Thanksgiving at my house is not a huge event. There are three of us. It is however a lot of work for me. I will be working on changing that for next year. As I do every day of my life now, I will also be working on eating better next Thanksgiving. Small changes to the menu can make a big impact on health and the stress of the day.
As each holiday season rolls around, I am likely to forget what I did the year before. Which recipes worked and which need to be cut out or changed. So I’ve begun writing about past Thanksgivings on my gardening blog, Hydrangeas Blue.
For those of us who have chronic kidney disease (CKD and PKD) lots of food on the Thanksgiving table is really bad for us to eat. It’s not the calories we worry about as much as the salt which comes with eating the stuffing and gravy. The potassium levels in the mashed potatoes and squash could be a problem as well.
A lot of the traditional food served for this holiday has too much bad stuff for the general population. Starch, gluten, and high salt content is good for no one. BUT… it’s the one big day of the year when food takes center stage. And I for one, love to eat Thanksgiving Dinner!
While most normal people worry about getting fat, WE worry more about how our kidneys will handle eating this meal.
To counter the effects of those foods we really shouldn’t eat, we have to have a plan.
Simply…. eat what you want, but eat a lot less than a regular serving. Usually there is an abundance of choices. If you are lucky enough to be seated with big family around the table, chances are that there will be lots of vegetable dishes prepared. Hopefully they will be simple cooked veggies.
Green bean casserole is something to skip completely! Between the canned green beans (salt) and the canned soup used (more salt) and those french fried onion rings… (loads more salt)… this is a dish that can do a number on US. Your kidneys will not thank you for eating green bean casserole.
Please pass the broccoli, carrots, green beans (sans onion rings and soup) and any other vegetable dish without sauce and extras. Boring you say? Learn to love your vegetables as they are. If you don’t want to suffer on Thanksgiving, then make a plan to learn to love plain vegetables (with butter, no salt) soon.
Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without stuffing and gravy to eat with that turkey. And I ate it. But I ate it in small amounts. I had mashed potatoes too. Small servings of these no-no’s mixed with a plate of veggies, should fill you up nicely without piling on the guilt. Skip the rolls. You can do it!
Cranberry sauce is actually not a bad thing to eat. I made my own cranberry sauce the last 2 years from a bag of whole cranberries. Since I am the only one who eats cranberry sauce, I decided to simply open a can next year.
One bit of advice that will keep you feeling well is to not stuff yourself. Try to fill up by eating good things, with a little of the not-so-good on the side. Exercise usually makes me feel better. Take a walk BEFORE beginning to cook, like at 6:00AM. It will help remind you that you are trying to be “good”.
Planning for Next Year’s Thanksgiving Dinner
The biggest help to those of US who must keep our kidneys happy is to make our own food and NOT add salt. Store bought pre-packaged, pre-made food contains too much salt.
For next year I may try to make some Gluten Free Stuffing. My son likes Stove Top, but it’s full of salt. I can control what goes into it if I make my own stuffing. The key here is to find good gluten-free bread and use low sodium bullion, or stock.
Create gluten-free gravy! I always use a jar or package of gravy mix. I’ve never been a gravy maker. It takes time to make real gravy and my time has to be spent doing everything else. This is where having help in the kitchen would pay off big time.
Cook some vegetables the day before. All we had was corn this year because I ran out of time to do anything more. My son wanted corn. I would have chosen to fill my plate with other veggies, like squash and green beans, if only I’d had time to cook them!
In closing, this page is simply a reminder to do your best at holiday time. When we are armed with information we can make good choices. It doesn’t mean we are perfect, but we can try our best, with a day off here and there to enjoy life. Thanksgiving Day is such a day. Worry creates stress, so don’t worry if you fall off the nutrition wagon. Make up for it by eating super good afterwards. Have a kale shake or healthy tortilla wrap the next day instead of a leftover turkey and stuffing sandwich.
Then, pat yourself on the back and move forward.