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Kidney Disease
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Is it OK to Splurge Twice Per Month?

Hi, everyone. My wife (Stage 2 CKD) and I (Stage 3 CKD) have started eating vegetarian and are doing a lot of vegan as well; we are also really watching our sodium intake. We have cut out any and all meats. We have cut out dairy most of the time. We are doing pretty well, but crave a real cheeseburger every so often. Any idea how bad it would be to have two meals per month with real beef and cheese? Thanks.

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Let me help you with this. Imagine a few years from now and you are sitting in a chair hooked up to a dialyzer, and next to you doing the same thing, is your spouse. Ask yourself then, "Was it worth it?". If the answer is, "Yes" then it was worth it. Ultimately, it is your call. Only you can decide if it's worth it. Best of luck with whatever you decide.

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Hello, Mr. Kidney. I don't reply to most posts but I want to add a touch of uncertainty to yours above. Yes, this issue is deadly serious. A weekly bacon mcdouble could well ensure that dialysis is in my future. But one or more other genetic and/or lifestyle factors, not McDonalds, could do me in. Or, quite possibly I could eat occasional bad stuff and never need dialysis. Then again, I might just choke to death on a forbidden burger while still in stage 2.

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Your point? The poster asked a simple question and I replied to that. In case you missed my point it is that the choice is completely up to Beckett24 and his spouse. Asking others what they think does not serve a purpose. He was looking for permission and I placed the decision right back where it should be...in his court.

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HI Beckett,

Good question. Here is only my opinion, so take that for what it is worth. Two cheeseburgers in 30 days is not the end of the world. AND I so get how hard it is to not indulge. At the stages you are at, it is not going to kill you and it probably won't affect your CKD. But....this is what I have found. The longer you stay away from stuff like that, the less you want it. I used to LOVE grilled chicken with cheese on a hard roll with mayo. Yummy stuff. But I have not had one for over a year. Now I do not miss it. Matter of fact I think the fat would now upset my stomach and the salt level would be too much to enjoy. Your taste does change. The other thing, and this is not going to be delicate, it would go right through me. Not worth it.

But you have only one life and this is one of those things that you have to weigh out. If you do feel like this is cheating, then the guilt will probably take away some of the enjoyment. If it doesn't, then, it may fulfill the itch. If you know you are going to indulge, then cut something else out in the day that would help balance the calories and salt.

So just to share a guilty pleasure: I have been pretty restricted on my diet for a long while now and I know I have to do this for life. But sometimes, I get angry at the situation and when I get angry, I am not a nice person. And then I want to eat crap! and I can't so I get more angry. So I let myself have some things that I enjoy. I love popcorn (stage 4) and so does my husband (stage 3a). I stopped it completely because of diverticulitis a while ago. Then I was told that I should and could eat it because the fiber is good for you and it is good for CKD as a snack. But I do not want to eat the chemicals in the bag stuff and hot air popcorn is like eating packing peanuts. So, once a week, on Saturday night, we make a huge (and I mean gigunda) amount of fresh old fashion popcorn and use real butter and very little salt and indulge. So far, I still have lost weight, and it hasn't changed my lab values. Is it worth it to us?..... you betcha! Am I going to hell? Well, maybe but I don't think that will be the cause.

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I find that if i do eat over limit greatly on phosphorus, I itch all over, so I weigh the factors, sometimes it may be worth the itch?

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I agree, Bassetmommer!

Weigh it out! The cheats have to be portion controlled. My husband made me a cake for my birthday. So thoughtful. I had a small piece - it felt foreign.

Like you, I have made many dietary changes and prefer the new lifestyle.

One of my weakness is guacamole. Maybe once every few months and less than a palm full - no chips..with lettuce..

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I’ll admit, I splurge. I’ve done ok so far. I’ve given up a lot of bad things but sometimes I want Mexican food. Life is short. Nobody knows what lies ahead. Sometimes I just want it. Not all the time, but as a treat. So I say if you want a hamburger twice a month, eat it. We’re here to enjoy life too😀

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Cut the burgers in half.

