Holiday Eating on a Renal Diet

Holiday Eating On A Renal Diet

It's The Holidays!

It’s almost time for the big Turkey Day – Thanksgiving, and many people with kidney disease have been left to wonder what to eat on this holiday.  It probably feels difficult to follow a low protein, or low potassium or low anything type diet on the day that is the poster child for overeating!  Never fear, let me make your day a little easier.

Main Course

You can enjoy the main course – turkey!  It is low in fat (without the skin) and healthy.  Just make sure if you are on a low protein diet that you eat about 3-4 ounces which usually looks about the size of a deck of cards.  Add a little gravy and you are set with this yummy entrée.  If you are on dialysis, you can eat more protein since your diet requires higher levels of protein.  So, eat turkey accordingly.  PS – you can make low sodium broth for use later with the bones.  If you don’t want to make a large bird for the day, try roasted chicken or a smaller turkey breast.

For gravy, make it from pan drippings and thicken with flour or cornstarch to keep the sodium content low.  Gravy is low in potassium and phosphorus, but packaged gravy is high in sodium.  Watch out, though, pan drippings contain a lot of fat – you need some for the gravy but use caution.  Cranberry sauce is something you can eat – it’s low in potassium and phosphorus and can add a little sweetness to your meal.

Side Dishes for a Healthy Renal Diet

Now, the rest of the food is possibly higher in potassium, but you can work around this.  Balance is the key.  Many people want the candied sweet potatoes, but they are high in potassium.  So eat a small amount of those with a larger portion of green beans.  Green beans are low in potassium and make a delicious choice.  You can take it one step further by leaching the sweet potatoes before cooking.  That way they have less potassium before they ever get cooked.

Start out by peeling the sweet potatoes, cut them into thin slices, and soak for about 4 hours in warm water.  Once you have soaked them, you drain the water and add fresh water to cook them.  Making them candied with some brown sugar or honey and margarine doesn’t add potassium.  Watch out for the amount added if you are a diabetic and need to watch your carbohydrate exchanges.  You could also choose candied or glazed carrots – we have a recipe in this newsletter.

To make a sweet potato casserole for diabetics, you can layer the pre-soaked boiled sweet potato rings with apple rings, add a little dot of margarine over the tops and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Then you can scoop out what you like – you can bake it for a little bit if the apple is not soft enough.

Most of the time, with turkey comes stuffing.  Find out if it was made from scratch or from a box.  Unfortunately, most people take the short cut and it can be high in sodium.  The good news is that it’s probably fine for potassium and phosphorus levels.  Check out a box of Stove Top® stuffing at the grocery store next time and see how much sodium it contains.  If you are in charge, see about making it from scratch and eliminating the seasonings that contain salt.  If you want to add flavor, add celery, mushrooms and carrots – they are low potassium.  And low sodium broth or stock to decrease the added salt.  If you eat the stuffing, skip the breads and rolls.  It’s easy to overeat – and almost everything has sodium.

Your Favorite Part of the Meal - Dessert!

Now it is time for dessert.  The sweet potato pie has the same caution as the sweet potato casserole – it’s really one or the other.  So eat a small slice if you must have both.  Pecan pie is high in phosphorus so just a dab of it as well if you want some.  Low potassium and phosphorus pies are apple and cranberry pies.  While you still need to watch your overall calories if you are a diabetic, they are a good choice.  If you are going to someone’s house, bring one along so you can have a dessert.

You probably are going to eat a larger meal than normal on this day – adjust the amount of your insulin and phosphorus binders appropriately to keep this meal from wreaking havoc on your body.  Other things you can do that day to help make sure you don’t overdo it too much are to eat puffed rice or cream of wheat cereal for breakfast – and eating low potassium fruit with it (if you eat fruit with breakfast).  You might even use non-dairy creamer to lower the potassium even further.

What to Do With Leftovers

For the other meal of your day, you can have a light turkey sandwich if you aren’t burned out on it.  Otherwise, think about another bowl of cereal or a small hamburger.  Eat that with low potassium vegetables and you should have a great Thanksgiving Day.  Remember that the day is meant to be spent together with others (not shopping like the retail outlets would like us to believe) so most of all, enjoy your company on that day.

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