5…4…3…2…1….Happy New Years!!!! Nutrition resolutions remain at the top of lists this year. As a dietitian I would prefer that you keep nutrition at the top of your to-do lists everyday, but even I stray a bit, if I’m being honest with myself. With the New Year upon us, there’s fresh opportunity to make resolutions for better health. You may have taken a break from your kidney diet or other healthy choices throughout the holiday season. But, the reality is: our kidneys do not take a vacation. It’s a great time to get back on track. To feel your best this year, while staying healthy, resolve to make positive changes in your diet: Diet and healthy lifestyle habits are powerful weapons in the fight against devastating diseases, while doing the most we can for our kidneys. Here are 10 important things to focus on to keep you feeling your best and feeding your body what it needs!
1. Choose healthy carbs. Target unrefined carbs, such as whole grains, unsweetened fruits, and vegetables, and limit refined carbs, such as refined grains and flours. “It’s pretty clear that refined carbohydrates add empty calories, which contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and high blood pressure. Which source of carbohydrates we choose can make a tremendous impact! Instead of breads, bagels and cookies made with white flour and sugar, fill your plate with nutrient-rich whole grains such as whole wheat and quinoa; unsweetened fruits, like berries and lots of multi-colored vegetables, such as green leafy vegetables and broccoli. Make sure to choose according to your potassium levels.
2. Put legumes on the menu every week. Enjoy legumes, such as beans, peas and lentils, as a replacement for meat at least twice a week. Legumes are a near “perfect food;” a one-half cup serving provides at least 20% DV (Percent Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories per day) for fiber, folate and manganese; 10% DV for protein, potassium, iron, magnesium and copper; and 6-8% DV for selenium and zinc. These nutritious, yet economical gems, have been linked to lower blood cholesterol levels and body weight, and reduced risk of heart disease, and high blood pressure. Now, I know your initial thought is these items are high in potassium and phosphorus and you are right. In reality, animal protein is also high in phosphorus. Substituting legumes for animal protein should be an equal trade-off. As far as potassium goes, choose lower potassium veggies to complement the legumes on these days. Don’t forget your binders and remember that legumes offer a great protein alternative that is easier on our kidneys.
3. Eat smaller portions. If there’s one lesson to be learned, it’s simply to eat less food. Our portions—in restaurants, supermarkets, and at home—have increased dramatically over the past few decades, directly feeding into the obesity epidemic and its health fallout. Learning to eat smaller portions will allow you to eat a wider variety of foods without feeling deprived. Really savor your food when you eat. Pay attention to it…don’t be distracted. In order to get in touch with portion sizes, measure out one-half cup of pasta, rice or cooked grains and consider that a three-ounce serving of meat or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards.
4. Eat fish at least twice a week in place of red meat. Dietary patterns that include more fish are linked with lower rates of diseases, including heart disease, and diabetes, while those high in red meat, such as beef, pork and lamb, and especially processed meats like ham, hot dogs and bacon—are linked with higher rates of these diseases. Eat cold-water, fatty fish like salmon, halibut, tuna or sardines at least twice a week. They offer high sources of Omega 3’s and supply numerous health benefits, especially to the kidney patient.
5. Include a fruit or vegetable every time you eat. This rule even applies to breakfast and snacks. This increases the likelihood that you’ll get the fruits and vegetables you need during the day. It also helps provide bulk and nutrients to help keep you feeling full and well fueled. For extra credit, double up on those vegetables at lunch and dinner—have a soup or salad and a serving of fresh or cooked vegetables.
6. Eat a healthy food, before you indulge. Before you’re tempted by a treat, whether it’s cookies or chips, turn to something healthy, such as nuts, veggies or fruit. Eating something healthful before you indulge in a treat may fill you up and satisfy you, and help you meet your quota for fruit and veggies or get the healthy fats from nuts and it may actually help you eat less of the treat you’re craving. If you choose nuts, monitor portions, while taking your binder, as directed by your physician.
7. Drink as much water as your fluid restriction allows. Not only will you hydrate your body with life-giving fluids needed for maintaining your body functions, you’ll also stay away from sugary beverages, including sodas and sports drinks, which have been linked with obesity and hypertension. Keep a water bottle handy and track how much you consume.
8. Add nuts and seeds to your daily diet plan. Munch on a handful (about 1 ½ ounces) of nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pecans or peanuts, or add seeds (about two tablespoons), such as flaxseed, Chia, hemp, sesame or sunflower seeds to your diet every day. Nuts and seeds provide heart healthy fats, fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals. As an added bonus some, such as walnuts, ground flaxseed, Chia and hemp, are rich in omega-3s, linked with heart health benefits. Watch your potassium and phosphorus levels. Nuts and seeds can be successfully added to your kidney diets, as long as you monitor your portion sizes.
9. Meet your fiber goal every day. Fiber is rich with health opportunity; it’s been linked with lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Yet only five percent of Americans meet their fiber goal: 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams for men. Think fiber everyday by choosing whole grains breads, cereals and pasta, as well as fruit, veggies, and tofu.
10. Stop eating at least 2 hours before going to bed. Food provides calories and calories provide energy. You can’t expect to get a good night’s rest if you’ve just loaded your body up with energy. Give your body time to digest the food before bed. You’ll be amazed at how much better you sleep. And when you are well rested, you’re much better able to keep your exercise and nutrition resolutions.
My very best to and yours this year!!
Information or materials posted on this blog are intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment. Any information posted on this blog is not a substitute for patient specific medical information or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare team or dietitian for a more complete dietary plan and recommendations.