Kidney Diet Tips

5 SMARTT Ways to Enjoy the Holidays while Managing Diabetes and Kidney Disease

It’s that time of year again: the weather’s cooler, the leaves are changing colors and the holidays are approaching. You may receive invitations for small family gatherings, church events or parties with friends. You know there will be an abundance of food and desserts at the parties, but maybe you’re not sure how to best manage your diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD). Managing these conditions during the holidays can be stressful and cause anxiety. Stay on top of your diabetes and CKD management with these five SMARTT goals.

S: Shop and Save

By knowing how to shop smarter, you can save money during the holidays and possibly save dessert calories as well. Prepare your grocery list ahead of time with healthy snack choices and meal ideas. To save money, read your local grocery ads to help you design a healthy and affordable shopping list. For example, instead of making a frozen pie for dessert, choose to make fruit kabobs with low-potassium fruits on sale, and use reduced fat whipped dessert topping as a low-calorie dip. Try this recipe for Dessert Cups with Fresh Fruit from Shop only for what is on your list and shop the perimeter of the grocery store to find the healthiest food options.

You can also check out our “5 Tips for Sticking to a Grocery Budget” post for more ideas on how to save at the grocery store.

M: Manage Your Meals

During the busy holiday season, it can help to write out a month’s worth of meals and snacks using your favorite foods. If you are new to menu writing, choose to do just one week instead, then write your grocery list. DaVita has more than 30 free kidney diet cookbooks to guide you through your first menu-writing experience. Another tip that can help you get through menu-writing is to save your favorite recipes in one location throughout the year. Use your favorite saved recipes when the holidays roll around. Stay ahead of stress by staying ahead of holiday meal planning. For nutrient information on specific foods, use the DaVita Food Analyzer. If you are tech savvy, manage your meal planning using an app such as Nutra Check or Chronometer to help you analyze your choices.

A: An Active and Balanced Mind

Always take time for self-care. If your lifestyle is busy and overly hectic during the holidays, schedule a time to relax with meditation or simple breathing techniques. It is well known that stress and lack of sleep may affect the diet. People tend to make poor food choices when running low on sleep. (1,2) Keep your mind calm by being mindful of the events coming up during the holidays, and how you can make time to relax. 

R: Remember to Fit in Fitness

Staying on top of an exercise routine is essential for optimal glucose management during the holidays and all year round. (3) You may find yourself opting for better snacks and eating fewer high-calorie foods after exercise. (4) Exercise can not only help you feel better, it can also make you more aware of the fact that you are making mindful choices to be healthy.

TT: Talk It Through and Take Charge

Reach out to your support system of family, friends or co-workers during the holidays. Talk through your concerns about holiday eating, let them know what your health issues may be and the goals you are trying to achieve during the holidays. Don’t be afraid to offer a healthy food option at a friend’s dinner party or bring a healthy dessert. Your ability to take charge of your health habits will help you succeed and still enjoy the holidays with diabetes and CKD. (5)



Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Michele Cook, RDN

Michele Cook, RDN

Michele has been a registered dietitian for over 25 years, and has spent the past 7 years in renal nutrition. She loves being in nature, gardening, walking on trails in Central California and visiting Yosemite National Park with her girls. She enjoys cooking for family and friends and finding new recipes to try.