Kidney Diet Tips

5 Kidney-Friendly Diet Tips to a Healthy Thanksgiving

By guest blogger DaVita dietitian Susan Lupackino, MHS, RD, LDN

DaVitaTurkeyRoast-6021I love this time of year. Falling leaves are turning beautiful shades of red, orange, brown, gold and yellow. Farmers’ markets are selling seasonal pumpkins and winter squash, coffee shops are serving spiced coffee and tea, and there’s a cool, brisk, and invigorating nip in the air. Apple Pie and Cornbread Muffins are baking in the oven and the swirl of colors and smells come together to make Fall a magical season.

It’s tempting to stray from your usual diet routine around this time of year. The holiday season really tests your willpower, especially for those on special diets for diabetes and kidney disease.  Extra attention is required to remember to take your medications like phosphate binders, or avoid overloading on sodium and fluid.

You can still enjoy the flavors of the season without the negative effects. To help you stay on track get the DaVita holiday cookbook, a collection of kidney-friendly holiday recipes you can download and start using today.

Here are 5 kidney-friendly diet tips to a healthy Thanksgiving:

  1. Turkey time:  Kidney patients should buy natural fresh or frozen turkey and avoid basted ones which are high in sodium. Try preparing your turkey with salt-free rub and low-salt broth. Roast beef, Cornish hen, fish and roasted chicken are also healthy choices.  Apple Pork Chops and Stuffing is also a wonderful alternative.
  2. Side dishes:  Limit sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes – they tend to be high in potassium. However, if you can’t resist, leach the potatoes to lower the potassium content by 1/3 to 1/2. To leach: Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces. Soak in large amount of water (for 1 cup of potatoes, use 10 cups of water) for at least four hours. Drain the water and rinse. Cook in a large pot of water until tender. Drain the potatoes and prepare as desired. Asparagus, rice, Savory Green Beans, corn, Glazed Carrots, cabbage, peppers, celery, parsley, and Roasted Cauliflower are great side dish choices.
  3. Fruits:  Pears, fruit cocktail, apples, applesauce, pineapples, cranberries and peaches can be enjoyed at your Thanksgiving table.
  4.  Dessert:  Select low potassium desserts such as cake or fruit pies. Limit or avoid pecan pie, pumpkin pie, fruitcake or chocolate desserts – these are higher in potassium.  Angel food cake, pound cake, snickerdoodles, and carrot cake are better choices.  Berries Napoleon is also a huge hit. Pumpkin desserts with a limited portion of pumpkin are acceptable. Try Pumpkin Layer CheesecakePumpkin Cranberry Bread or Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars from the DaVita recipe collection.
  5. Fluids:  Avoid salty foods because they tend to make you thirty.If you are on a fluid restriction, remember anything that melts at room temperature counts as fluid.  If you do not want to drink water, beverages such as lemon-lime soda, cranberry and apple juice are good choices.  If you want to try something different, try Cinnamon Smoothie.  And if you want to snuggle on the couch with a good movie, try this easy and delicious Fabulous Hot Cocoa recipe.

Gobble Gobble! Hope these kidney-healthy diet tips offer a variety of options for you during this time of year.Wishing you and your families a healthy and a very happy Thanksgiving!

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 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 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.