Kidney Diet Tips

Holiday eating on a low potassium diet for kidney patients

‘Tis the season to be jolly…and to face a new set of holiday diet challenges. For people with chronic kidney disease or dialysis patients, knowing what to eat and when to be cautious while following a low potassium diet is extremely important. High potassium levels are dangerous and could cause the heart and nerves to stop working properly.

Here are some important things to know and do so your potassium stays in a safe range this holiday season.

  • Select lower potassium desserts like cake and fruit pies instead of pecan pie, pumpkin pie or chocolate and nut desserts.
  • Leach or double boil potatoes to reduce potassium content.
  • Winter vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut, acorn and banana squash are high in potassium. Limit or substitute with low potassium vegetables.
  • Nut and seeds for snacks and added to holiday goodies are packed with potassium.  1/4 cup of mixed nuts contain over 150 mg potassium.
  • Dried fruits are a popular seasonal gift, not to mention the well-loved fruitcake. Remember one piece of dried fruit may be equal to eating a whole piece of fresh fruit. The potassium adds up quickly!
  • Milk, yogurt, ice cream, some soy milks and recipes containing these ingredients contribute to potassium intake. Be aware of ingredients and try non-dairy creamer, rice milk, sorbet or sherbet instead.
  • Prepare low potassium foods for everyone to enjoy at holiday events and family gatherings. You can checkout recipes on DaVita.com.
  • Review high and low potassium food lists to make sure you know which foods to include or limit.
  • Avoid holiday beverages that contain tomato juice, orange juice or other high potassium mixers.
  • If you are on dialysis, be sure to get the full treatment each time. Potassium builds up in the blood on a daily basis and is removed during dialysis. A skipped treatment or loading up on too much potassium between treatments could result in a trip to the hospital for emergency dialysis.

This season don’t let high potassium bring your holidays (and heart) to a stop. Stick to a kidney-friendly, low potassium diet and have healthy, happy holidays!

Having problems with high potassium? Use DaVita Diet Helper to download potassium safe meals and recipes for your kidney diet and to track the potassium from foods you eat everyday.

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.