Holiday Eating Tips for People on Dialysis

After Halloween (and all the diet pitfalls that holiday brings), it seems there’s an array of foods tempting us to overindulge. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s Day all seem to revolve around traditions that include food. Because diet is so critical for people with kidney disease who are on dialysis, DaVita® dietitians have come up with a list of 11 holiday eating tips especially for renal patients. There are also some suggestions on food choices that would make up tasty and healthy holiday meals.

11 Tips for Holiday Eating

  1. When in doubt, always ask your dietitian about healthy meal choices, especially for your individual eating plan.
  2. Limit salty foods. Salt makes you thirsty. If you eat too much salt, you may drink too much fluid and possibly make your next dialysis treatment difficult.
  3. Make your stuffing from scratch and reduce or eliminate the high sodium ingredients such as salt and broth.
  4. Use nondairy topping or whipped cream instead of ice cream on desserts.
  5. Remember to take your phosphate binders. Binders should always be taken with food, because the main action occurs as food is being digested.
  6. Select low potassium desserts such as cake and/or fruit pies, instead of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, fruitcake or chocolate desserts.
  7. Remember that Jello® and other gelatins count as fluid.
  8. Remember that gravy counts as fluid.
  9. Roast meats to the correct internal temperature. Poultry must reach 185º F.
  10. Never eat raw eggs. Use pasteurized eggs in recipes that call for uncooked eggs (such as eggnog or cream pie), or buy commercially-prepared egg products that have been pasteurized.
  11. Leach potatoes (to lower the potassium content). To leach: Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces. Soak in large amount of water (for 1 cup of potatoes, use 10 cups of water) for at least four hours. Drain the water and rinse. Cook in a large pot of water until tender. Drain the potatoes and prepare.

You can put together a delicious holiday meal for the entire family and still select foods that are acceptable for a kidney-friendly diet. Remember to prepare foods with herbs and spices in place of high sodium seasonings. Reduce or replace high potassium and high phosphorus ingredients. You can find recipes for some of the items listed below, as well as many others, in the recipe section of

Try any of the following for your holiday entrée:

Your choice of side dishes can include:

Garden vegetables and fruits you can choose from:

Mouthwatering desserts that make good choices:

Wondering what to do with that leftover turkey? Try these suggestions for a high protein lunch or dinner:

  • Sliced Turkey Sandwiches
  • Baked Turkey Loaf
  • Turkey and Vegetable Stir-fry
  • Homemade Turkey Pot Pie
  • Turkey Salad
  • Turkey Wrap
  • Turkey and Rice Casserole
  • Turkey and Dumplings


Hopefully these suggestions will help you create enjoyable holiday dinners this season that also will let you stay on course with your dialysis diet. You can find more ideas and recipes for people with chronic kidney disease, diabetes or those on dialysis at As a final word, remember, moderation is the key.