Top 10 tips for the holidays
By Leonora Chao, MSc, RD
As the holiday season approaches, it’s a good time to plan ahead to avoid the pitfalls of over-indulgence.
Here are 10 tips to help people on dialysis safely enjoy holiday eating:
Decide on your menu by making a list of kidney-friendly holiday foods. Start by choosing your holiday entrée, then your choice of sides, garden fruits and vegetables, desserts, and beverages. Find out what types of foods will be served and don’t be afraid to offer to bring a dish that you can eat and enjoy. If you feel comfortable, ask your host ahead of time to prepare something that is kidney-friendly.
Don’t arrive hungry. Avoid skipping meals and consider eating a healthy snack before you go. If you’re starving, you may overeat or be tempted to consume foods and drinks that may not be healthy for you.
Practice mindful eating – eat slowly and savour your foods. Pay attention to your body’s fullness signals.
Carry your medications with you, including phosphorus binders. If you’re on phosphorus binders, remember to take them as prescribed. This will help bind the phosphorus and keep it out of your blood.
Watch your portion sizes – if you’re tempted to overeat, consider using smaller plates. Rather than grazing throughout the party, it’ll be easier to remember how much you’ve eaten by keeping track of how many times you filled your plate. Beware of buffets and “all-you-can-eat” occasions; it’s okay to say “no thanks” when someone suggests you re-join them in the buffet line or offers you “seconds”.
If you must limit your fluid intake – use smaller cups, or ask for ice. Consider saving up your fluids earlier in the day for later to help lessen the worry about extra fluid removal on dialysis. Limiting salt (sodium) also helps control thirst. Think beyond the salt shaker; consider the sodium content of processed foods, sauces, condiments, and salty snacks.
Be wary of the potassium – avoid big portions of foods you know are high in potassium; including bananas, potatoes (sweet or white), yam, squash, pies (with mincemeat, pumpkin or pecan), dried fruit desserts, chocolate, nuts, and chips.
Keep meals balanced with protein – holiday meals can be rich in carbohydrates but lacking in protein. Getting enough protein can be a challenge for people on dialysis. Ensure that your holiday meal includes good sources of protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, or meat alternatives from plant foods.
Know your numbers – do you know how your blood tests have been lately? Have you been running high levels of potassium or phosphorus that require you to be extra careful with choosing healthier foods?
Be active with family and friends – while the holidays and food tend to go hand-in-hand, spending quality time with loved ones doesn’t require eating. Holiday parties are times to be social, so enjoy the company and conversation. Fun activities that don’t require food can make your holidays special, and as a bonus, you’ll get some exercise without even trying.
Before the holiday season is in full force, ask your dietitian for suggestions of holiday foods that you can enjoy while following your kidney-diet. Your dietitian may be able to help you to adapt some of your favourite recipes to your specific dietary needs so you don’t feel left out at the holiday dinner.
Try Spice it up! holiday recipes