Holiday Habits for a Healthy Kidney

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Holiday Habits for a Healthy Kidney

The holidays can have a heavy toll on your kidneys. With alcohol, desserts, and heavy meals right around the corner and waiting to be consumed, it’s easy for you to give in to temptation. 

It’s even more difficult, especially if you’re someone who’s looking to manage your health. In the worst-case scenario, there is an increased risk of obesity and diabetes due to a high intake of calories and sugar due to the number of celebrations and unhealthy food available.

To avoid such, it’s only vital for you to keep your holiday habits intact to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So, to push you on this journey, here is a guide on how to take care of your kidney during the holidays.

Prevent Swollen Feet During Travels

The holidays are the best time to go traveling – which means sitting in a cramped car or airplane seat for long periods. Although it’s part of the experience, it’s the most common way to get swollen feet. When you’re sitting, the muscles that help drain fluid out of your legs are inactive, causing uncomfortable swelling. 

To avoid the swelling, it’s best to get up several times and walk around to get your blood flowing again. If you’re traveling by car, you could walk around a rest stop for a few minutes. If you can’t walk around, you could exercise your feet by spreading or pointing your toes.

Most of the time, swelling isn’t a severe illness; however, it may become a sign for one. Swelling along with breathing difficulties or chest pain may be edema. Moreover, it can be a symptom of a chronic kidney disease, and it may be best to seek medical care.

With the help of your doctor, you can manage edema with different treatment options. Your first option is over the counter diuretics, also known as water pills. These pills help your kidneys remove excess fluid. Dialysis is another option to reduce the swelling; however, this treatment is mainly reserved for those with advanced kidney diseases.

Lessen Your Processed Food Intake

The main star of the holidays is the holiday ham at the center of the table, and even more processed food up until the New Year. Although these foods may come from healthy sources, they’re often processed with many chemicals and preservatives that cause your kidneys to function in overdrive. 

In a 2022 National Kidney Foundation study, there was a 24% higher risk of developing kidney disease for those who consumed more processed food than those who ate less processed food. The study associated an additional serving with a 5% higher risk. Moreover, out of all the food, sugar-sweetened beverages cause the most risk.

Although it’s difficult to completely cut out processed food from your diet, eating less and changing your habits now still makes a big difference than leaving it as is. You could even try kidney-friendly alternatives to your dishes. An example of these are low-fat creams or low-calorie sweeteners. Food fuels the body and can act as medicine with the proper diet. 

Stay Active

Another habit to add is always to stay active. According to the National Kidney Foundation, exercise lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and maintains a healthy body weight. Moreover, these advantages build up over time if you exercise regularly.

Although the holidays can be challenging since the weather makes it hard to go out, you could also do home exercises. Moreover, you don’t need much equipment as you can try beginner exercises such as single-leg stands and air squats. 

If you want, you can even try jumping jacks or dancing. Upbeat music and moving to the rhythm can burn calories, and it can even be an enjoyable exercise that turns your home into a dance floor.

Additionally, it’s best to remember to do a dynamic warm-up before your exercise. You should spend five to ten minutes slowly stretching your muscles for your main exercises. Doing so prevents strain on your body and muscles during the main exercises. You could also make an effort to alternate your exercises day by day. Here, you could switch between easy to rigorous routines to enhance your routine.

Don’t Forget Your Water

During the holidays, water should be your best friend as it helps your kidneys filter out all the toxins from the food and alcohol you consume. Your food will contain plenty of sodium, and you’d surely be going heavy on alcohol- so what better way to fight against it than with water. 

More specifically, water dilutes all the unrecognized substances. Keep yourself hydrated and try to turn down too much sodium intake and binge drinking during the holidays.

Talk With Your Dietitian or Doctor

Lastly, contacting your dietitian or doctor for a professional grasp on your holiday diet is best. With their help, you get an objective outlook on the best way to approach these habits more effortlessly. Likewise, your dietitian may even help you create kidney-healthy recipes for your specific dietary needs.

Final Thoughts

Following a kidney-friendly diet over the holidays may be challenging, but it’s never impossible. Moreover, doing so allows you to invest in yourself in the long run and keeps you healthy during and after the holiday season.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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