Summer can be a particularly hard time to be on a renal diet, especially if you need to follow a potassium restriction. As all the fresh fruits and vegetables come into season it is so easy to indulge in the plentiful and fresh foods in your garden, at farmer’s markets and roadside stands. I vividly remember moving to Southern Ontario from Northern Alberta as a child and I think we stopped at every fruit and vegetable stand on the way! Somehow my dad could never hear us as we shouted for him to stop at ice cream stands but he could spot a peach stand from a mile away.
The key to managing your potassium levels in the summer is: portion size, portion size, portion size. So – while cherries are on the “Enjoy“ list, it’s important to keep in mind that the serving size is half a cup and not a basket. This is true for most fruits and vegetables – so when in doubt – stick to the half cup serving. Most kidney patients who are on a potassium restriction should limit their fruit and vegetable servings to 6 (half cup) servings per day. If your dietitian has calculated something different for you then follow those guidelines.
The trickiest foods to limit seem to be: strawberries, cherries, peaches, corn and tomatoes! One half of a cob of corn is one vegetable choice! One good strategy for managing potassium is not to drink your fruit. One half cup of juice generally has as much potassium as one serving of the fruit but is not nearly as satisfying. Take out one serving and put away the rest. It is much easier to stop when the food is not in front of you. Most importantly though, take the time to savour and enjoy the foods you eat!
As we head into the hot days of summer I want to tell you about a wonderful dessert. In the interest of “research”, my colleague and I were perusing the dairy case at one of our local stores and came across a lemon gelato that was non-dairy, had no phosphate or potassium additives and was one carb choice per half cup serving. This looked like a great product to us so we immediately purchased a carton. This tart lemony gelato is incredibly refreshing and a wonderful alternative to ice cream. It is delightful served with fresh raspberries or blueberries!
Raspberry Lemon Gelato Sundae
½ cup Dorgel Lemon Gelato (sold in most grocery and specialty stores – if you can’t find it – ask!)
½ cup fresh raspberries
Top the gelato with the fresh raspberries and enjoy!