A Kidney-Friendly Thanksgiving

A plated roasted chicken surrounded by vegetables.

Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends to be grateful for everything we have. It’s also a time to share a meal with traditional foods. Those who are living with kidney disease can still enjoy their holiday meal, even with certain dietary restrictions. Here are some suggestions to help you enjoy yourself without harming your kidney function.

The general diet principles for kidney patients are low-salt, low-potassium, low-phosphorus, low-protein, low-fat, high-vitamin, and high-fiber.

Turkey dishes are popular on Thanksgiving. Buy natural fresh or frozen turkey and avoid basted ones, which contain too much salt. Prepare your turkey with a salt-free rub and low-salt broth. Sodium-free seasoning, such as Mrs. Dash, may be used in place of seasoned or table salt. Pay attention to your portion size if you are on a limited protein diet. Salty condiments, such as gravy, mustard, pickles, or salad dressing, should be avoided.

Popular side dishes include cranberry, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing, and corn. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are high in potassium so, patients should limit their intake. White rice, dinner rolls, green beans, corn, carrots, and cauliflower are all good choices. Kidney-friendly stuffing can be made with low-sodium broth, celery, onions, and herbs.

Pumpkin and pecan pie are popular desserts on Thanksgiving. They are delicious treats, but if you have kidney disease, limit the portion size. Instead, choose fruit pie, jello, fruit ambrosia, applesauce with cinnamon, or sherbet.  If you must have a piece of pumpkin pie, share it with a family member.

As for Thanksgiving drinks, most patients know to avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee and strong tea. If you drink alcohol, limit to one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men. Your doctor will tell you if you need to limit your fluid intake. If you do not want to drink water, beverages such as cranberry juice, apple juice, or sparkling apple cider are all good choices.

May you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

For more information, contact programs@kidneyhi.org.

This information is meant to be used as a resource and is not meant to replace medical advice.

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