Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Kidney Care Center

Avoiding the Thanksgiving Pitfalls

November 01, 2021

As we enter November, it’s a sign that the holiday season is around the corner. Thanksgiving welcomes us, allowing us to reconnect with our loved ones. Since the holiday is food-centric, it can be daunting to navigate as a dialysis patient. “What should I eat? What should I avoid? How do I communicate my needs without feeling like a burden?” If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions, below you will find solutions to avoiding the holiday pitfalls. Don’t stress, we’re here to help you enjoy the food and loved ones that you love. Although they may need a little education, often you will find that your loved ones are supportive of your needs and want to provide food that everyone, including you, can enjoy.

If you are attending Thanksgiving dinner, it may be a good idea to cook one or two kidney-friendly dishes that you know you will be able to eat. Ask your host what they plan to serve ahead of time so that you can help fill in the gaps with your favorite dishes. Show your loved ones that kidney-friendly foods can be healthy and delicious, so bring enough to share! Always remember the importance of portion control. Just because a dish isn’t kidney-friendly doesn’t mean you have to avoid it completely. Proper portion control can help you keep yourself in check, allow you a little leeway, and still prevent you from derailing your usual diet. Some commonly consumed Thanksgiving foods can be high in phosphorus and/or potassium – macaroni and cheese, gravy, yams, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes, just to name a few. If you decide to indulge in any foods that you know may not be the best for you, limit your portions to less than ½ cup and try to avoid seconds and thirds.

Be mindful of canned and processed foods – boxed stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy mixes, fried meats, powder mashed potatoes, and premade desserts – as these foods can be high in phosphorus and phosphorus additives. These might be some of the items that you can make from scratch at home to decrease the phosphorus content. Make sure to bring and take your phosphorus binders with your meal. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about taking an extra binder with your big meal, this would help to cover for the extra food or phosphorus you may consume.

Watching what we consume does not only apply to the foods we choose but also to the drinks. Some great holiday favorites include lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, Fresca, club soda; cranberry, apple, and grapes juices. If you have diabetes, be sure to watch your sugar levels and opt for lower sugar or sugar-free varieties. Be careful not to exceed your fluid recommendations, typically between 32 and 48 ounces per day. Make sure to speak with your dietitian regarding individual questions that you may have. We at Dialysis Care Center are wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!

Raag Shanker, RDN, LD
Renal Registered Dietitian

Avoiding the Thanksgiving Pitfalls