Kidney Diet Tips

Phosphorus Control during the Holidays

With winter holidays right around the corner, we often recall fond memories of good times with family and friends. In addition, there’s the aroma of delicious holiday meals and appetizers. For most, a frequent concern is counting calories to prevent the unavoidable holiday weight gain. However, for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) the dilemma of following a kidney diet or not complicates the picture. With some foresight and planning a person with CKD can enjoy some of their favorite foods during the holidays. Let’s focus on phosphorus control tips for this holiday season.

Two Types of Phosphorus

Before selecting holiday recipes it is important to understand the different types of phosphorus found in foods. First there is the mineral phosphorus that is found naturally in food. Food sources like fresh meats and poultry, dairy products, beans, peas, nuts and whole grain products fall into this category. Only about 40 to 60 percent of this natural phosphorus is absorbed by the body. In contrast, phosphorus from phosphorus food additives are absorbed at a 90 to 100 percent level. Foods such as fast foods, enhanced meats, some bottled teas, lemonades and sodas, processed cheeses and baked goods with baking powder contain phosphorus as a chemical added to the food. Being aware of these foods can help with phosphorus control.

Unfortunately, phosphorus is not usually listed on the nutrition label. Therefore, the best way to determine if a food has added phosphorus additives is to look at the ingredients list on the product label. Identify phosphorus food additives like monosodium phosphate or disodium phosphate. With this information in mind select recipes that contain ingredients containing less total phosphorus and less phosphorus in the form of food additives.

Plan Low Phosphorus Menus

Create a low phosphorus menu for your holiday gathering by using some flavorful recipes from DaVita’s holiday cookbooks. Serve Roast Turkey Breast with Salt-Free Herb Seasoning for a savory entrée. Serve a flavorful side with Fresh Herb Stuffing with Cranberries and a more traditional side of Green Bean Casserole. Complete your holiday menu with a tasty treat, Pumpkin Layer Cheesecake. Be sure to look for many more holiday recipes that will create delightful holiday meals.

Entertain With Low Phosphorus Appetizers 

Celebrate the holidays with these scrumptious low phosphorus appetizers. A great place to start is with Are You Kidding Me Artichoke Dip. This appetizing dip for crackers contains a low phosphorus containing cheese, cream cheese. Cream cheese contains only 30 mg of phosphorus per ounce compared to cheddar cheese which contains about 145 mg phosphorus per ounce. Fill your kitchen with the aroma of the holidays by baking a loaf of Cranberry Nut Bread. With only 1/4 cup of nuts in ten slices, this bread is low in phosphorus. Finally a nice sweet appetizer to include is Cheese Tarts topped with your favorite fruit topping or Anise and Orange Biscotti. All these recipes can be found in the holiday cookbooks or on

With the holidays fast approaching, try to focus on all the opportunities to visit with family and friends and not the feeling of deprivation caused by the renal diet limits. Make it a priority to enjoy being with friends and family during the holiday festivities. Plan meals and appetizers that are flavorful, yet low in phosphorus to help with phosphorus control. Of course remember your phosphorus binders if you take them. And most importantly enjoy your holidays!

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.

Lori Steinmeyer MS, RD, LDN

Lori Steinmeyer MS, RD, LDN

Lori has been a registered dietitian with DaVita for more than 12 years and currently she is working in Tampa, Florida. She loves educating and motivating individuals to improve their health with healthy diet and lifestyle changes. She also has a passion for writing about nutrition and health. Lori has co-authored several books, as well as, published many articles on nutrition. In her free time Lori loves to garden, hike and cook new recipes with garden fresh vegetables.