Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Kidney Care Center

Kidney News

Healthy diet

Healthy eating during the holidays

Healthy eating during the holidays

Dec 22nd 2021
Author: Amna N.
Review: Dr. Umair H.

The holiday season is typically a time for celebration. In many traditions, food signifies family, togetherness, and sharing. Food has always been an essential part of holiday celebrations in the US. It can be challenging for people living with chronic kidney disease (CKD). There are, however, still ways CKD patients can enjoy their favorite holiday foods and maintain their dietary restrictions. Patients living with CKD must follow certain dietary guidelines, including limited intake of protein, sodium (salt), potassium, phosphorus, whereas for people with diabetes, carbohydrates. So long as you consider and control your portion sizes during holiday dinners, it’s a lot easier to stay within your dietary constraints.

Sodium is found in many holiday foods like ham, smoked meat, sausage, cheese, stuffing, dips, chips, fishcake, poke, shoyu, and gravy. While choosing salty foods, use a snack size plate, so that you are less likely to eat large portions of the same item. Use condiments in moderation or put them on the side. You can dilute shoyu or any other soy sauce by adding equal parts of water. This will help lower its sodium content. You can also use tamari or liquid aminos instead as they contain less sodium. High potassium foods include any kind of potatoes, yams, taro and poi, breadfruit, squash, pumpkin, dark leafy greens, seaweed, tomato and tomato sauce, melon, banana, dried fruits, acai, avocado, and coconut. If you have options for starchy foods, it’s better to choose rice, grains, or pasta, and if diabetic, limit to the size of a computer mouse. Salads or vegetables are a healthy meal choice. Choose fruit pies like peach or apple for dessert, or plain cakes or shortbread cookies without nuts or chocolate. Ambrosia salad or fruits are another good dessert choice.

Holiday foods that are high in phosphorus include most dairy-based dishes and desserts (milk, cream, or cheese); also processed foods, nuts, chocolate, and cola sodas are very high in phosphorus. Instead of choosing brownies with nuts or chocolate cake, try plain cake or cookies, or fruit-based desserts. If you need to restrict your dietary phosphorus and are on dialysis, make sure to take your phosphate binders with all meals and snacks. It will help to control the amount of phosphorus you absorb from your meals. If your physician has given you a fluid restriction, keep in mind that all foods that become liquid at room temperature count as part of your daily fluid intake. Soups, jello, ice cream, pudding, and gravy are included in fluids. Reducing salt in your diet can also help you to feel less thirsty. It’s okay to have a glass of wine, as long as your physician has approved of alcoholic beverages consumption. Enjoy sparkling cider, club soda with a twist, lemon-lime soda, or iced tea.

Know how much carbohydrate and protein you are allowed on your kidney diet! In general, if you limit yourself to a deck of cards-sized portions of protein (less if you have stage 4 or 5 CKD and are not on dialysis), ½ cup of rice, stuffing, or vegetables, and limit your beverages to a 4-ounce serving, you will still be able to enjoy your holiday meal. In the US, most people have a lot of events to attend that include food. If you are able, try to plan ahead and avoid going to parties hungry, as you may tend to overeat throughout the day. Create a balanced plate and remember your serving sizes at all times. Bring along a kidney-friendly dish so that you have something to eat in case there are no kidney-friendly options. Lastly, remember to keep active throughout the holiday season. The most important thing to remember is to keep your own health at the forefront of your mind and get the support of family and friends to ensure you have a healthy holiday season. Enjoy!