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If I go to McD, I order the Kids Meal. I do not go often, but when do go it is a treat.

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Absolutely! Like fat free frozen yogurt in the summer at our local creamery. A kiddie cup does it.

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Just a tip. Grass fed meat, though quite a bit more expensive, is much higher in Omega 3 which help reduce inflammation. Fast food burgers often come from cows treated with antibiotics and have filler ingredients such as sodium phosphate. They are high in Omega 6 which are inflammatory. If your interested in ethically raised meat, pasture raised grass fed cows have a much more pleasant life than cows raised for mass production.

If your going to indulge, which I do 2or 3 times a year on a burger, really splurge and get an expensive grass fed burger at an organic restaurant. They are not pre made patties so you can ask to have no salt added and they often have way yummier choices of cheese coming from grass fed cows as well so less inflammatory. Then, share one.

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Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for your insight. So... trying to eat this 15 (yes, 15) pound burger is a bad idea then.

msn.com/en-us/foodanddrink/...

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i just recently joined a facebook group...natural kidney journey...everyone who has ckd needs to join this group...i have been eating the way that is outlined in this group since the beginning of march...i have lost a considerable amount of weight...i have gotten off my blood pressure meds...losartain and hydradraline...and a diueritic lasix...i have been working on getting rid of my diabetic med from 2 times aday to 1/2 a day and sometimes not even that...i was a stage 4 ckd at 26 now i am stage ckd 3b at 41...i have gained 15 points...it is similiar to vegan but you cut out sugar...oil...salt...potatoes...tomatoes...no processed food at all...mainly a plant based diet... water and herbal teas are fine...low potassium...low phoshorus...i feel really good...the people who started this group were able to get her husband off of dialysis...and he has been off of dialysis for 14 months...there are a couple of people onsite who have accomplished that...others are raising their gfr's dramatically...all with diet...it is a great group and i am so thankful that i found them...i mean 15 points is terrific for just a month of dedication...i am working to get to stage 2 or better...now this is my experience with this way of eating...everyone is different but i found out i ckd not because my doctor told me but that i looked at my labs...if you are really serious in having better kidney function at least check out this group...

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Congratulations; those are excellent results! Re the person who got off dialysis - what was his GFR while on dialysis and what is it now? I am stage 5 myself, but not on dialysis.

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it was 3 percent and i think it is in the 30's now...i will check and et a definite number...he was on dialysis i think for a year and now he has been off for 14 months...go check out the natural kidney journey...answer those screening questions though or it is automatically deleted...thanks...

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I requested to join that group several days ago and have not heard anything back. I am little reluctant to believe that just diet alone can improve one's GFR from 3 percent (Stage 5) to the 30s (Stage 3). If this is true, why aren't the nephrologists advising their patients of such diets?

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Hi, Steve. I don't know about Stage 5 to Stage 3, but we went vegetarian with working toward vegan on 2/1/19. My wife had her labs done on 3/20/19, about 7 weeks later. They were her first labs in almost two years. About two years ago her creatinine level was 0.91 (not too bad). We had been eating pretty badly before 2/1/19, lots meats and other bad, salty foods, about six buffet visits during the month of 1/19 alone including at least 3 Chinese buffets, the other buffet visits were Round Table Pizza lunch buffets, lots of frozen stuff. Anyway, her creatinine level dropped from 0.91 to 0.79 after starting to eat healthy. Her GFR from two years ago was 66 and now it's 78 (and remember, she is now two years older which decreases the GFR by one unit or so). So diet to people with CKD is massively important - and a great diet also helps with Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and I am sure other conditions as well. And don't forget exercise and proper weight management. I am getting my labs done on 4/22/19 and hoping to see an improvement. It also takes time to see big improvements.

Why don't nephrologists recommend such diets? Because they are not registered dieticians. Virtually all doctors have never taken a nutrition class in their lives; a few medical schools offer only one nutrition class in their medical programs. This is why you should go see a Registered Renal Dietician. But the best thing you can do is educate yourself on diets. Good luck.

