Kidney Diet Tips

Tips for Making Your Holiday Recipes Kidney-friendly

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

By this time in December most of you are bound to have a few favorite holiday recipes in mind. The challenge is to stick to the kidney diet and still prepare favorite dishes to serve and share during holiday events.  Some substitutions and ingredient reductions, such as using rice milk instead of cow’s milk, reducing nuts to ¼ cup instead of 1 cup, can make a big difference in potassium and phosphorus content of a recipe.

The DaVita Dietitian Team created a handout of tips to help you modify recipes to make them more kidney-friendly. For even more ideas check out the holiday recipes.








How to Modify Favorite Recipes to Fit Your Diet

  1. Apply the 25% Rule for sodium, potassium and phosphorus. To create a kidney friendly modified recipe, reduce high sodium, potassium and phosphorus ingredients to 25% or 1/4th of the original recipe. For example, change 1 teaspoon salt to ¼ teaspoon. Sodium is reduced by 1575 milligrams. WOW!
  1. Use reduced-sodium products, or substitute low sodium, potassium and phosphorus products in modified recipes when possible. Always check ingredients and avoid potassium chloride in lower sodium processed products if you are on a low potassium diet.
  1. Double boil to lower potassium in vegetables like potatoes. Instructions: Peel, thinly slice and rinse potatoes. Cover with twice as much water as potato and bring to boil. Remove from heat and pour off water. Replace with fresh water and cook until tender. Drain and use as desired. Limit portion to ½ cup. 50% less potassium.
  1. Portions matter! Eating ½ cup of food instead of 1 cup makes a big difference in blood levels of potassium and phosphorus.
  1. Experiment with kidney-friendly flavors that are low in sodium. For example, herbs & spices, vinegar, wine, flavored oils, garlic, sweets, marinades and extracts.

Additional Food for Thought

  • Edit your Diet! Edit means to alter, amend, change, improve, revise.  Attitude and a focus on the positive points make a difference.
  • Low does not mean NO. Small amounts of ‘LIMIT’ items may be worked into your recipe modifications. Be aware of your diet prescription and meal plan. How close does your food intake match your diet goals?
  • Be aware that kidney diets are different for each individual. Work with your health care team to learn your limits for safe eating—but with enjoyment.
  • Diet requirements change with factors such as age, size, nutrition, appetite, stage of chronic kidney disease and transplant.
  • Changing your eating habits helps you stay healthier and feel your best. Little changes make a difference.
  • Success doesn’t randomly happen. It’s often the result of trying, planning, failing, changing, making adjustments, and finding what works.
  • Use myDaVita My Meal Plan to track your intake and see the nutrient totals for the foods you eat. You can also use the Recipe Creations feature to enter your own holiday recipes and see the nutrient totals.

Developed by DaVita Dietitians

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.