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Improving the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease.

MKC News

Four Tips for Eating Right at Your Summer Family Cookouts

Summertime means nice weather and family gatherings, making it the perfect time to host or go to a cookout. But carefree summer days don't mean you should forget to eat healthily. NKDEP offers tips on eating right for kidney health at your summer cookouts, such as:

  • Choose a smaller plate—most people eat and drink more when served large portions. Decreasing portion size by using a smaller plate can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid overeating.
  • Prepare foods with less sodium—sodium is part of many packaged foods. Prepare sides, like pasta or potato salad, from scratch at home.
  • Experiment with spices—creating a rub out of a mix of spices is a great way to flavor meat without adding salt or fat.
  • Choose heart-healthy foods—grilling is a good alternative to frying foods. Choose lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken breasts, and be sure to trim excess fat.

Do you have any tips for navigating summer cookouts, or any favorite kidney-healthy recipes? Share your knowledge on our Facebook page!

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Meet Kidney Health Champion, Erica Palmer, RN

A picture of Erica Palmer, a registered nurse and member of NKDEP's community engagement partner, Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc.

Nurses are an important part of the kidney health team. They help those with kidney disease and those at risk for kidney disease—people with diabetes or high blood pressure—learn to manage their disease and empower patients to take control of their health.

Erica Palmer, a registered nurse and member of NKDEP's community engagement partner, Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., is no exception. She embodies her sorority's motto of "providing service for humanity" in both her professional work at a local health clinic and community service activities.

"I always wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to go out and bring health care to people," said Ms. Palmer of her passion for helping others. "The better informed people are, the better they are able to care for their health."

Ms. Palmer has figured out creative ways to help her patients stay on top of their health. She's hosted a "frequent flyer program," where her patients were given a card and received a stamp each time they came in and had a blood pressure reading.

She is also committed to helping patients follow the health plan they've made with their health professional. When patients come for a blood pressure reading, she asks that they bring their medications and supplements to the appointment so that she can see what they are taking and give advice on how to protect their kidneys.

Ms. Palmer recognizes that taking the steps to keep the kidneys healthy is not always easy, especially as summer approaches and cookouts are more frequent. She recommends making healthy food choices to reduce salt and sugar intake, as well as walking more. "I tell my patients, take advantage of the nice weather to get out and walk as much as possible," she said. "Use the nice weather to help make healthy choices."

We want to hear from you! Do you have a personal health story you'd like to share? Or do you empower your community to take charge of their kidney health? Email us at to tell us about it and we may feature you in a future eNewsletter!

Page last updated: July 10, 2013