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Hi, sharonlyn! I responded to your separate, standalone post. What a great job!

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thank you...:)

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Hi Sharonlyn,

Just wanted to let you know that I have been following the NKJ posts and I am not sure I could do all that they expect. I have cut out a lot of what I eat and I do control sodium, potassium, phosphorous and protein, but unless I take a huge turn for the worse, I can't see myself going as far as they advocate.

lowraind

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It's nearly impossible to advise one way or the other without knowing anything about your medical conditions, lifestyle, exercise, age, overall health, GFR, etc. If you're a 400 pound diabetic who doesn't exercise and has declining GFR, I would suggest staying away from the cheeseburgers. FWIW, cheeseburgers (w/low sodium cheese) are actually on the DASH diet plan for people with hypertension and early stage CKD. DASH focuses on low sodium, lean protein and vegetables rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. Obviously, for people with stage 5 CKD, this is no good due to the potassium and phosphorus restrictions (most cheese/dairy is high in phosphorus). I was in Stanford Hospital earlier this year due to an accident I had and talked to staff dietician about beef a bit. She said it was OK, even for someone with CKD, to eat a small amount of beef, but it was important that it be grass-fed beef (omega 3s and no preservatives). So, although I'm talking in the blind here since I know very little about your overall condition, if you need a cheeseburger fix, then buy some low-sodium cheese and grass-fed beef and make your own burger. In other words, avoid the fast food Burger King double whoppers with cheese. In general, someone who has CKD should follow a low-sodium vegan diet, but you don't have to be religious about it. Just make sure that the monthly cheeseburger doesn't turn into a 3-times a week cheeseburger because there's a correlation between a high consumption of red meat and CKD. Hope this helps.

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Hi, Steve. Thank you for the insight. My wife and I tried making our own cheeseburgers in the past and they were just OK. I would never cheat with those. My wife just found out about this "dive" restaurant where a little old lady makes killer cheeseburgers and New England Clam Chowder to die for (according to Yelp and Google reviews) - why couldn't we know about this place before? We are now following pretty much the same eating plan as sharonlyn. But I won't even think about actually cheating until I see my new labs later this month. Did the staff dietician say it was OK to eat other animal protein, even fish? If so, then she is really behind in the latest and most beneficial diets for CKD.

Wait a minute... now it's a monthly cheeseburger? We wanted two semi-monthly cheeseburgers. LOL

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I don't know where you're located, but California has "gourmet burger" restaurants like The Counter which serve grass-fed beef burgers. I would also guess any nice steakhouse would serve grass-fed burgers as well, but restaurants tend to put a lot of salt on their food.

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Hello, I am newly diagnosed (Stage 3). I am not an expert at ll -- the opposite but I am what you could call a foodie. I asked the doctor (nephrologist) if I could have some planned cheats and she said "YES." If I were you get that burger and enjoy it. An alternative is to make it at home. I bought some yummy frozen Burgers at Walmart. They were all beef and delicious with only 100 of sodium. I don't think there are many out there who can be perfect 100 percent of the time. When I had my Cheat Meal, I did not have any sodium until I cheated on dinner. I wish you and two the very best!!

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Hi, Batsheva. Thank you for your insight and wishes and welcome. How many times per month did she say you could splurge? Well, before we reformed (stopped eating bad foods) we did try cooking burgers at home and they never came out that great. We just found out about this "dive" restaurant that makes to die for cheeseburgers by a little old lady who also makes killer New England Clam Chowder. Why couldn't we have found out about her before? LOL

If you are new to CKD, do yourself a great favor and educate yourself. I stumbled upon Stopping Kidney Disease by Lee Hull available on Amazon which came out on January of 2019. It has tons of useful information including how to best eat for CKD and it is incredibly up to date. All of the diet and CKD information is backed up by medical case studies included in the book (you can skim or skip those).

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