Kidney Diet Tips

9 Happy, Healthy Holiday Tips

We all have holiday traditions, many of which have been in our families for as long as we can remember. Holiday meals with special foods are one type of tradition that adds sparkle to the holidays. These happy, healthy holiday tips are sure to help you keep that shine going through the New Year.

“But I am on a renal diet, where is the sparkle in that?!”… This question can be heard throughout dialysis centers this time of year.

Newsflash! You can and should enjoy the holidays. Find pleasure in being with family, going out with friends, hosting or attending holiday parties and, yes, even enjoy a few “non-renal” food treats. All it takes is some healthy holiday tips, plus planning and motivation!

Here are 9 happy, healthy holiday tips for following your diet to keep your holiday spirits bright:

  1. Adopt a positive expectation regarding holiday eating. Most people tell themselves they are going to blow it with their diet over the holidays, resigning themselves to failure before they even start. Instead, have your mind set on success!
  2. Plan ahead. Map out menus in advance of celebrations and review them with your renal dietitian to ensure you are headed in the right direction. Use recipes on as another excellent resource for planning meals.
  3. When attending a party, offer to bring a covered dish, salad or dessert that you know meets your diet needs. offers a free downloadable winter cookbook with a bounty of holiday recipes.
  4. Give yourself permission to have a “non-renal” treat a few times over the holidays … just control the frequency and keep the portion to a small amount, such as a half-cup serving. If you are generally good about sticking to your diet, a treat now and then is well-earned!
  5. Phosphorus does not take a holiday. Please remember to bring your phosphorus binder medicine with you to parties and restaurants.
  6. Beware of the salty snack foods and appetizers featured at gatherings. Some lower salt choices include cream cheese dip on unsalted crackers or with vegetables like celery, green or red pepper rings and cucumber.
  7. Say, “no, thank you” to refills on beverages. Staying within your fluid allowance will help avoid the health risks of fluid overload.
  8. Remember that many traditional holiday desserts (such as pecan pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate dessert and fruit cake) are high in potassium. Lower potassium dessert options include short bread cookies, apple pie, cherry pie, blueberry pie, lemon pie, pound cake and cheesecake made with cream cheese.
  9. Keep a positive outlook. By following these happy, healthy holiday tips, you are taking the best care of yourself … and your good example may help lift someone else up in the process. There are few holiday gifts greater than that!

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.

Cheryl Hathaway, RDN, CSR, LDN

Cheryl Hathaway, RDN, CSR, LDN

Cheryl lives in Lancaster, PA and has been a Renal Dietitian for over 25 years. She appreciates that her job allows her the opportunity to help her patients feel their best and keep as active as possible with good nutrition. In her downtime, Cheryl enjoys hiking, reading, cooking, following Carolina Panthers football and going on weekend getaways with her husband Mike.