New Year, New You: Attainable Resolutions for Those with Kidney Disease

New Year, New You - article written by Dr. Blake Shusterman

New Year, New You: Attainable Resolutions for Those with Kidney Disease

New Year, New Goals! With another new year quickly approaching, many of you will be jumping aboard the resolution train. As you set goals for 2019, take a minute and think about last year’s resolutions. How many of you actually followed through in 2018? Do you even remember what your goals were? If you want to successfully achieve your resolutions for the New Year, start by setting attainable goals. Incorporating small changes into your daily routine is much easier than setting unrealistic expectations.

As you think about the New Year, do not let kidney disease be a barrier towards setting health related resolutions. Write down one or two goals and create a plan for how you are going to achieve each one. Keep this list of goals in a visible place, such as your car or bathroom mirror, where they are always top of mind. Hold yourself accountable.
Below are a few habits to incorporate into your daily routine for 2019. Remember to discuss any new changes to your routine with your physician.

1. Eat More Vegetables
Incorporating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet may help you manage high blood pressure and other chronic medical conditions. Learn to make them the centerpiece of your plate once a day or try to have a meatless day once a week. Think past the boiled greens or steamed broccoli you ate as a child and learn to create even tastier vegetable dishes. As you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet, make sure the vegetables you choose are safe for your stage of kidney disease and do not interfere with your diabetes control or medications.

2. Sit Less, Stand More
Sitting more than eight hours a day may increase your risk of kidney disease – just another reason to get up and get moving. Exercising not only benefits the kidneys, but may also reduce your risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve emotional well-being and keep your bones and joints healthy. It’s the closest thing we have to a miracle drug. Even if all you can manage is a short walk or stretch session, try being active at least three times a week. Move as much as you can.

3. Stop Smoking
Did you know that smoking cigarettes might slow the blood flow to your kidneys? And did you know that your high blood pressure medications might not work as well if you smoke? Though it can be difficult to quit smoking, it is probably the most important change you can make to benefit your long-term health. By making this your primary goal in 2019, you can quickly lower your risk of kidney disease, heart disease, cancer and stroke. With the New Year approaching, there is no better time to quit smoking then right now! DO. IT. NOW. You cannot afford to wait another day.

4. Sleep More
Research studies have shown that getting enough sleep is associated with improved physical health, immune function, mental health and clearer thinking. Unfortunately, busy schedules disrupt our sleep routines and prevent us from getting the rest we need. Shut off electronic devices an hour before your bedtime, avoid caffeine after lunch and meditate before you go to sleep. These are all keys to a healthier sleep routine. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

5. Be Mindful of Your Sodium Intake
Excessive sodium intake can lead to higher blood pressure and fluid retention. These are key concerns for individuals with kidney disease. But did you know that most of the sodium in your diet does not come from your salt shaker? The largest percentage, up to 80-90% of the sodium in your diet, comes from processed foods and restaurant dining. Most of these foods come pre-salted. Learn to cook at home and practice with the freshest ingredients you can afford. Try adding vinegar, lemon or lime juice and other spices to your food. Turn your bland low sodium dishes into flavorful masterpieces.

6. Get Organized
Pick a month in 2019 and organize your medicine cabinet and your medical records. Because certain medications and supplements interact with each other in different ways, it is important to closely manage your medication routine. Make sure each of your doctors know every single one of your medications. Always be consistent and take them at the suggested times of day. Consider a pillbox to help with your organization.

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