From Thanksgiving to the new year, patients with kidney failure in particular must be careful what and how much they eat. Holiday foods are replete with phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. Therefore, it takes some effort for kidney patients to be extra adherent to their renal diets. Here are some tips from one of our favorite renal dietitians on how to eat healthy year-round.
(1) Avoid Fad Diets
Avoid fad diets once and for all. They simply don’t work because there are no secrets or quick and easy answers to permanent weight loss. Here’s a prescription for weight loss that you can count on:
Cut back on your calories; and
It won’t be easy, and it’s not a quick fix, but you will lose weight if you stick to eating less and exercising more. Keep in mind that your weight gain didn’t happen overnight. It will take just as long to lose weight.
(2) Exercise Daily
Daily exercise helps to increase your longevity and energy level. Studies have shown that no matter how old you are, exercise can make you stronger and give you more energy. People on dialysis who exercise do more things, feel better, and have a greater sense of control over their lives. Start small with just 10-15 minutes by walking on a treadmill or in a shopping mall.
Join your local YMCA and work with a personal trainer who will teach you how to use the exercise equipment. Or try the water aerobics classes. It really doesn’t matter whether you walk or run… The point is to find something that you enjoy and will do everyday.
(3) Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals
Body weight that stays off in the long run initially looks like a loss of 1-2 pounds per week. After a while, you will hit a plateau where you will stop losing weight.
Don’t give up during this time! No matter how long this plateau lasts, it will eventually end, and you will start losing weight again.
(4) Slow Down While Eating
It takes 20 minutes to send the signal that you’ve had enough to eat. What should you do?
Stop eating when you feel full. Walk away from the table feeling that you can eat a little bit more.
(5) Eat More Fiber
Fiber is important in promoting health and may help to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. It helps in cancer prevention and controlling blood sugars in those with diabetes.
Fiber is easy to incorporate in the renal diet. Try substituting fresh fruit like apples with skin, blueberries, or strawberries instead of drinking fruit juice.
(6) Beware of Hidden Sodium Sources in Enhanced Meats
Enhanced meats are fresh or frozen and injected with water, salt, sodium phosphate solution, and other natural flavorings. Enhancers are injected into meats to preserve moisture and to make them more tender and flavorful.
Enhanced meats are found in fresh meat cases and freezer sections of almost all local grocery stores. Brands of meat can vary from store to store, so read the label carefully. The label may read: “This product is enhanced up to 10% with solution containing water, salt, and sodium phosphate.”
(7) Take Your Phosphate Binders
Keeping your phosphorus under control is an important part of managing bone disease or secondary hyperparathyroidism. Carry your phosphate binders with you wherever you go so you can take them with every meal and snack.
Keep extra binders at the homes of your friends and family. If you are not yet on dialysis, don’t forget to take your active vitamin D as prescribed by your doctor.
(8) Eat Your Allowed Fruits and Vegetables Daily
It’s easy to get all your fruits and veggies everyday. Try some of these ideas: add grated, shredded, or chopped vegetables–zucchini, carrots, summer squash–to meat loaf, leached mashed potatoes, poultry, pasta, and grain dishes. Add puree berries, apples or pears for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry.
Use pureed fruit such as applesauce in place of about half the fat in recipes for pancakes or breads. For flavor, texture, and nutrients, blend in shredded zucchini, carrots, or dried fruits in casseroles or in breads.
(9) Avoid Overeating, and Never Skip Breakfast
To help keep that extra weight off, avoid overeating later in the day. Start off by eating a healthy breakfast.
Later in the day, you can even try a smaller portion of scrambled eggs with low sodium sausage or French toast. If you are on the run, grab a nutrition or cereal bar.
(10) Avoid Herbal Supplements
Never take any over-the-counter medications or herbal supplements/remedies unless you consult your physician or renal dietitian first.
Always remember that, while many herbal supplements may be safe for most people without renal disease, they may not be safe for you.
About the Author
Maria Karalis, MBA, RD, LDN, is a Nutrition Consultant and Writer and has worked in the nephrology field for over 17 years. She enjoys writing for healthcare professionals and people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) with one goal in mind: helping CKD patients live their life to the fullest. This article was originally published on the iKidney.com website, supported by Watson Pharma, Inc.
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