By DaVita® Dietitian Heather Ansley, RD, LD
The holidays can bring an abundance of joy, but there is often an over abundance of treats as well. From Halloween through the New Year, dinners, parties and social events are the source of many a diner’s delight — or a dieter’s nightmare. The candies, cookies, cakes and pies represent just a few of the pitfalls faced by a person trying to eat healthy. But if you succumbed to temptation, it’s not too late to get back onto the path of eating well when you have kidney disease.
For those with chronic kidney disease (CKD), the challenge of sticking with a kidney diet can be challenging compared to a regular diet. As with any challenge, having a plan can be the key to eating healthier after the holidays. And although the holidays are over, there are some places and situations where it’s hard to say no to leftover goodies. Below are suggestions to help you overcome any food-related obstacle.
Obstacle to overcome: The workplace
- Holiday office gatherings are great ways to mingle with people at work. But even if the parties are over, people still bring in leftover hors d'oeuvres and sweets to share with coworkers. Typically these foods are laden with an unhealthy amount of fat, sugar and sodium.
- Your plan: Indulge in healthier options from the foods that are offered (like fresh vegetables and fruits allowed for your kidney diet). If healthy foods are nowhere to be found, pack some kidney-friendly snacks to take to work. When others are munching on desserts in the common kitchen area, bring your snack over so that you can still socialize. Is the food still too tempting to resist? Eat in moderation by having half of what you’d normally eat so you can satisfy a craving. Or better yet, avoid the area where food is shared.
Obstacle to overcome: Family gatherings
- Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean everyone’s not eating leftovers. Who can resist mom’s cornbread dressing? Or grandma’s pumpkin pie? Or your cousin’s fabulous fudge dessert? Someone has to finish it, right?
- Your plan: Turn leftovers into kidney-friendly meals, or give away foods you need to limit to your family or neighbors. And the next time your family has a gathering offer to host it. That way you can plan the menu and make sure to serve options that fit into your kidney diet. If someone else is hosting, offer to bring a dish or two to ensure you have healthy choices. Be honest with your family. Let them know you are on a diet and that your health depends on adhering to it. To cut calories and sodium, choose lean meats, steamed vegetables and fruit desserts instead of fatty or fried meats, vegetables with cream sauce or cream-filled pies. For those special items you can’t resist, stick to a small portion and savor each bite. To keep potassium and phosphorus in check, stand by foods recommended on your kidney-friendly food plan.
Obstacle to overcome: Shopping trips
- Returning or exchanging gifts, or tackling end-of-the-year sales may be events you just can’t miss. And amid the hustle and bustle of after-holiday shopping is the challenge of dining out. Most restaurant and food court offerings are not the healthiest stops. Even salads can contain more than a day’s recommended amount of sodium and fat. The fact that many of the foods in these establishments contain additives and preservatives that are not kidney-friendly makes it more taxing to eat as you should.
- Your plan: Eat a healthy meal before hitting the stores. Take along a few kidney-friendly snacks so you aren’t tempted to eat unhealthy food. If you plan to have lunch out, check with your dietitian about healthy dining options. Ask for guidelines on the best restaurant and fast food choices. You can also plan a quick-fix or slow cooker dinner so you won’t have to worry about preparing a meal after a long day of shopping.
With a little planning, preparation and perseverance you can start your New Year’s resolution of eating kidney-friendly with confidence. Don’t forget to check out resources like DaVita.com and the DaVita Diet Helper online meal planner for further tips on how to eat a kidney-friendly diet after the holidays.