8 Dialysis-Friendly Ways to Eat Healthy During the Holidays

dialysis meals

How do you eat healthy during the holidays when you're on dialysis?

It's a good question to consider. When you're living with kidney disease, a critical part of your care is eating the right foods, limiting fluids, and avoiding foods high in sodium, potassium and phosphorus.

And that's harder to do during the holidays where food plays a big part in office parties, family dinners, or dining with friends. You're a lot more likely to encounter foods you shouldn't eat in those settings. But it's still possible to enjoy good food and company during the holidays. Here are our holiday eating tips for dialysis patients:

1. Plan Ahead for Potatoes

To lower potassium levels in potatoes, leach them first. Start by peeling the potatoes, then cut them into small chunks. Soak in water for at least four hours. Drain and rinse. Then cook in boiling water until tender.

2. Use Pasteurized Eggs

If you're in charge of cooking a holiday breakfast or making baked goods, don't use raw eggs. Use pasteurized eggs. If someone is serving you a meal or holiday foods like eggnog or cream pie, ask: Is this made with raw eggs? A simple question can protect your health. An alternative is ready-made egg products, or the fried eggs in this Dialysis-Friendly breakfast.

3. Use a Meat Thermometer

If you're in charge of cooking the turkey for the holiday party, use a meat thermometer. Some store-bought turkeys come with an easy-to-use pop-up thermometer to tell you when the turkey is done. A meat thermometer is also a good option. Poultry must be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees. Looking for an easier turkey dinner? Try the Roast Turkey with Gravy & Mashed Potatoes with Peas

4. Watch Out for Fluids in Foods

When you're on dialysis, limiting the about of fluids you drink is important. Without functioning kidneys, your body relies on dialysis treatments to remove excess fluids. Two foods high in fluids to watch out for at the holiday buffet table include Jell-O and gravy.

5. Enjoy the Right Kind of Dessert

Desserts and sweet treats are a regular part of holiday traditions for most people. But when you're on dialysis do you have to avoid these things? No. But you should be selective and choose desserts low in potassium like pecan pie, pumpkin pie, fruit cake, or chocolate desserts.

6. Take Phosphate Binders

You may already be in the habit of taking phosphate binders. If you're not, the holidays can be a good time to start, to help you avoid absorbing an excess of phosphorus from food.

7. Top It Off with Non-Dairy

A cup of hot chocolate. A piece of pumpkin pie. Or a slice of cake. These are likely desserts you'll want to top off with whipped cream or a side of dairy-made ice cream. Put down the can of whipped cream and step away from the ice cream scoop. Use a non-dairy topping or whipped cream instead.

8. Skip Foods High in Sodium

One of the biggest offenders during the holidays, processed, packaged, or store-bought stuffing. But you can make your own from scratch without adding extra salt. Try this low-sodium recipe for turkey stuffing.

Many other processed foods, meats, and canned goods are also high in sodium. And you need to limit sodium intake to protect your health when you’re on dialysis.

If you need a little help eating healthy during the holidays, check out the Dialysis-Friendly menu of meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.