Are you thinking of making one of your New Year’s resolutions to focus on improving your kidney health? It can feel so scary and overwhelming being diagnosed with CKD and then hearing all of the foods that you’re no longer “allowed” to eat. This can add even more to your fear and overwhelm. The New Year can be a great time to set some resolutions for improving your kidney health, but it’s also a time where we see a lot of ads for fad diets.
Although, the goal of hopping on one of these diets is to improve your health, they often don’t support your kidneys nor are they sustainable long-term. In this post, I’m going to share with you 5 New Year’s Resolutions you can focus on to support your kidney health – without having to follow a strict diet or give up all the foods you love!
Even though there are things we need to be more mindful of with kidney disease, like potassium, sodium and phosphorus, for example. That doesn’t mean that one of our new year’s resolutions should be to cut out all the foods we love. I don’t take this approach with my clients, because it often leads to more food preoccupation, more cravings and overeating or binge eating on the foods we are restricting.
Have you ever sworn off a certain food or group of foods and found yourself thinking about it constantly? Then eating it all in one sitting only to start over again the next day? This can lead to a vicious cycle of restricting and binge eating that can actually be worse for our kidney health because it can lead to overeating or binge eating on foods high in potassium, sodium and phosphorus.
Instead of cutting out all of your favorite foods, I suggest first understanding what’s going on in your body so you can better understand how to nourish your kidneys properly. I suggest starting with just paying attention to your labs. For example, oftentimes those with CKD are told to cut out foods high in potassium upon diagnosis. However, not everyone needs a potassium restriction. Which brings us to our next resolution – working with a kidney dietitian.
Working with a kidney dietitian helps relieve stress and provides more confidence around eating because we first understand what is going on in your body by (you guessed it!) looking at your labs. Once we have a better understanding of this, we then create a game plan around which foods we need to be more aware of. For example, if your phosphorus is elevated, we would want to be more mindful of checking food labels to see if it contains any ingredients with “PHOS” in the name. This means it likely has phosphorus additives in it, which are 100% absorbed in the body and can contribute to elevated phosphorus levels.
A kidney dietitian can also assist in everyday habits like grocery shopping, cooking and meal planning so that you know exactly what to do to nourish your kidneys properly while still confidently enjoying food!
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to better understand what nutrients to be mindful of for your CKD and confidently eat for your kidney health. You can apply to join my CKD with Confidence Coaching Program and I can support you in creating and maintaining a kidney friendly diet.
I hear this story all the time… You’re newly diagnosed with CKD and your healthcare team gives you minimal advice upon diagnosis. They say “it’ll be fine, just drink more water”. So you go home and start googling what to eat/what not to eat for CKD. You find a bunch of conflicting information online and start cutting out all of your favorite foods… chocolate, avocados, beans, whole grain bread, mango and more. You feel alone, frustrated, overwhelmed and confused.
If this is you, what you need right now most is support. You need a healthcare team to be in your corner and have your back.
You have three ways to go about finding a supportive doctor.
Plant based foods provide beneficial nutrients and vitamins/minerals that support kidney health. For example, a diet higher in plant-based foods provides a higher intake of fiber and micronutrients like magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin C, etc. Following a more plant based diet can also help to manage and improve kidney health overall.
Increasing fiber in your diet can be beneficial for blood sugar management and reducing hypertension, which are both factors associated with CKD. A higher intake of micronutrients is beneficial for reducing inflammation, oxidative stress (which causes damage to our cells and tissues), and endothelial dysfunction.
When setting this as one of your New Year’s resolutions, I suggest starting by focusing on adding more fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds to your meals and snacks. You can also check out my Ultimate Grocery Guide for CKD, for more plant-based options that are kidney friendly.
Getting in regular movement has both physical and mental benefits for those with CKD. Daily movement can help manage stress levels, improve blood pressure and heart rate, balance blood sugars and reduce insulin resistance which are key when it comes to kidney health.
Types of movement include a mix of coordination and flexibility exercises like yoga, aerobic and resistance exercises like walking and strength training.
I suggest starting where you’re at and creating SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely) when making this one of your New Year’s resolutions. For example, if you are sedentary, I recommend starting with a small goal like getting 10 minutes of walking in 3 days per week. Then, increasing the time spent and days per week as you feel comfortable.
Being diagnosed with kidney disease can be scary and overwhelming. You may have no idea where to start when it comes to supporting your kidney health. It’s important to make sure that you have a supportive healthcare team including a doctor and a dietitian to help you understand your labs and assist with both medication recommendations as well as support for your diet and lifestyle. You can also start doing things on your own like adding more plant-based foods and incorporating daily movement to support your kidney health. Living with CKD doesn’t have to be debilitating and starting with small steps like these can help you live and eat confidently!