For those with chronic kidney disease, a large family meal like Thanksgiving dinner may seem daunting. Gone are the days you can simply fill your plate with anything and everything on the menu.
While you do have to watch what you eat on Thanksgiving, it’s definitely possible to enjoy the meal and the holiday with your loved ones. This guide will help you make the best selections for your plate on Thanksgiving – and possibly other holiday meals too!
Thanksgiving Main Course
Most families serve the traditional turkey on Thanksgiving Day. You are in luck, as turkey is a healthy meat option for CKD patients! Before the meal, ask whoever is preparing the turkey to roast it. Deep-frying, brined and other preparation options aren’t as renal diet friendly.
When you make your plate on Thanksgiving, be sure to peel the skin from the turkey. Also, if you are on a low-protein diet, limit the amount of turkey you eat to 3-4 ounces.
You can even enjoy it with a little gravy (be sure to limit this, to stay under your fat consumption for the meal) to enhance the flavor, as long as it is homemade rather than packaged. To make a better gravy that fits in your CKD dietary restrictions, use pan drippings and thicken the sauce with cornstarch. This keeps your sodium down versus gravy made from a pack.
Thanksgiving Side Dishes
You must exercise caution when choosing your side dishes at Thanksgiving dinner. Many fruits and vegetables that are commonly served may be too high in potassium for you, depending on your CKD dietary restrictions.
It may be best to bring your own side dishes to the meal, if you are afraid you won’t find much that meets your current renal diet. You can also have a bite or two of the not-so-friendly foods while eating more of the better choices.
Green beans are a great choice, and one that you will probably find in your Thanksgiving Day spread. Since they are low in potassium, they can offset any of the smaller portions of the restricted foods you choose to eat.
Boiled cabbage is another excellent choice for CKD suffers. It is also low in potassium, and it’s also full of many helpful nutrients to keep your body healthy.
Cranberry sauce, a popular side for Thanksgiving, is also good for you to eat during the meal, even if you suffer from chronic kidney disease.
A typical ¼ cup serving of cranberry sauce has 35 mg sodium, 17mg potassium, and 6mg phosphorus.
That shouldn’t be too bad for most CKD sufferers! Plus, these tangy berries help prevent infection in the GI tract and bladder by protecting the lining of these organs from harmful bacteria.
Sweet potatoes are a favorite for many Thanksgiving guests. If you leach the potatoes before you cook them, you will lower their potassium content to make them more renal diet friendly.
Leaching simply involves peeling and dicing the sweet potatoes and soaking them in a pot of lukewarm water for 4 hours. Drain the potatoes after soaking and replace with fresh water for cooking.
Garlic cauliflower is yet another healthy Thanksgiving side dish for those with CKD. Cauliflower is a great alternative to traditional mashed potatoes.
Roast or steam the vegetable, mash it, and add in some garlic for flavor. Along with being low in potassium and sodium, garlic can help reduce inflammation.
This may be the place of the meal where you have to use the most caution when choosing what to eat. Those with chronic kidney disease need to limit their sugar intake, especially if you battle diabetes along with your CKD.
Apple pie is usually a safe choice for a CKD diet, especially if prepared naturally and without a lot of added sugar.
Cranberry Pie is another good choice, for the health benefits of cranberries mentioned above about the cranberry sauce.
Fresh fruit is always the best selection for a dessert, but be sure to avoid those high in potassium. Stick with apples, berries, pineapple, cherries, peaches, and pears.
You can always bring along your own dessert to ensure you have a sweet treat that won’t risk harm to your dietary restrictions.
This guide should help you decide what to eat – and what to avoid – when you are attending a Thanksgiving Day meal. Try not to focus too much on the food. Make mindful choices and enjoy the company and activities of the day more than the meal!
Also published on Medium.