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Navigating Thanksgiving: Key Considerations for Kidney Patients and Holiday Hosts

As Thanksgiving approaches, families across the United States are gearing up for a day of gratitude and indulgence. However, for those in the kidney community, the festivities require thoughtful considerations to ensure a healthy celebration.

We’ve compiled a few things to keep in mind if you’re navigating this holiday and kidney disease, especially if you have a loved one with ESRD coming to dinner.

  • Fluid Management: Kidney patients typically have fluid restrictions to prevent complications like fluid overload and swelling. Thanksgiving involves a variety of tempting beverages, including alcoholic drinks and sugary sodas. Ensure that there are suitable low-phosphorus and low-potassium drink options available — and encourage guests to limit their fluid intake and be mindful of the choices offered.

  • Portion Control: Thanksgiving feasts are notorious for their abundance of food. For ESRD patients, portion control is crucial. Large meals can contribute to elevated levels of waste products in the blood, which can be harmful for those with compromised kidney function. Serve smaller portions or consider using smaller plates to encourage mindful eating.

  • Mindful Ingredient Selection: One of the primary concerns for ESRD patients during Thanksgiving revolves around dietary restrictions. They often need to adhere to a strict renal diet, which limits their intake of potassium, phosphorus, and sodium. When planning the Thanksgiving menu, be conscious of the ingredients used in recipes. Opt for fresh, whole foods and choose lean proteins. Avoid processed foods, as they often contain high levels of sodium and phosphorus, which can be detrimental for individuals with kidney disease.

  • Communication is Key: If you are hosting a Thanksgiving gathering and have ESRD patients attending, open communication is essential. Discuss dietary restrictions and preferences with them beforehand and consider asking for their input on the menu.

  • Considerate Seating Arrangements: Depending on the stage of kidney disease, fatigue and discomfort may be prevalent. Provide comfortable seating options and consider arranging a quiet area for guests to rest if needed. Additionally, be mindful of the proximity of restrooms for those who may need to make frequent trips.

While managing kidney disease is challenging, we can all find things to be thankful for this year — from our care teams to supportive families, to crisp fall weather and our NFL team’s latest win. By taking these considerations into account, we can create an enjoyable holiday experience for everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving from the NW Kidney Council team!


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