Kidney Diet Tips

Making Holiday Meals Kidney-Friendly

Holidays are a magical time of the year. Sticking to a kidney-friendly diet can be challenging. However with a few changes, it is possible to enjoy holiday meals and celebrations with your loved ones.

Planning Holiday Meals

Planning ahead can make a stressful time easier. If you are cooking, you will be able to control what you are eating. Cooking from scratch is the best way to ensure that your food is healthy as possible. In place of salt, use herbs and spices. Potassium can be reduced in potatoes and other vegetables by double-boiling. This video and article “Lowering Potassium in Potatoes” explains the process.

Gravy can be made from the turkey drippings. The gravy will be less salty then gravy made from mixes and jars. There are many kidney-friendly holiday recipes on If you are visiting friends and family, bring along a dish that is healthy for you and can be shared by all.

Shopping for Holiday Meals

Shopping for food can be challenging. However, with the right ingredients you have a good start for  healthy holiday meals. Some of these ideas and substitutions can help to put you on the right path.

  • Choose apple cider instead of eggnog for a renal-friendly beverage choice
  • Buy a fresh turkey. Frozen turkeys may be injected with sodium and phosphorus additives
  • Count cranberry sauce as a fruit serving if you are counting carbohydrate choices
  • Select fresh ingredients when possible. Instead of using canned vegetables, try fresh or frozen to reduce the amount of sodium in your recipe
  • Make your own stuffing. Boxed stuffing mixes contain high amounts of salt and phosphorus

Eating Tips

Eating holiday meals is one of the best parts of the celebration! Some suggestions to enjoy your meal and sticking to your diet are listed here.

  • If you are on a high protein diet eat high protein foods, such as turkey first. Try to get in 4 to 5 ounces to start your meal
  • Enjoy a kidney-friendly beverage and sip slowly if you are on a fluid limit
  • Avoid added salt and limit salty foods
  • Remember to take phosphorus binders with your meal
  • Use a smaller plate to help control portions sizes
  • Choose a small slice of lower potassium fruit pie, or use a kidney-friendly recipe for pumpkin or sweet potato pie

Remember to enjoy the holidays and holiday meals with friends and family.

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.

Sue Yager, MS, RDN, LDN

Sue Yager, MS, RDN, LDN

Sue works as a dietitian in Carpentersville and Marengo in Illinois She has been a dietitian for the past 15 years. The last eight have been in kidney care. In her spare time, Sue enjoys reading and riding her bike.