12 Kidney Diet Success Secrets for the Holidays

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.

It’s no secret that it takes extra effort for people with kidney disease to regulate sodium, potassium and phosphorus during the holiday season. However, there are some secret tricks you may be unaware of that will help you to stay in control.

We’ve gathered pointers from discussion forums, kidney disease support groups, dialysis center lobby conversations and dietitians’ everyday advice to help you stay healthy and manage your kidney diet during this holiday season. Let’s reveal the secrets:

Secret #1: People who keep a food diary maintain better diet control. By recording what you eat, you are more likely to stay on track and make more kidney-friendly food choices.

Secret # 2: Portion control is the key to keeping your potassium, sodium and phosphorus intake within an acceptable kidney diet limit. Remember: Every bite counts!

Secret #3: Tap into the power of your mind’s eye for help. Visualize your body staying healthy and maintaining normal levels of fluid, potassium, sodium and phosphorus.

Secret #4: Controlled cheating works. You can have that small portion of a food on the “limit” list as long as you keep it small — just enough to satisfy a craving.

Secret #5: Take your time and eat slowly, especially when you are enjoying a holiday treat or your favorite seasonal dish.

Secret #6: Read food labels and ingredients to check for extra phosphorus, sodium and potassium. If you go out to eat, inquire about how food is prepared and request that they not add salt to your order; also ask for dressings, gravies and sauces on the side when possible.

Secret #7: Double boil pumpkin, sweet potatoes and white potatoes to reduce potassium. Read the article “Lowering Potassium in Potatoes” for instructions.

Secret #8: Homemade broth, stuffing and salad dressing, as well as dips made with sour cream and herb seasonings, can make a vast difference in reducing sodium in your diet.

Secret #9: Smart holiday beverages include lemon-lime soda, cranberry juice and apple juice instead of high-potassium citrus juices. If you are on a fluid restriction, choose a very cold or hot beverage — it will last longer because you drink it slower.

Secret #10: Practice “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to tempting holiday foods. Place these items at the back of the pantry, refrigerator or freezer so you are not tempted to overeat.

Secret #11: Review your meal plan and food lists to refresh your memory on lower sodium, phosphorus and potassium food choices and those to limit.

Secret #12: Replace high-phosphorus dairy with nondairy substitutes that do not have phosphate additives, have popcorn or low-salt crackers instead of nuts and choose fruit-flavored candies instead of chocolate.

Bonus success secret: Don’t forget to take your binders! Phosphate binders aren’t just for your meals but also should be taken when you eat phosphorus-containing snacks. This secret, along with the others listed above, are sure to help you succeed in keeping phosphorus, potassium and sodium in check during the holidays.

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