Avoid These 10 Holiday Foods for a Healthy Bladder

The holidays are filled with extravagant dishes that usually include foods like cranberries, chocolate, cheeses, sugar, and who can forget- bubbly drinks! 

The problem with all these foods?

They’re bad for your bladder (especially if you already have incontinence!). Find out why these festive foods can put you in the bathroom at parties and what to eat instead.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods at holiday parties can make your bladder more irritated, sending you to the bathroom more frequently and causing leaks. Read this list of the 10 foods we recommend avoiding for a worry-free holiday season. 

The list of foods to avoid include...

  1. Sugar
  2. Alcohol
  3. Caffeine
  4. Citrus fruits & tomatoes.
  5. Red meat.
  6. Fried & processed foods.
  7. Soda
  8. Dairy products.
  9. Cranberries
  10. Chocolate

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Read on to see why these foods are bad for your bladder health!

  • Sugar. Lots of sugar can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs) because bacteria that cause UTIs love sugars. These types of foods and drinks also make your pee more acidic, further irritating your bladder and creating a better environment for UTI bacteria to thrive. Sugar increases your blood glucose levels, making your body produce more pee than usual. Since it’s almost impossible to avoid sugar entirely on holidays, you don’t need to cut it out of your diet completely. 

Just keep track of how much you’re eating or avoid foods and drinks made mostly of sugar (fruit juices, candies, etc.).

Swap for: Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. These sweet fruits have a ton of Vitamin C which can fight off bad bladder bacteria. 
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is a severe diuretic (a food, drink, or medication that increases urine production by ridding your body of salt and water). Even after just a couple of drinks, you’ll probably experience more frequent trips to the bathroom and an increased urge to pee. This increased urination can lead to dehydration which leads to more concentrated urine- pee that’s dark yellow to brown colors- which irritates your bladder lining and urinary tract because it is more acidic than regular urine. 
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Drinking alcohol can also lead to more frequent UTIs due to the concentrated urine making the perfect environment for bacteria that cause these infections. Alcohol increases your chance of incontinence symptoms by relaxing your bladder muscles. When bladder muscles are relaxed, you’re more likely to leak urine or pee in your sleep. 

Swap for: A noncaffeinated CBD drink. CBD has been shown to improve symptoms of overactive bladder (OAB) and it can help you enjoy a fun drink at your get-together without the negative effects of alcohol. 
  • Caffeine. Caffeine is another diuretic, so if you drink it at holiday parties, you’ll probably find yourself heading to the bathroom more than usual. Caffeine can also make you feel the urge to urinate more frequently if you drink too much of it. Your bladder’s detrusor muscle- the muscle responsible for stretching your bladder as it fills- is also irritated by caffeine. Too much can make your bladder muscles spasm and make you feel like you need to urinate when you really don’t. 
Swap for: Decaf coffees. You'll get to enjoy sipping with everyone else while leaving your bladder undisturbed. 
  • Citrus Fruits & Tomatoes. Citrus fruits and tomato-based foods and drinks increase the acidity of your urine because they are high in phosphorous and potassium, irritating your bladder and making a breeding ground for the bacteria that cause UTIs. 
Swap for: If you’re craving something tangy, try apple cider or white vinegar. 
  • Red Meat. To start, red meat has been linked to bladder cancers and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), so avoiding it at any time of the year is a good idea! The acidity of red meat also lowers your bladder pH and irritates it, and the high levels of sodium (salt) cause your kidneys to filter less waste. 
Swap for: Chicken, fish, turkey breast, or meat alternatives. These are excellent sources of lean protein and don’t irritate the bladder.  
  • Fried & Processed Foods. Fried foods and processed foods can cause constipation. How does that affect your bladder? Well, when you’re backed up, your excrement sits in your colon and pushes up against your bladder. This extra pressure can increase your need to pee because your bladder can’t fill as much as it should. The pressure can also make your bladder contract when you don’t actually need to empty it. A lot of backed-up fecal matter can also make it harder to empty your bladder, causing urinary retention and UTIs.
Swap for: Whole foods. Just eat foods that are in their natural states! You can also opt for baked foods rather than taking the fried road. 
  • Soda. Soda is usually caffeinated, which we know irritates the bladder. Soda contains lots of sugar, which UTI bacteria love. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, also irritate the bladder. 
Swap for: Flavored soda water or regular water. You can make soda water at home, or there are lots of soda alternatives that come in cans these days. Your bladder will thank you for the hydration! 
  • Dairy Products. Dairy products, such as aged cheeses and sour cream, are known bladder irritants. These foods can also cause constipation, making peeing more difficult and making your bladder spasm. 
Swap for: Dairy alternatives. Oat, almond, soy, cashew, coconut, or rice– the options go on and on, and most can be found in the aisles of your local grocery store.
  • Cranberries. Cranberries are found in many classic holiday dishes and drinks, but cranberries can cause bladder irritation! And contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific proof that cranberry juice prevents or cures UTIs. 
Swap for: Cherries. Certain cherries have the tart bite that cranberries do, and it’s easy to make a similar relish out of these red fruits.
  • Chocolate. Chocolate lovers, look out! No matter the milk content in the chocolate you’re eating, chocolate usually contains some amount of caffeine. This means the chocolate will make you pee more or feel more urges to empty your bladder. 
Swap for: Baked goods. Healthier baked goods, like muffins or scones, can be treated as dessert at your holiday gatherings. 

