Monthly Archives: November 2011

Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating for Patients on Dialysis

By Margaret, DaVita dietitian in El Paso, Texas

We’re all familiar with the busy schedule of the holiday season. We rush through shopping, decorating and holiday parties. On top of all that, there is an extra challenge: continuing healthy, safe eating habits during the holidays.

Is there a key to being successful in following a kidney-friendly diet during this hectic time?  Here are a few ideas:

Ask for help

Friends and family can be our biggest help in following dietary guidelines. Don’t be shy about letting them know what types of foods you can and cannot eat. You can even offer to bring a dish or appetizer you know you’ll be able to eat to a party.

Try to plan ahead

If you know a shopping trip will last beyond mealtime, take a portable meal with you. If you’re attending a party in the evening, eat smaller meals earlier so you can have a little extra at the party. If possible, ask ahead of time which foods will be served at the party. That way, you can have a picture in mind of which foods you can eat.

Set new goals each day

It is easy to get caught up in the season and think: “Oh well, there’s no way I cay stay on my diet this month.” Thinking this way can lead to a whole month of eating foods that may harm your health. Instead, take one day at a time. If you eat too much on one occasion, remember to ‘get back on track’ the next day. Before you know it, you’ll have come through the holiday season with a pretty good and safe eating record.

Try this Party Snack Mix recipe when you go to your next holiday party—or take it along as a snack for a shopping trip.

Party Snack Mix

Recipe taken from Living Well on Dialysis, National Kidney Foundation.

Servings  6 portions
Serving size 1 cup
  • 1 cup rice cereal squares
  • 1 cup corn cereal squares
  • 1 cup unsalted tiny pretzel twists
  • 3 cups unsalted popcorn
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  1. Mix cereals, pretzels and popcorn in large bowl.
  2. Combine melted margarine, garlic powder and onion powder. Pour over cereal mixture and toss to coat.
  3. Add Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake in 350°F oven for 7–10 minutes.
  5. Cool. Store in a sealed container.
Nutrients per serving
  • Calories: 180
  • Protein: 2.5 g
  • Carbohydrate: 19 g
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 386 mg
  • Potassium: 37 mg
  • Phosphorus: 38 mg
  • Calcium: 27 mg
  • Fiber: .9 g
Renal and renal diabetic food choices
  • 1 starch
  • 2 fat
Carbohydrate choices
  • 1

– Reprinted with permission by DaVita Inc.

– Source from


Holiday Eating Tips for People on Dialysis

After Halloween (and all the diet pitfalls that holiday brings), it seems there’s an array of foods tempting us to overindulge. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year’s Day all seem to revolve around traditions that include food. Because diet is so critical for people with kidney disease who are on dialysis, DaVita® dietitians have come up with a list of 11 holiday eating tips especially for renal patients. There are also some suggestions on food choices that would make up tasty and healthy holiday meals.

11 Tips for Holiday Eating

  1. When in doubt, always ask your dietitian about healthy meal choices, especially for your individual eating plan.
  2. Limit salty foods. Salt makes you thirsty. If you eat too much salt, you may drink too much fluid and possibly make your next dialysis treatment difficult.
  3. Make your stuffing from scratch and reduce or eliminate the high sodium ingredients such as salt and broth.
  4. Use nondairy topping or whipped cream instead of ice cream on desserts.
  5. Remember to take your phosphate binders. Binders should always be taken with food, because the main action occurs as food is being digested.
  6. Select low potassium desserts such as cake and/or fruit pies, instead of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, fruitcake or chocolate desserts.
  7. Remember that Jello® and other gelatins count as fluid.
  8. Remember that gravy counts as fluid.
  9. Roast meats to the correct internal temperature. Poultry must reach 185º F.
  10. Never eat raw eggs. Use pasteurized eggs in recipes that call for uncooked eggs (such as eggnog or cream pie), or buy commercially-prepared egg products that have been pasteurized.
  11. Leach potatoes (to lower the potassium content). To leach: Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces. Soak in large amount of water (for 1 cup of potatoes, use 10 cups of water) for at least four hours. Drain the water and rinse. Cook in a large pot of water until tender. Drain the potatoes and prepare.

You can put together a delicious holiday meal for the entire family and still select foods that are acceptable for a kidney-friendly diet. Remember to prepare foods with herbs and spices in place of high sodium seasonings. Reduce or replace high potassium and high phosphorus ingredients. You can find recipes for some of the items listed below, as well as many others, in the recipe section of

Try any of the following for your holiday entrée:

Your choice of side dishes can include:

Garden vegetables and fruits you can choose from:

Mouthwatering desserts that make good choices:

Wondering what to do with that leftover turkey? Try these suggestions for a high protein lunch or dinner:

  • Sliced Turkey Sandwiches
  • Baked Turkey Loaf
  • Turkey and Vegetable Stir-fry
  • Homemade Turkey Pot Pie
  • Turkey Salad
  • Turkey Wrap
  • Turkey and Rice Casserole
  • Turkey and Dumplings


Hopefully these suggestions will help you create enjoyable holiday dinners this season that also will let you stay on course with your dialysis diet. You can find more ideas and recipes for people with chronic kidney disease, diabetes or those on dialysis at As a final word, remember, moderation is the key.

