MOST of us look to eating a bit too much over Christmas, knowing that if we put on a few pounds we will probably be able to shed them in the New Year.
But for people living with kidney failure, festive foods can present a much more serious hazard to their health. To help avoid this, renal dietitians at Basildon and Orsett hospitals have been advising patients having dialysis how they can enjoy Christmas safely.
Divya Vekaria, Rachel Davies, Amy Ives and Joanne Munday from the renal dietitians team put on displays to show which foods to eat with caution, and suggested substitutes, with Rachel dressing up as a Christmas pudding to add a touch of humour to the important messages.
She explains: “Raised levels of potassium and phosphate can lead to dangerous
more health complications for renal patients because their kidneys are unable to filter excess amounts from the blood.
“The festive season can be a particularly risky time, as many favourite foods contain a lot of potassium, but people don’t always experience symptoms when their levels are too high. We always aim to take a positive approach to all advice by focusing more on low potassium alternatives to help them enjoy the festive period whilst staying safe”
Foods with high levels of potassium include anything containing dried fruit, such as Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies. Chocolate, wine, beer, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, potatoes and nuts are also on the list.
Rachel added: “Some low potassium alternatives include apple pies, trifle, sponge cakes, Turkish delight, par-boiled then roasted potatoes and parsnips and spirits instead of wine or beer. All of our patients are still able to enjoy a normal roast turkey dinner on Christmas Day.”
Des Cunningham, 66, has been having dialysis at Basildon Hospital three times a week for nearly two years. He said: “The dietitians here are very good. I follow their advice because what they say makes sense and they are here to help us.”