The holidays are a time of celebration and family togetherness. For some, the holidays are also a time of great stress. Many people find the holidays stressful for plenty of reasons, but your particular stress might stem from not knowing how to survive the holidays while living with chronic kidney disease. You are certainly not alone in this.
First, slow down and take a breath. Your holidays do not need to be any more stressful than usual just because of chronic kidney disease. There are a few things you can do to help navigate the holiday gatherings while maintaining your healthy and kidney-friendly lifestyle.
Here are a few tips for surviving the holidays with chronic kidney disease:
Don’t Skip Meals
A lot of people like to skip breakfast or lunch (or both) when they know they have a big meal coming later. While it is tempting to keep your belly empty in preparation for filling it to the brim, you really should stick to eating your regular, healthy meals. Skipping breakfast especially can mess with your blood sugar, making you feel hungrier than you really are. Not only that but if you are very hungry you might be less likely to make good decisions come meal time.
Holiday meals are often thought of as a free for all where you stuff yourself senseless. With your kidney-friendly diet, however, you need to make smarter choices.
Here are a few ideas to help you with portion control at a holiday buffet:
Use a smaller plate. You are more likely to choose wisely and eat less overall if you are loading it all onto a smaller serving tray.
Look, then choose. Before you start the buffet line, go ahead and look over all the choices. Choose your favorites that you have to have, plus the healthier options, and then skip the rest. Knowing what is available ahead of time can help you make these choices.
Wait it out. Before going back for another round, wait for at least ten minutes. You might find that you are fuller than you thought.
Take Your Meds
If you are on phosphate binders or other medications, make sure that you take them accordingly. Set reminders on your watch or phone if you need to, or enlist the help of a family member if you are especially forgetful.
Look through the offerings and try to make the healthiest decisions. Your best bets are to skip casseroles and fried foods whenever possible. If you just have to have some of your Aunt’s famous green bean casserole, go ahead and splurge, but just have a small amount. You can also trim some fat and sodium by not eating the skin on the turkey or trimming the excess fat on roast beef.
Make Your Own
If you aren’t hosting, you can still bring a dish or even a few, to help fill out the table and ensure there are some kidney friendly options for you. You can make just about any of your favorite dishes kidney safe.
Have A Glass and Relax
If you’re still feeling stressed out with all this advice, try sipping on a nice glass of wine. It is the holidays, after all.
Use this information to help navigate the stresses of the holidays. Surviving the holidays with chronic kidney disease isn’t too different from surviving without it, the main difference is that you have a doctor or nutritionist to give you ideas about how to make the best choices. So go ahead and enjoy your holiday, hopefully with a little less stress.
Also published on Medium.