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Christmas is on its way and with it comes the usual indulgence in festive food and drink. People with kidney disease sometimes need to follow certain dietary and fluid restrictions and it is important to take these into account over Christmas.

With the help of the fantastic Fiona Williamson, a Kidney Research UK Fellow and clinical lead renal dietician at the Royal Derby Hospital, we have put together a list of food, drink and exercise tips to help you enjoy the festivities safely.

Helping you enjoy food with kidney disease

Can I have Christmas pudding, Christmas cake or mince pies?

Yes. If you tend to have a high potassium level, try to have one or the other in a day, so either a small portion of Christmas pudding, a small piece of Christmas cake, or one or two small mince pies. Try not to have more than two - three portions of these over the Christmas period.

Can I have Brussels sprouts?

Yes. Boil them in plenty of water and try not to have more than five.

Can I have chocolate?

Yes. Try and keep it to just a couple of chocolates from a box in one day.

Can I drink alcohol?

Yes, alcohol in moderation is ok. If you are taking medication and are unsure whether you can drink alcohol, always check with your doctor or pharmacist. Follow the guidelines for sensible drinking, which is to try to limit your alcohol intake to no more than 14 units per week. This is equivalent to: six pints of beer; five medium glasses of wine or 14 single measures of spirit.

It is also sensible to avoid binge drinking and try to have at least one alcohol-free day in the week.

If you have to follow a low potassium diet or a fluid restriction, take this into account when drinking alcohol and any other drinks.

Seven top tips for keeping healthy:

  1. Don’t buy too many extra goodies – especially chocolates, biscuits, cakes or savoury snacks. Don’t be tempted by the special offers and buy more than you need as you will still be eating them in the spring;
  2. It is possible to have your usual Christmas dinner, even if you have to be careful with your diet;
  3. Stick to a regular meal pattern instead of constantly grazing all day as it is harder to regulate how much you are eating;
  4. Eat some healthier foods in-between Christmas and New Year, for example have vegetables with meals, have fruit as snacks or desserts;
  5. Get some exercise, especially if you are off work. Go out for a walk on Boxing Day or at New Year if the weather is nice. Leisure centres are often quieter over Christmas too, so why not enjoy a gentle swim or a gym session;
  6. If you have lots of food left over after New Year, such as unopened boxes of chocolates or biscuits, take them into work to share, or donate them to a raffle or club;
  7. Don’t be tempted to buy all the foods which claim to be ‘healthier choices’ – often if they are lower in fat they can be higher in sugar and they are often high in salt.

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