Six Do’s and Don’ts for KEEPing Healthy During the Holidays
‘Tis the season for social gatherings and it may seem difficult to make healthy choices this time of year. No matter the occasion, tempting comfort foods abound throughout the holidays, but with careful planning, portion control, recipe swaps and exercise, holiday meals don’t need to translate into a whopping waistline. Don’t wait until the New Year to shed a few pounds or start exercising. Instead, maintain healthy habits year-round and throughout the holiday season with the National Kidney Foundation’s 6 do’s and don’ts for KEEPing healthy during the holidays.
Before starting any new diet or exercise program, check with your healthcare provider.
- Don’t gorge yourself. Buffets may be bursting with sweets and fried foods, but to prevent your belly from ballooning, portion control is key!
Do enjoy your favorite comfort foods in moderation. Use measuring cups to monitor serving sizes and avoid second helpings. Rather than eating an entire portion of dessert on your own, split it with a friend. Enjoy small tastes, instead of a whopping spoonful, of a few favorite dishes and fill a smaller plate to eat less overall. Keep a food journal, read nutrition labels and write down everything you eat to stay on track with a healthy diet. Weigh yourself and measure your blood pressure daily to keep calorie and salt intake in check. If you have a computer or smart phone, use a free program or mobile app to help you to find the sodium content in restaurant foods. You can also use these online apps to track your daily calories and sodium intake.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of exercise.
Do incorporate physical activity into your regular routine. When holiday shopping, park further from the store. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. Go for a walk with your family or dance together to your favorite holiday tunes before sitting down for a meal.
- Don’t miss out on the festivities because you’ll be too tempted by the unhealthy choices!
Do plan ahead and offer to bring healthy additions. Because you’re the chef, you’ll know exactly which ingredients the dishes contain. Need some kidney-friendly recipe ideas? Visit the Kidney Kitchen for inspiration. If you’re a kidney patient talk with your registered dietitian before the holidays. A consult or phone call can be very helpful in planning ahead for the challenges that sometimes accompany holiday eating.
- Don’t ignore the sugar in holiday drinks. Cider, eggnog and other alcoholic beverages are typically high in sugar and calories. If you have diabetes, it’s especially important to control blood sugar levels. Pay attention to the sugar you’re consuming from unexpected sources.
Do drink water. Staying hydrated is important, even as it gets colder outside. People often confuse hunger and thirst signals, so drink plenty of water and you’ll be more likely to eat when you’re actually hungry. Please note that if your dietary needs involve a fluid restriction, it’s important to follow it.
- Don’t eat quickly.
Do savor the bites and the moment. Slow down! It’s not every day that you’re able to celebrate with friends, family and loved ones near and far. Enjoy the conversation and take your time when eating.
- Don’t forget to take care of your body --physical and mental health included.
Do give thanks to your health by going for an annual checkup. At times, the holidays can be stressful. Avoid sweating the small stuff. If you’re at risk for kidney disease, check your kidney function once a year with two simple tests. Discuss these with your doctor or healthcare provider.
- A urine test for abnormal levels of protein in the urine, a sign of kidney damage.
- A blood test for creatinine, a muscle byproduct. The result of this test, along with your age, gender, and body size is used to calculate your GFR, an important indicator of kidney function.
Those with kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of these conditions are eligible to attend a free KEEP, kidney health screening once a year. To find a KEEP screening near you, check out the calendar of upcoming events.