The Holiday Dinner Dilemma: Tips For PKD Patients


Oh, the holidays. The lovely time of year when PKD patients must be even more vigilant about what they eat and how much. With class parties at school, office parties with treats a ’plenty, church potlucks, dinners at friend’s house, and goodie trays laden with fudge and cookies making their way through the front door, holiday eating can prove to be a minefield for someone watching their sugar intake, on dialysis, or just being cautious to avoid the pain too much of the wrong foods can cause. Donating your car to Kidney Cars is a cinch in comparison.

We may not be able to make resisting the confectionery temptations easier for you, but we can give you some tips to help you navigate your food options in a way that can help you avoid after-dinner discomfort.

1. Avoid salt.

Salty foods make you thirsty, which makes you drink, which can make dialysis more difficult.

2. Use non-dairy whipped topping

On your desserts, if you can steer clear of cream and ice cream you’ll cut out a lot of fat.

3. Watch your liquids.

Gravy, gelatins, and puddings count as liquids. If you are on dialysis it is important to limit these.

4. Leach your potatoes to reduce potassium.

Patients on dialysis need to watch their potassium levels. You can leach potatoes by cubing or grating them, covering with water, and allowing to sit for several hours (at least four). Drain and cook until tender for mashed potatoes.

5. Go for low potassium desserts.

Cakes and fruit pies have lower potassium levels than pumpkin or pecan pie.

6. Follow safe food handling practices.

Cook poultry and ham thoroughly, don’t consume raw eggs in any egg nog or other dishes, and don’t cross contaminate your food prep area. Food poisoning is unpleasant for anyone but can cause problems for kidney patients.

7. Cook from scratch.

Whenever you can cook from scratch to avoid the high sodium content of most prepared foods.

8. Limit portion size.

Over-eating, even if you make good food choices, can lead to pain in both your kidneys and your abdomen.

9. Meet with a dietitian.

If you’re worried about holiday meals, visit with a dietitian that specializes in kidney disease. They can help you develop a menu and a plan that will keep you from hurting.

10. Enjoy.

Remember to enjoy friends and family, they are what makes the holiday foods seem extra delicious.