If you’re someone who lives and breathes good food – especially good local food – getting diagnosed with gout is almost akin to a death sentence. Say goodbye to a refreshing pint of Tiger Beer, the juicy liver in ba chor mee (aka the best part), chilli crab, cereal prawn, and basically anything that used to give you a massive sugar rush as a kid. These trigger foods can cause pain and swelling in joints (e.g. toes, knee, ankle, hand, wrist, elbow) for people with gout.
New to this condition? Here’s a quick overview on this common disease. Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis. Although gout can affect anyone, it usually hits men earlier than women due to the higher levels of uric acid present in their bodies. You are more likely to get gout as well if you are obese, have diabetes, or have a family history of gout. Gout “attacks” occur when there is a build-up of uric acid, and it can be very painful.
A friend of mine couldn’t walk for a day due to a throbbing pain in his toe after consuming a single measly prawn. However, gout can be managed with a combination of medications, a controlled “gout diet”, and lifestyle changes.
Food Do’s and Don’ts for Gout
I’m a bad news before good news kind of guy, so before we get to what you can eat, what can’t you eat? As a general rule of thumb – avoid foods high in purines, which is the component that your body breaks down into uric acid.
Here is a list of high-purine foods to avoid:
- Red meat (e.g. beef, pork)
- Organ meats (e.g. liver, beef tongue, tripe)
- Seafood (e.g. shellfish, sardines, anchovies, fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel)
- Alcoholic beverages
- High-fructose, overly sugary foods and fruits (e.g. ice cream, cakes, sodas, fruit juice, durian)
- High-purine vegetables (e.g. asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, peas, beans – not necessary to avoid but limit consumption)
- Processed food
- Refined carbohydrates
So with that out of the way, what can you still enjoy?
Here is a list of low-purine foods that are typically recommended, or typically safe to consume if you’re on a ‘gout diet’:
- Low-fat dairy
- Most fresh fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains (e.g. oats, brown rice, barley)
- Pasta and bread (in moderation)
- Cooked fish – but in moderation (e.g. Whitefish, monkfish, snapper, halibut)
- Coffee and tea
What to order at your favourite kopitiam?
You’ve seen the list – you can probably guess that bak kut teh, prawn mee, kway chup, and beef/pork broths are now out of the option.
Please don’t think that you are simply confined to chicken breast and kailan from the caifan store which, don’t get me wrong, is also a delicious and wonderfully healthy option. Thankfully, there’re still lots of local food to be enjoyed without triggering a flare-up. Some of these include:
- Fish soup
- Chicken curry
- Yong Tau Fu (avoid “trigger” ingredients)
- Grilled chicken wings
- Roti prata
- Teochew porridge with side dishes
- Chicken rice, duck rice
- Ayam Penyet
Gout is a chronic condition that isn’t life-threatening, but it does increase risk of premature death and can lead to complications; the pain can also be very disruptive to daily activities. Research has also shown that chronic conditions are highly linked to poor mental health, especially for individuals who are unable to manage the symptoms and adapt to a new lifestyle.
Living with gout doesn’t have to be boring, you can still be adventurous with your meals. People living with gout do continue to enjoy most foods every once in a while, they just make adjustments to the dish and/or stay away from the main trigger ingredients altogether. We hope that you found something on the list that you can enjoy at your local kopitiam today. If you’re a gout-sufferer and are seeking treatment, do reach out to us. We're always a click away.
Koh Su Hock
Chief Customer Officer (CCO)