"Bak kwa", mandarin orange, “nian gao”, steamboat, “poon choi”, new year cookies…endless things to eat during CNY. That’s the reason that your friend tells you you grow “rounder” after CNY.
Gaining a bit of weight is not a serious issue if you are a healthy person. However, for people with health conditions like diabetes and kidney disease, eating more isn’t simply just about gaining weight.
Kidney patients have to juggle a lot of nutrients, namely protein, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and fluid. If the patient has diabetes, he or she has to control carbohydrate intake as well.
5 new year's food that renal patients need to be cautious of
1. Bak Kwa, Lap Cheong (chinese sausage)
Bak kwa is air-dried meat that is preserved with salt, sugar, soy sauce and other spices. Just because it is preserved food, we know the salt content of bak gua is very high. One piece of bak kwa contains at least 800mg of sodium, which equal to ⅓ of our daily need. Too much sodium creates high blood pressure and it can hurt our kidney, especially for CKD patients. Besides, it is also a high protein food, which should be limited by kidney patients.
2. Alcohol drink
Some people think CNY doesn’t feel like CNY without beer. Most of the time in CNY, people over-consume it and treat it as a “main drink” instead of plain water. Alcohol damages kidneys in many ways. The kidney helps in filtering unwanted waste in our body, and alcohol is one of them. Too much alcohol brings extra burden to the kidney and disturbs its job in regulating fluid and electrolytes. Besides, alcohol is also considered fluid, so it creates more harm if the patient is on fluid restriction.
3. Poon Choi
Poon choi is a big pot that is covered by various types of luxurious ingredients, symbolizing abundance and prosperity. The common ingredients include abalone, big prawns, sea cucumber, scallops, fish maw, roasted pork belly, and duck webs. (in case you don’t know, these ingredients are very valuable for Chinese). What is needed to take note about poon choi is its broth. The thick, rich broth is thickened with added oyster sauce, which makes it super salty. When the ingredients are soaked and simmered in the broth, they absorbed the saltiness of the broth. So, be aware that the piece of cabbage might contain higher sodium than you thought.
4. Steamboat/ hotpot
Some people enjoyed poon choi, but some preferred steamboat during CNY. Unlike poon chooi, steamboat soup is much lighter and clearer. So, it is more recommended for CKD patients. However, steamboat has its trap too. Unlike poon chooi which consists of mainly expensive food, steamboat’s ingredients range can go wider, from abalone to fish fillet to fish ball, hotdog, crab roll and the list go on. You are sure smart enough to find out poon chooi consist of mainly “real food”, and steamboats can have various kinds of processed food. Man-made food is a significant source of sodium and phosphorus, the 2 key nutrients that have to take noted by renal patients. The main ingredient of the soup base matters too, try to use ingredients like Chinese cabbage, pumpkin, animal bone instead of chicken bouillon.
5. Dipping sauces
Another hidden boom for CKD patients. Chinese likes to eat with a side plate of sauce, especially soy sauce. While eating steamboat and poon choi, the sauces can go more diverse like Taiwanese barbeque sauce, oyster sauce, sesame sauce, fermented beancurd sauce, and a lot of mix and match. These sauces can add up to a lot more additional sodium intake if you dip the sauce in every bite.
How should a kidney patient eat?
1. Limited preserved and processed food, focus on fresh food
Limiting food like processed and preserved meat can reduce at least half of the total salt intake. If you really can’t resist bak kwa, give yourself allowance by eating a quarter piece(it still depends on the patient’s condition!), and eat lighter on other meals.
2. Control the protein intake
Chinese will prepare a lot of big dishes during CNY, which symbolised prosperity. Most of these dishes are meat and protein-based. For people with CKD, it is important to control their protein intake. Take the portion you need and put it on your plate instead of eating while taking from the shared dish.
3. DIY own less sodium dipping sauce
Use natural ingredients like garlic, onion, lemon juice, vinegar, chilli, ginger and sugar to enhance the taste of dishes.
4. Check the menu beforehand if you are eating out
Restaurant food is usually high in salt. Make sure to check the menu first, and choose some kidney-friendly dishes. If you are not sure about it, share the menu with your dietitian to have a look first.
5. Replace alcoholic beverages with water
Do not let momentary happiness fails your long-term efforts. As mentioned, alcohol is the nemesis of the kidney. Replace the beer with other non-alcohol drinks, and the best choice is always plain water.
6. Fruit and vegetables cannot be ignored
Fruits and vegetables are important to maintain a healthy diet. However, some kidney patients are avoiding these plant food as they heard they should control potassium intake, and plant-based are high in potassium. However, this is not true. Not to mention fruit and veggies are vital for general health, these “alkaline food” are going to benefit kidneys. If you have a high blood potassium level, choose a low-potassium group like cabbage, lettuce, eggplant, okra, apple, grapes, pineapple, and guava. You can also reduce potassium content by boiling the veggies in hot water or cut them into small pieces and soak into the water.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Chinese New Year!
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