Having Successful Kidney-Friendly Holidays

Nov 15, 2021 | Tips and Tricks

Holidays are an excellent time to connect with family and friends or even just an opportunity to relax and recharge. However, if you follow a kidney-friendly diet, meals during the holidays can be filled with overwhelm, confusion and disappointment. This article breaks down tips for Holiday Meal success and ways to make foods or choices that leave you feeling proud at the end of your meal.

Day of Tips

  • Don’t skip meals day of the event. 

You may feel like you “want to save it for the big meal,” but skipping meals can lead to overeating (and a stomach ache at the end of your meal).  Instead, eat regularly throughout the day with lots of fruits and veggies (low potassium if you are following a potassium restriction). 


  • Prioritize exercise. 

The actual holiday is jam-packed, but don’t let that stop you. Make a plan to do a family 5k walk in the morning or walk with a family member instead of sitting waiting for food to cook. Destress from the kitchen or a house guest by taking your dog for a walk. 


  • Make a leftover plate so you don’t feel that you need to “try everything.” 

There are so many traditional foods made during the holidays. Make yourself two plates, one for that moment and one for the next day. Keep the portions meeting your kidney-friendly lifestyle and enjoy! Don’t leave yourself feeling like you need to eat it now, or you won’t get it again until next year. 


  • Build your plate in a kidney-friendly way. 

When you plate your food, focus on the plants first. Add nonstarchy vegetables first and make them at least 50% of your plate. Fill in whole grains or starchy vegetables next at about no more than 25% of your plate. Lastly, fill in any plant or animal protein, also about no more than 25%. What about dressing? Keep dressings on the side and dip your food into the sauce to add flavor and reduce salt compared to pouring dressing over foods. 


  • Make a kidney-friendly dessert that everyone will like.

For example, everyone has an opinion on the Thanksgiving dessert. Some people love pumpkin pie, while others are die-hard apple pie fans. Pumpkin pie can be very high in potassium. If you are a pumpkin lover, try making this pumpkin cream cheese muffin recipe from the National Kidney Foundation; This recipe is a lower in potassium option. Apple pie is a lower potassium option. Or you may want to consider baked apples (recipe from @sallybakesblog) with a plant-based ice cream a la mode.

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for food, traditions, and friends and family. Following a kidney-friendly lifestyle does not have to add stress or tension to your holiday. If you are looking for a positive and evidence-based source for your health, check out my website and add your name to the Happy Health Nutrition email list.