal to my brain that you are full (because I eat slower than normal).
Be sure to understand the nutritional value, as well — it can be a lot:
- How Many Calories Are on Your Thanksgiving Plate (the Daily Meal)
BONUS: Set Boundaries
I do not know about you, but I have never heard of a family without its share of problems and issues.
Without setting boundaries, undue stress can be caused to you and your family.
Being honest and open about things causing you discomfort and stress is much better than stressing out over it and boiling over later when everyone is enjoying their meal.
Try to set boundaries on serious issues prior to family and friends arriving; this mitigates the chance of confrontation and stress on a particularly hard day for you.
This guide covered 9 total tips to get you through Thanksgiving. To recap:
- Know your food. Understand how the food and beverages you consume will affect your nerves, mental acuity, and symptoms.
- Manage your stress. Have a plan B for everything. Be proactive instead of reactive.
- Take care of your feet. You will likely be on your feet more often on Thanksgiving Day, so be sure to wear comfortable socks and shoes. Be sure to perform maintenance on your feet prior to getting busy.
- Avoid bad posture. Sit in different chairs throughout the day to avoid bad habits. Set a timer to be more aware of your posture.
- Catch a breath of fresh air. Use the cold air to your advantage by taking your break in the outdoors.
- Be a team player. Delegate members of your family and friends to certain key leadership roles.
- Know when to take a long break or have someone take over. If things are overwhelming you or you can not seem to recover, have someone else lead.
- Enjoy yourself. Enjoy the food and drinks in moderation. Try sampling a small amount of everything on your first plate and then make healthier choices for your second plate.
- Set boundaries. To avoid undue confrontation or stress, try setting boundaries prior to the start of the celebration. Be open and honest while keeping your stress levels low and family cohesive.
Thanksgiving is an amazing opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. We hope this guide serves as a tool to managing your symptoms this holiday.
Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Neuropathy Treatment Group!
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