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Eating right on holiday

Imagine you are sitting on a bench overlooking the peaceful sea when your stomach growls, signalling it’s time to eat. What’s your next move? Knowing what to eat when we leave our daily routines can be challenging. Here, our NephroCare team gives straightforward advice on eating right and feeling good on holiday.

No matter your destination – the sea, the mountains, the big city – food is always part of your holiday. This, of course, is true for any traveller, but it is an especially important topic for people with kidney disease. Where you are going and staying – hotel with a restaurant abroad, a self-catering holiday flat in your home country – will likely influence your food choices. A general piece of advice: planning ahead is the best way to ensure you will find kidney-friendly food from day one. Staying in a self-catering flat.

If you are staying in a self-catering flat or house, you are in luck: continuing your regular healthy eating habits should be fairly easy. Locate the nearest supermarket in advance by searching online, or inquire with your host upon arrival. Here you should find a range of suitable foods that you can prepare in kidney-friendly ways at home. Car travellers can easily take some of their favourite healthy choices with them. Transport perishable items in a cooler, which you can use for picnics during your stay.

So you booked a hotel

The best part about staying in a hotel is that you have nothing to take care of. No bed to make, no flat to clean, and no meals to prepare. However, some hotel restaurant fare is not suitable for people with renal failure. The solution: know the 5 good food routines and let them guide you to kidney-healthy choices. Speak to the hotel before departure and inquire about their catering offer.

Find out how they accommodate people with special dietary needs and what you need to do to ensure yours are met.  While some hotels might know what kinds of food are kidney-friendly, you should have an answer ready in case they ask what you can eat. Here are some ideas.

  • At the buffet, look for areas with fruit, vegetables and salads. Keep your eye out for low-potassium choices and don’t forget to watch the serving size.
  • Eat healthy protein each time you tuck in to a meal. Steamed or grilled fish, and grilled chicken are excellent choices, especially if prepared with little or no salt.
  • Bring some kidney-friendly snacks along for when hunger strikes. That way you’ll be less tempted to eat something that not good for your body.

Travelling abroad

How exciting! A trip out of the country is not only a chance to explore new territory, it’s also the chance to explore new tastes. Start by gathering a little information about your destination’s cuisine before your departure. What are some local specialties? Are they kidney-friendly or can they be prepared in a kidney-friendly way? Is there anything you should avoid eating? Talk things through with your dietician and write a list of what you should and should not eat.

While abroad, you may also face a language barrier. If you have a smartphone and an international data plan, download a travel dictionary app before departure to help you decipher foreign words at the supermarket and restaurants. Otherwise, purchase a pocket travel dictionary and phrasebook to refer to when necessary. When in doubt, stick with foods you know.

One final note and you can start planning your holiday: wherever you stay, whatever you eat, always watch your liquid intake you, especially in the heat of summer. If you are uncertain, review the topic with your doctor or dietician before your departure.

Expert advice: holiday meals

Our NephroCare team want you to have a wonderful, relaxing holiday. And you can by following these three tips for eating on holiday.

Tip 1: Plan with an expert
Ask your dietician for tips on how to plan meals when you are away from home. Tell him or her where you are travelling to and what you expect.

Tip 2: Be mindful
It’s normal to be both overwhelmed and excited when in a new place. However, remember to think about what you eat, and keep your meals balanced and healthy. You don’t want to miss out on an otherwise fun holiday.

Tip 3: Stick to your diet
Diabetics and those on special kidney-specific diets know it’s important to watch their carbohydrate intake – and a holiday is no exception. Continue avoiding salty foods such as pretzels, crackers and crisps, and limit sweets and baked goods, such as candy, biscuits, cakes and juices or sweetened beverages. Also remember to regularly check your blood sugar.