– Reprinted with permission by DaVita Inc.

– Source from


Happy Holidays Brunch for the Kidney Diet

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just enjoy all the festivities this time of year, our renal-friendly brunch menu and tasty recipes will make this holiday season more delightful.

Many times people on a dialysis diet either feel they must deprive themselves of yummy holiday foods in order to keep their lab results in line, or decide to forget about their renal diet altogether this time of year. The good news is indulging in delicious foods doesn’t have to mean you miss out or go overboard. has asked our DaVita dietitian team to put together some holiday favorites for those on a dialysis diet as well as those who have chronic kidney disease (CKD) who are not on dialysis. (Naturally, portion control is advised, as well as discussing your holiday menu with your doctor or dietitian.)

Because you may want to host a holiday brunch for family and friends who are not on a renal diet, these recipes are low in sodium, phosphorus and potassium, but high on flavor. No one will ever know the foods you’re serving are renal-friendly unless you tell them. If you’re invited out for the holidays and need to bring a dish, you’ll be able to share a tasty treat with fellow party-goers and know it adheres to your dialysis diet. By limiting portions of higher protein foods, these recipes are also appropriate for those with chronic kidney disease who are not on dialysis.

We invite you to try the scrumptious recipes on our brunch menu. We’ve made it easy for you with a comprehensive grocery list and easy-to-follow recipes. Happy holidays.

– Reprinted with permission by DaVita Inc.

– Source from


Holiday Blues and Chronic Kidney Disease

Written by DaVita Social Worker Arlene Antonoff, LCSW, BCD

The holiday season is here, along with the anticipation of seeing family and friends, exchanging gifts and sharing traditional foods. Movies and television programs will be showing holiday specials. Stores, shops and offices will be playing festive music. The expectation is that this should be a joyous, even magical time of year, which it can be if you pay attention to your emotional needs.

Time constraints

For many people with kidney disease who are on dialysis, the holidays may remind them of happier times when they didn’t have to think about their health. Between trying to avoid tempting holiday foods and not having enough time for shopping, visiting and all the other things that take up time during the holiday season, some people may resent that they must be on dialysis. While the time it takes to dialyze may be perceived as a burden during this busy season, and avoiding favorite holiday foods may make you blue; try to remember that staying on dialysis for your full treatment and sticking to your dialysis diet will help you feel your physical best. When your blood is clean through adequate dialysis, it helps combat the physiological reasons of depression that can occur with people on dialysis.

Financial strains

Money is another source of holiday depression. The pressure to spend more money than we have to buy gifts for those around us can contribute to feeling down. Wanting to buy expensive presents, but not being able to afford them due to medical expenses, or being on a fixed income can make some people feel bad about what they have not achieved in life. Setting a realistic holiday budget and remembering that “it’s the thought that counts” can relieve stress and help us share the joys of the holidays. Being thoughtful by means other than financial can be a true gift for the holiday season.


The traditions and nostalgia of the holidays are often reminders of those dear to us who are no longer with us. The holiday hype can also contribute to feeling that “everyone has a loving family to be with except me.” Loneliness can be especially present at this time of the year. Remember you are not really alone. Talk with the people at your dialysis center and share your feelings. You may find you’re not the only one with these feelings. If you feel especially down, talk with your social worker who may provide some helpful insight.

Tips for avoiding holiday stress

The mixed emotions that can come with the holiday season are experienced by almost everyone, even people who don’t have renal disease. The true challenge is to prepare for the holidays so that your emotional needs are considered and nurtured. Planning how you will spend the holidays, with whom, and how you will budget your expenses can reduce anxiety and depression and increase the possibility of having a positive experience. The following recommendations are designed to increase your joy and decrease your stress:

  • Plan ahead – If you don’t have someone to spend the holidays with, consider volunteering your time at a shelter or inviting someone new to spend the day. Take a risk and reach out to start a new friendship, ask a current friend to go for a walk or meet for coffee.  There are many free or inexpensive activities available, such as going to a museum, concert, park or the beach. Many places of worship offer special holiday activities and opportunities to interact with others.
  • Get enough sleep, exercise and continue to eat healthy – Something as simple as going outdoors for a breath of fresh air or taking a short walk (although longer is better) can shift a bad mood to a good mood and can reduce stress. The colder weather and shortened daylight hours also affect mood, so be sure to get enough sunlight—and remember sunscreen. The recovery community is active during the holiday season because of the recognition of the stress and temptations during this time. Take advantage of community support programs to help keep you on your diet or program.
  • Decide what might make you feel good – Give yourself a gift this holiday. Phone a friend or relative, curl up with a good book, watch your favorite movies or television programs, prepare a special meal and invite someone over. These are things that can lift your spirit. Again, volunteering or offering to help someone else can be an incredible gift for the giver as well as for the receiver.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself – Budget your funds wisely. Most people really do appreciate the thought that a sincere, handwritten note provides. Take it easy on yourself, too. Don’t try and overdo it. Decide what’s most important and attainable and focus on that.
  • Share your thoughts and feelings – Whether it’s a friend, colleague, professional counselor or spiritual support, talking and expressing your feelings can brighten your holiday season.

– Reprinted with permission by DaVita Inc.

– Source from