Why Is Bladder Health Important?

Your bladder is a part of your urinary system which keeps your body functioning by filtering waste, excess fluids, and toxins from your body. Your bladder also helps control when and where you decide to pee. If your bladder is irritated or damaged, it could lead to incontinence, or a loss of bladder control. The main symptoms of incontinence are:

  • Leaking urine.
  • Dribbling pee throughout the day or night.
  • Feeling the sudden and intense urge to pee.
  • Using the toilet more than usual.

Other Ways to Keep Your Bladder Healthy

While watching what you eat can keep your bladder in optimal shape during the holiday parties, other ways you can keep your bladder and urinary system healthy during the colder months include:

  • Wearing highly absorbent bladder control products if you already have incontinence. High-quality incontinence supplies, such as bladder control pads, can help keep your incontinence symptoms under control discreetly while you enjoy your time at holiday get-togethers. These bladder control supplies will all catch leaks and trap odors while keeping you dry. 
  • Exercise your pelvic floor muscles. It’s easy to get distracted by holiday fun and not move your body as much during holiday breaks, but working out is an important part of the health of your pelvic floor! Do some yoga at home, go for a swim in your local pool, or try seeing a pelvic floor therapist to help out with managing incontinence symptoms.
  • Save money on incontinence products by getting supplies covered by insurance. Skip the long lines and chaotic stores this holiday season by sampling, ordering, and refilling monthly supplies with a home durable medical equipment provider, like Aeroflow Urology! The best part of our services? You may be eligible to get your supplies covered by insurance so you can use your money for the holidays! To see if you qualify, fill out our 2-step Eligibility Form today. 
  • Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated helps to keep your pee from being too concentrated and it clears bacteria from your body, lowering your risk of developing UTIs, which no one wants to deal with during the holidays! Drink as much water as you feel you need during the day, but be mindful of how much you drink in the evenings to avoid needing to use the bathroom in the night.

Crippa, A., Larsson, S. C., Discacciati, A., Wolk, A., & Orsini, N. (2016). Red and processed meat consumption and risk of bladder cancer: a dose–response meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. European Journal of Nutrition, 57(2), 689–701. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-016-1356-0


Information provided on the Aeroflow Urology blog is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or care from a healthcare professional. Aeroflow recommends consulting your healthcare provider if you are experiencing medical issues relating to incontinence.