Thirst and fluid control is a big deal for many people with kidney disease. Over a year ago I was searching for a sour candy substitute for one of my clients who couldn’t have corn syrup and I stumbled across this fun recipe. I immediately loved the idea! So…. I’ve been waiting for over a YEAR to share this and it is a recipe that doesn’t disappoint.
What’s the big deal about “thirst” and kidney disease anyways?
Here’s the thing about thirst/fluids and kidney disease. Many people with early stage kidney disease don’t necessarily need to monitor fluid intake. Their bodies mostly maintain a good fluid balance. However for many people on dialysis or some people with later stage kidney disease they have to be especially careful about fluid intake. Decreased kidney function means decreased ability to excrete fluid naturally. And carrying extra fluid, means extra strain on the heart. BUT, thirst is a hard physiological urge to battle.
What drives thirst?
The need for fluid can be driven by high blood sugar levels, heavy sodium intake in the diet, some meds, and even just a very sugary diet. AND heat. Heat can be a big driver of thirst. I’m in Texas so summer started 2 months ago (not joking). The temperatures are soaring right now and swear the only way to survive some days is with ice – ice in my cup, a popsicle, or a cold run through the sprinklers.
Success Tips for Battling Thirst?
First and foremost, battling thirst for dialysis patients often comes down to what we eat and not so much what we drink. This is what I mean – not always, but often the most common driver of thirst is simply sodium. Our bodies desperately want to maintain homeostasis and too much salt triggers a delicate but very strong physiological response to drink more water. Over the years, I’ve seen my patients on dialysis with the most success in controlling fluids had a diet that included less processed food, home-cooked meals, and fruits and vegetables. Again, controlling sodium is not the end-all solution to fluid control, but it sure does help. Blood sugar control also can make a big deal for people also dealing with diabetes. Other contributors like meds or quantity of fluid pulled during dialysis are important considerations and should be discussed with your doctors or dialysis staff.
Practically speaking though, for someone with a fluid restriction, thirst is going to be a battle. I’ve seen many patients find success by chewing gum, sucking on sour candy (sour flavors stimulate our salivary glands), trading out a tall glass of ice-cold water for a popsicle or just sucking on ice. My most favorite tip though, especially this time of year, is keeping a several great frozen fruit choices on hand. Raspberries, blueberries, grapes, even watermelon can be super kidney-friendly choices to keep your thirst at bay. AND that is why I love this recipe for anyone following a “renal diet”.
Sour Candy Grapes
Frozen grapes have long been a favorite summertime treat for me. I was intrigued by this two-ingredient recipe and had to give it a go. It really is easy. Pick a favorite Jell-o® flavor (can be sugar free too if you have diabetes!). Roll your wet grapes in the powder and put them in the fridge or freezer to “set.” The jello ends up creating a crusty, sweet, tangy layer to the grape on the inside. Super tasty. You also add lemon juice or if you’re really feeling wild a touch of alcohol to the water before rolling the grapes in the gelatin. Great detailed instructions and photos can be found here.Print
- 1 box of gelatin per 3 pounds of grapes (green grapes are best!)*
- 1 cup water
- Lemon juice (opt)
- Pour gelatin into small bowl.
- Poke a toothpick in through the spot where the stem was attached.
- Using toothpick, dip in water and roll in mix. (Or just have a bowl of grapes sitting in water).
- Put in fridge for as long as it takes to chill them completely.
- Once they are fully chilled you can easily remove the toothpicks.
Phos 46 mg | Potassium 289 mg
* Add a touch of alcohol or lemon juice for extra zing to the grapes
* Sugar free gelatin can be used successfully in place of regular gelatin
* Keep an eye-out for phosphate additives in the INGREDIENTS of your gelatin. Some brands have added phosphates in the form of disodium PHOSphate
* A typical serving of fruit is 1/2 cup, this is a full cup so 2 servings of carbohydrate for people who are carb counting
AND…Heads Up on Gelatin Label (Phosphorus strikes again!)
This recipe has two ingredients: grapes and flavored gelatin. There are lots of different brands of gelatin in the store, so keep tabs on your ingredients. Name brand Jell-o® has added disodium PHOSphate added to some of their flavors, while often generic brands will not have this extra added phos. Whether you’re a person with stage 3 or stage 5 kidney disease, chemical phosphates added to food should be avoided whenever possible. (More coming on that later! Its a big big big important topic!)
KidneyGrub Verdict on Sour Candy Grapes
These were good and fun and colorful! And really, they aren’t just for people watching fluid intake. They are great for anyone, including those needing to watch potassium or phosphorus intake. I thought they were a fun, very different summertime treat. The coating was a little sweet for my personal taste, but I loved how the gelatin made a crunchy exterior on the grape once it set in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. I think next time I make them I’ll use lemon juice for some more zing. Also, I rolled all my grapes with a toothpick and then just stuck them in the freezer. I could not get them off the toothpick once frozen. They were like mini popsicles. Not really a big deal, unless you need to take pictures, which I did. (I ended up snipping the sticks with scissors and “artfully” arranging them in the bowl.) I personally, like my frozen grapes, straight up with no alterations, but I see this as a fun treat for some variety. Wanting more frozen treats? Check out my very most favorite raspberry-pear sorbet here!