The human capacity for self-criticism spans far and wide — fingers, included. But we all have insecurities, and if you're dreaming of longer, leaner fingers, you're definitely not alone.
Losing weight may help reduce excess fat on your fingers and the rest of your body. But if your digits feel a little larger than usual, you may be experiencing some fluid retention. As it turns out, there are measures you can take right now to help minimize these symptoms.
Weight Loss for Slimmer Fingers
Unfortunately, spot-reducing fat in specific areas of your body isn't possible. Different bodies tend to hold fat in different areas. But dropping some body fat and achieving a healthy weight may help your fingers slim out.
Whether your goal is slimmer fingers or leaner legs, the fat loss process is the same. First, establish how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight (hint: either use a calorie-tracking app or food diary to monitor your daily intake over the course of a week or two).
Once you have a general idea of how many calories you eat each day, you can safely trim around 500 a day to burn more calories than you consume — also known as a calorie deficit, according to the Mayo Clinic. A calorie deficit will help you lose weight, but bear in mind that your fingers won't necessarily slim out right away.
To cut calories from your daily diet, start by minimizing the processed foods you eat each day. Fill your plate with whole foods instead, including plenty of fruit and vegetables of different colors. Plant foods are a good choice because they're dense in nutrients and low in calories, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
When it comes to carbs, prioritize healthy, whole grains, like quinoa or brown rice, and cut back on refined options like bread and cereal. Similarly, limit your red meat intake and focus on lean proteins like chicken, fish or low-fat dairy.
When cutting calories for weight loss, women shouldn't fall below 1,200 calories per day, and men should stay above 1,500 to avoid nutritional deficiencies, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Fluid Retention in the Fingers
Another reason your fingers may feel or appear larger is due to swelling or fluid retention, also known as edema, according to the Mayo Clinic. Excess fluid can get trapped in your body's tissues and can be especially prominent in the hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs. In some cases, fluid can gather in your fingers, making them swollen or puffy.
Edema occurs when tiny blood vessels in the body leak fluid. More mild cases of swelling can be caused by sitting in the same position, eating too much salty food or premenstrual symptoms. In other cases, edema can be the side effect of medications used to treat high blood pressure or inflammation.
It can be hard to pinpoint one single cause of fluid retention, but if you're otherwise healthy, it could come down to sitting at a desk for long hours and/or snacking on processed foods.
If swelling or fluid retention is accompanied by shortness of breath or chest pain, see a doctor immediately.
Reducing Swelling in Your Fingers
There are a few measures you can take to help decrease swelling in your fingers, starting with the foods you eat. Especially if you're salt-sensitive, watch your sodium intake by reading food labels, recommends Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table.
Try to avoid eating more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is about a teaspoon, according to the American Heart Association. Cut back on foods that are particularly salty, like pickles, olives and salty snack foods, like chips, Taub-Dix says.
Some foods are also sneakily high in salt, like bread, canned soup, condiments, dressings and cold cuts. Instead, opt for low-sodium versions of these salt-laden options.
Also, try and get some more movement in your hands to help push excess fluid back toward your heart, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Elevating the swelling above your heart several times a day can also help bring down symptoms. Even massaging your hands and fingers can help move excess fluid out of the area.
While these measures will help reduce temporary swelling, the size of your fingers is ultimately determined by your genetics. Keep in mind that accessorizing with bracelets or rings can give your fingers a slimmer appearance.
Or give yourself a fresh manicure (yes, men can get them too!). This won't necessarily make your fingers appear thinner or slimmer, but it may help boost your confidence if you're insecure about this particular body part.