Life seems a mix of joys, hazards, two dogs, diets, dialysis, God, Fairies, learning Spanish, a prayer group, writing books, cooking, gardening and recycling. Quite normal really, but then when you live with a Scotsman in Spain, what can you expect! Actually I can’t think of a better life. Sometimes I could do with a 30 hour day, but then I wouldn’t have the energy to cope with it! No, life is good, God keeps me busy, hazards keep me sharp, and husband Mike and our dogs keep me happy.
Wednesday, 30 January 2019
Surviving Special Diets
‘Enjoying’a Low Potassium Diet with my Potassium
For many years we’ve had our share of dietary changes,
mainly because of Mike’s kidney issues.
In the 1980s he had to go on an elimination diet because he’d
reacted to a dye that a hospital gave him to check out his waterworks. He blew
up like a Michelin man and they found he had an allergy to sulphur.
After a month we were allowed to introduce one new item
every week, and see if he reacted to it, so I got a book on E numbers….. you
know the ones for preservatives, acidity regulators, colour additives etc. The
list seems endless, and I didn’t know what was what, so it was helpful because
sulphurs often crop up in the preservatives, and simple things like sausages,
fruit cordials and some unexpected items like Ribena blackcurrant cordial can
I bought a bottle as a treat because he loves it, and it’s a health
drink. Wasn’t that the best? No, he did his impression of Mr. Michelin again,
and had to have a cortisone injection to get him down. I started watching the
Early on, shopping took ages, but I quickly got used to the
main ones. Mike had to wear one of these allergy bracelets so that in an
emergency he wouldn’t be given any medication containing sulphur. He hasn’t
reacted for a long while but we’re still wary.
He later became diabetic, type 2. We played safe at the
beginning, but Mike’s good at breaking rules so little by little the sweetie
cupboard filled up again. I don’t know how, but he got away with it.
It’s just this year that we’ve had to make changes again,
because his kidney, he now only has one, can’t cope with normal potassium
levels, so, until they explained, we kept ending up at Accident and Emergency.
Doctors keep on saying “eat more fruit and vegetables” except Mike can’t as
they are full of potassium. Latterly I
started packing his overnight case before we went because he inevitably ended
up on a ward.
So eventually we were given a leaflet giving the levels of
potassium in various foods and told to stop the ones with a high content and
restrict the consumption of those which as low, as well. It’s one thing to be told that you have to be on a low
potassium diet, but when the doctors start listing everything you have to cut
out, you can end up wondering if it’s worth eating!
Mike loves so many things that are high in potassium
…..tomatoes, potatoes, nectarines, bananas, beetroot, spinach, melon, trout,
multigrain bread. Some of these are foods we take for granted in our day to day
But I was determined that we could manoeuvre round some of
the ‘bans’, so I started Googling and I suddenly found there were a few lights
at the end of the darkening food tunnel.
I found that the daily target for a low potassium diet is an
average of 2000 mg of potassium, and then I noticed that The University of
Louisville had a points list for foods, counting 1 point for every 39 mg. That set me thinking, so I widened the list to
include other things, by using sites like Eat This Much, and also Wikipedia to
source potassium values
The Louisville site was actually for helping people to
recognise high potassium foods so they could eat more of them if they have low levels,
but heck the same tool can work the other way, if you know what to aim for.
So, now it’s a simple matter to list the point’s value of
individual foods and aim at achieving approximately 50 points each day.
I don’t leach vegetables as I feel they lose other
nutritious values as well as the potassium, and they certainly lose flavour, so
I still steam them. I’d rather cut down the amount rather than dish up
something that’s pretty tasteless and lacking some useful nutrients. I simply work within the points’ amount
available for the day.
So, if you want to enjoy your food, and you or one of your
family is on a Low Potassium Diet please do try my Potassium Points Helper, and hopefully
free your choices. We love our food, and it’s worked for us. I hope it does for
you. Mike has also had to curb the amount of fluid that he drinks because he’s
on dialysis, but at least the potassium is under control
Go to my pagePotassium Points Helper.
An Important Rule is
to jot down the value of each food eaten. Even with low value items, the amount
can build quickly, and like a supermarket bill, you may suddenly find you’ve
exceeded what you can afford to have.
Also don’t ignore
those few grapes, or that tiny chocolate bar, because they add a bit to the
total. You know what I mean.
I have found that a sprinkle
of Bouillon Stock powder acts as a useful salt substitute.
You’ll soon get used
to counting, and may, like us, have to loosen your grip on some foods that you
were avoiding, so you don’t have too low a potassium reading. Knowing what to
aim for puts you in the driving seat.
Oh, one last thing!
If you are doing the low potassium diet for someone else, but you personally
don’t have a low potassium problem, don’t forget to increase your own allowance
to meet your needs or you may end up with the opposite problem.
Medical News Today
list a normal adult’s need to be 4700 mg of potassium a day. That works out to
almost 118 points as a guide.
Below is a list of the links to websites I found helpful.