The holiday season is arriving in full force and you’re wondering how to enjoy this time of year while at the same time feel good and stay healthy on dialysis. This can sometimes be challenging but definitely achievable!
Food is usually the center of holiday traditions. Since a lot of traditional holiday foods tend to be high in added salt, potassium and phosphorus, learning what your better options are and being aware of portion size is key to staying healthy this time of year.
This blog post will cover some holiday eating tips for dialysis patients and give you ideas of what foods are better choices so that you can enjoy a healthy and happy holiday season.
Before we get into the food, I feel it’s important to cover some non-food related tips in order to stay healthy this time of year.
- Make sure you don’t skip any dialysis treatments or cut your treatment time. It is really important that you are receiving adequate dialysis in order to feel good. Your dietitian or doctor can tell you what your Kt/V is (a measure of dialysis adequacy).
- Get enough sleep! This seems simple, but adequate sleep plays an important role in your overall health.
- Keep moving. Staying on a regular exercise schedule whether it’s walking after meals, hoping on a bike for 15 minutes, yoga, stretching, any kind of movement can be so beneficial.
- Incorporate stress management techniques into your daily routine. The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Spending just 5-10 minutes daily practicing meditation, prayer, deep breathing techniques, journaling, etc. can help you better manage stressful situations instead of reacting to them.
Be Mindful of Fluids & Salt
This is probably one of the most difficult things to manage but soooo important, especially if you make minimal to no urine.
The more fluid you gain in between dialysis treatments and the more that has to be pulled off during dialysis the worse you are going to feel.
The more salt or sodium you get in your diet the more fluid your body is going to retain and the thirstier you will be! So, keep track of how much you are drinking throughout the day and avoid those salty holiday foods.
- Ham is very high in sodium. Just one 3 oz serving can contain over 1,000 mg of sodium. The same goes for processed meats like bacon, sausage, deli meats or canned meats.
- If buying a turkey look for a “natural” fresh turkey instead of a self-basted turkey. Also, a lot of frozen turkeys can have added sodium and phosphates so be sure to read your food labels. Fresh is best.
- Avoid boxed stuffing and pre-made gravy. Instead make your own which will be much lower in sodium (and phosphorus).
- Watch the bread. You don’t usually think of salt when you eat bread but bread is actually one of the biggest sources of sodium in our diet. Look for low sodium bread when you can.
For other tips on managing your fluid and salt intake check out my previous blog Fluid Restriction On Dialysis.
Choose Lower Potassium Options
There are a lot of popular holiday sides, desserts, and beverages that are very high in potassium, but don’t worry because there are lower potassium options for you!
Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are popular sides this time of year which happen to be very high in potassium.
If you really want to include one of these sides, one option can be using the double boil method which helps reduce the potassium content.
The double boil method: fill a large pot with water and boil peeled and thinly sliced or diced potatoes/sweet potatoes for 10 minutes. Strain, replace the water and re-boil for another 10 minutes. Enjoy in moderation!
When it comes to controlling your potassium levels – or anything for that matter – portion size is key! So enjoy a small amount and balance out your total potassium intake throughout the day.
If you know you’re going to eat a higher than normal potassium dinner then make sure to eat low potassium foods and drinks for breakfast and lunch.
The following infographic should be helpful in determining what your better choices are.
Holiday Eating Tips For Dialysis Patients
Below are a few recommendations for making lower sodium, potassium, and phosphorus choices while still enjoying your holiday meal!
Here are a few dialysis friendly recipes to include in your holiday meal:
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes
- Thanksgiving stuffing – use low sodium broth to decrease the sodium content.
- Low sugar cranberry sauce
- Oven baked zucchini fries – you can also use an air fryer for less cooking time.
- Roasted green beans and mushrooms
- Honey ginger carrots
- Low sodium gravy
- Pumpkin free pie
Enjoying Your Holiday Meal
You should now feel more confident about making healthier dialysis friendly food choices this holiday season.
If you are spending your holiday at a friend’s or family’s house, a good idea is to bring a few of these dishes with you so you know you’re taken care of.
Plan ahead and start your morning off with a good balanced breakfast with a whole grain, protein and fruit or vegetable (for example: oatmeal with 1/2 cup blueberries, almond milk, 1 egg).
That way, you are taking care of your nutrition needs and not arriving starving for your holiday meal. This can help you avoid over-eating and making poor food choices.
Just remember this time of year is about more than just the food. It’s about gratitude and being able to enjoy the opportunity to connect with loved ones and friends. The food is definitely a nice bonus!
Make sure to leave me a comment if you found these holiday eating tips for dialysis patients helpful. Cheers to a healthy and happy holiday season!