Kidney Diet Tips

Thanksgiving Tips for the Kidney Diet

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many people because it’s a time for family and friends to be together, plus all that great food. If you are following a special diet, like the kidney diet, you may find that holidays centered around eating are stressful.  You can refocus by planning some non-food related holiday events. How about some pre or post meal exercise such as walking, basketball, bonce ball, or a Wii activity? You can plan a time for guests to focus on what they are truly thankful and share with the family. Recalling great family stories is fun and a great way to hand down family history to the younger ones. Think about showing family videos, a photo slideshow or photos albums.

When it comes to destressing over holiday foods, time to stop worrying. The DaVita dietitians have created helpful, kidney-friendly eating guidelines to make your Thanksgiving eating easy.

Good to Eat Guidelines for Thanksgiving

  • Soups made with low potassium ingredients and less or no salt
  • Roast turkey, chicken, pork, or beef seasoned with pepper, thyme, Mrs. Dash herb seasoning blends other herbs
  • Homemade gravy made with plain flour (not “self-rising”), less or no salt, and fat skimmed
  • Cranberry sauce or juice (limit amount if diabetic)
  • Stuffing/dressing made with homemade cornbread (plain meal, minimal baking powder, egg, liquid non-dairy creamer instead of milk) and/or bread cubes, sage, onion, celery, salt-free broth 
  • Rice; mashed potatoes made from potatoes soaked to reduce potassium before cooking
  • White loaf bread, yeast rolls, or hot water cornbread made with plain cornmeal
  • Green beans, turnip greens (in moderation), corn, carrots, yellow squash, green beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, string beans, eggplant, peppers, cabbage, coleslaw, small green salad
  • Pie or dessert made with apples or berries; chess pie (diabetics  please have a very small serving)
  • Whipped topping  on dessert
  • Sprite, & 7Up, or gingerale (“diet” if diabetic or avoiding extra calories)
  • Wine or liquor in moderation if OK with doctor / medications
  • Tea, coffee, lemonade, Koolaid

Best To  Avoid for Thanksgiving

(High in Phosphorus, Potassium or Salt / Sodium)

  • Soups made with tomato or potato;  canned soups; salty soup
  • Baked ham (very high in salt), Country ham (very, very high in salt)
  • Canned or powdered gravies; Gravies made with vegetable cooking water (high potassium)
  • Stove Top instant stuffing; Cornbread dressing made from cornmeal mix (high in salt and phosphorus)
  • Dressings containing chestnuts, raisins, prunes (high in potassium) or giblets (high in phosphorus) 
  • Macaroni and cheese made from mixes or with lots of cheese (if  eaten at all, make “homemade” with liquid non-dairy creamer instead of milk, no salt, and minimal cheese)
  • Canned biscuits, biscuits and bread made from mixes or self-rising products (high in sodium and phosphorus)
  • Tomato (if more than a slice), yams, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, baked or fried potatoes (high potassium–you can reduce by soaking potatoes and squash)
  • Pumpkin pie (high potassium), pecan pie (high potassium, high phosphorus)
  • Ice cream that exceeds daily milk allowance (high phosphorus and potassium)
  • Coke, Pepsi, or other “cola” drinks, Hawaiian Punch or other bottled or canned drinks with phosphate additives (high phosphorus)
  • Beer (high phosphorus) 
  • Hot chocolate;  milk in excess of milk allowance (high phosphorus and potassium)

For a complete Thanksgiving menu with kidney-friendly recipes’s feature article “A Feast for Giving Thanks” will provide everything you need to have a stress-free Thanksgiving meal.

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.