Kidney Diet Tips

Kidney Diet Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

My favorite holiday is almost here again. I’ll be traveling from California to Tennessee to visit family and friends, help prepare dishes for the family Thanksgiving meal and enjoy the leftovers throughout the weekend. Like anyone following a special diet I’m already thinking about how to balance eating foods I love while controlling carbs, fats and calories, my most important diet issues.

Your personal diet issues for a kidney and/or diabetes and/or healthy heart diet may include some of the following concerns:

  • how to keep protein at a reasonable level for a lower protein diet and still enjoy turkey and other protein-containing foods
  • how to balance phosphorus intake with phosphate binders
  • how to control sodium and recognizing the foods most likely to add to sodium intake
  • how to enjoy holiday beverages without blowing fluid limits
  • how to stay within carbohydrate goals and avoid out of control glucose levels
  • how to  limit intake of unhealthy fats like saturated and trans-fats
  • how to keep from gaining weight

To successfully stick to your diet plan and still feel as healthy as possible after this week, take time to develop your game plan. Prepare several recipes you know are suitable for your special diet needs to serve or take to your Thanksgiving event. There are many kidney-friendly recipes with reduced sodium, potassium and phosphorus content on  Read the feature Kidney-friendly Thanksgiving Recipes for some great ideas. Think about how you can ‘save’ foods from breakfast and snacks to eat more at the main meal. Remember to adjust your phosphate binders for smaller and larger meals.

Plan ways you can increase exercise over the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend to burn some of the extra calories consumed. For people with diabetes extra activity helps lower glucose, and the effect lasts up to 24 hours. Exercise also helps reduce blood pressure and can counter some of the negative effects from eating more sodium than usual. It does not matter the type or length of activity. Any exercise, even walking has a positive effect.

Little changes add up when it comes to holiday eating and staying in control. Start with smaller portions on your plate then go back for seconds on the most kidney-friendly foods on the table. Ask for half portions of pumpkin pie and other desserts that contain higher potassium and phosphorus ingredients.  Look over the dishes served and select the items that most fit into your diet plan. If you decide to  include  items you know will blow your diet, eat a plate of kidney-suitable items first then go back for the ‘no-no’s’. You’ll be able to control portions with more will-power after eating first.

Look at the big picture. No foods, regardless of how tasty, are worth feeling lousy afterwards , or even compromising your health  to the point of hospitalization. You can stay healthy and enjoy family and friends this week by following some of the above suggestions.

For more Thanksgiving kidney diet tips, refer to past blog posts Thanksgiving Tips for the Kidney Diet and More Kidney Diet Tips for Thanksgiving and Make Kidney-friendly Changes to Your Thanksgiving Meal.

Happy Thanksgiving!

DaVita Dietitian Sara

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.