7 Expert Tips for Holiday Eating with Chronic Kidney Disease

People at holiday dinner serving kidney friendly foods

Millions of people in the United States live with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that affects the kidneys’ ability to filter waste and excessive fluids from blood. For those living with CKD, maintaining a healthy diet is essential to manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease.

With the holiday season in full swing, it can be challenging to stick to kidney-friendly foods. However, it is not impossible! Planning ahead for a holiday meal plan that’s kidney friendly is one of the most effective strategies to manage CKD, so it’s worth the effort. Here are seven expert tips to help you plan ahead for kidney-friendly meals during this festive time.

1. Monitor Sodium Intake

Sodium intake can significantly affect people with CKD, as their kidneys may struggle in filtering out excess sodium from the body. To manage your sodium intake during holiday meals, limit processed and canned food items, and instead opt for kidney-friendly foods like fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. You can also try rinsing canned foods like beans or tuna to reduce their sodium content.

2. Stay Hydrated While Celebrating

During the holiday season, it’s essential to stay hydrated, especially if you have CKD. People with CKD are more susceptible to dehydration as their kidneys may not be able to function correctly in regulating fluid levels. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid or limit consumption of alcoholic beverages, which can also contribute to dehydration.

3. Make Smart Protein Choices

Protein is an essential component of a healthy diet, but too much protein intake can put additional strain on the kidneys. It’s important for people with CKD to choose their protein sources carefully, looking for kidney-friendly foods. Opt for lean protein options like fish, chicken, or tofu instead of processed meats like bacon or hot dogs.

4. Manage Potassium and Phosphorus

People with CKD may also need to monitor their intake of certain minerals like potassium and phosphorus. These minerals are found in many foods, and excess consumption can lead to complications in people with CKD. During holiday meals, try to limit foods high in potassium and phosphorus like dark leafy greens, potatoes, and dairy products, opting for more kidney-friendly foods.

5. Enjoy Kidney-Friendly Holiday Desserts

Holiday desserts can be tempting, but the typical confections are often loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats. People with CKD can still indulge in sweet treats by planning ahead for kidney-friendly dessert options like fruit salads, gelatin desserts, or baked apples. These alternatives are lower in sugar and can still satisfy a sweet tooth.

6. Use a Smaller Plate

During holiday meals, it’s easy to overindulge and fill up on unhealthy foods. A simple tip to avoid this is by using a smaller plate. This will naturally limit the portion size and help you make more mindful food choices, so you can enjoy all your favorite foods (kidney-friendly or otherwise) in moderate amounts.

7. Avoid Processed Meats

Processed meats are high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and other additives that can be harmful to people with CKD. Instead of reaching for the deli meat or sausage during holiday meals, opt for fresh kidney-friendly foods like grilled chicken or fish.

Bonus Tip: Find Ways to Stay Active

Staying active is crucial for maintaining overall health, including kidney health. During the holiday season, it can be challenging to stick to a regular exercise routine. However, finding small ways to stay physically active, like taking a walk after meals or dancing at holiday parties, can make a big difference—and it can be a lot of fun too!

Texas Kidney Institute is Here to Help

The Texas Kidney Institute (TKI) is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients with kidney disease. Our team of experts, including nephrologists and nutritionists, can help you develop a personalized plan for managing CKD during the holidays with kidney-friendly foods. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for support and guidance.

With proper planning and the right strategies, you can enjoy a happy, healthy holiday season while managing your CKD.  So keep these tips in mind to make it easier for you to stick to your kidney-friendly diet during this festive time! Happy Holidays from the Texas Kidney Institute!