Healthy Eating during the Holiday Season

Knowing what to eat is important when you are living with kidney disease, especially if you also have diabetes or high blood pressure. Here are some tips to help you make good food choices and stay healthy this holiday season!


  • Speak with your dietitian or doctor and come up with a plan that fits your body’s needs. Consider other conditions you may have like diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as any fluid restrictions you may have.
  • Ask the host what’s on the menu at your holiday gathering so you know what foods will be safe to eat, and which ones should be restricted to a single spoonful.

Be Prepared

  • Eat a snack before coming to a holiday meal. Arriving hungry makes it harder to control portion sizes.
  • Offer to bring a dish, that way you know there will be something safe and delicious to enjoy.
  • Prepare foods at home using fresh ingredients. This is the best way to control what goes into your body at the holidays.

Time to Eat!

  • Limit foods high in potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and fat.
  • Watch the salt substitutes! Avoiding salt is a good idea but salt substitutes are high in potassium.
  • Limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage. Drinking alcohol makes it more likely for you to overindulge in food and increases fluid intake.
  • It’s not all about what you can’t eat, there are plenty of tasty foods you CAN enjoy (always in moderation). Here is a list of some kidney safe fruits and vegetables that are low in potassium and sodium.
    • Low potassium fruits: apples, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, pineapple, strawberries
    • Low potassium veggies: celery, cucumber, peppers, squash, broccoli, carrots


Try these delicious holiday recipes for people with kidney disease (and diabetes!):

Safe Holiday Travel

Being together with family and friends is one of the best parts of the holiday season. Living with a chronic condition can make traveling more challenging, but it’s not impossible! Consider these tips when making travel plans this season.

  • DON’T skip dialysis! Many dialysis centers can arrange to treat patients that are traveling away from home.
  • Bring a full supply of medications for the time you’ll be away, plus a couple extra days so you don’t run out.
  • Make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations! It’s time for the most updated COVID19 booster shot (released September 12th) and the flu vaccine. Make sure you have had these at least 2 weeks prior to travel.
  • Wear a well-fitting face mask in crowded, public spaces like airports and planes. (An N-95 mask offers the best protection against airborne viruses!)

Medication spotlight: Phosphate Binders

  • Phosphorus is an important mineral in our diet that our bodies use to keep bones and teeth strong, regulates nerve and muscle cells, and many other important bodily functions.
  • In people with normally functioning kidneys, excess phosphorus is filtered out of the blood, and released in the urine. When people have kidney disease, the phosphorus can build up to unsafe levels, causing problems throughout the body which can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Phosphorus can be naturally found in foods or added to foods in the form of a preservative. Many beverages like beer and colas, as well as dairy products, contain high levels of phosphorus. Avoiding these foods is best, but some doctors will also prescribe a phosphorus binder that is taken with a meal or snack to help bind to the phosphorus in the foods you eat. This bound phosphorus cannot leave the stomach and intestines and is eliminated in the stool, which helps keep phosphorus levels in the blood lower.
  • If you will be eating foods this holiday that are high in phosphorus, it is recommended to eat a small portion and take your phosphate binder with it (if prescribed).
  • Please remember: You should never take a medication not prescribed to you.


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