What to Eat at Christmas: Information for Kidney patients

This is a guide to eating and drinking over Christmas if you have been asked to:

· Eat less potassium – to help prevent a high blood potassium level.

· Drink less fluid – to help your breathing and control fluid building up.

· Eat less salt – to reduce thirst and help control blood pressure.

Use this leaflet alongside your ‘Eating less potassium’ and ‘Managing fluid intake’ leaflets given to you by the dietitian.


What can I eat and drink during Christmas?

Here is information on some foods and drinks you can enjoy over the festive period.  It is still important to be careful with foods high in potassium and keep to your fluid allowance. 


·    Foods included here still provide potassium, salt, and phosphate so try not to eat in large amounts.

·    Count foods such as gravy, sauces and custard within your fluid allowance. 

·    Foods such as bacon, ham, sausages, stuffing, gravy, cheese and salted snacks can make you thirsty so eat in smaller portions.

·    If you have diabetes, you can include a portion of dessert and a sweet treat such as cake or biscuits or chocolate. Try to cut back on these afterwards.

·    If you are prescribed phosphate binders, take these with meals and snacks containing phosphate.

·    If you are eating away from home over Christmas, planning ahead can help you to choose suitable foods. Ask the dietitian if you would like to discuss ideas.

·    Try to cut back on festive foods and drinks after Christmas.


How can I include a high potassium food I like at Christmas?

You may be able to include a high potassium food by swapping this for another food. For example:

·    If you are eating a high potassium vegetable such as parsnips with your meal, boil first and eat in place of some potatoes.

·    If you eating a small amount of nuts, eat this in place of a fruit.

·    Cutting back on coffee, fruit juice or a milky drink will help to reduce potassium & fluid in case you do eat or drink a little more of other things.

·    Speak to the dietitian for more advice on food swaps.



Christmas Dinner                                                        

Foods to Choose From

Foods High in Potassium

Meats, Poultry, Fish


Turkey, chicken, duck, goose, beef, lamb, pork or fish.



Vegetarian main

(instead of meat or fish)


Dishes made with tofu, Quorn, lentils, pumpkin, or squash. Cheese or brie & cranberry pastry parcels.



Dishes made with nuts,

courgette, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potato.



(Portion-150g or 3 egg size)


Boil potatoes first to make roast or mashed potatoes.



Potatoes which have not been boiled.



(2-3 portions)

(1 portion = 2-3 tablespoons)



Boil vegetables.

Choose those lower in

potassium such as

carrots, red cabbage and cauliflower. Limit Brussel sprouts to 6.


Vegetables such as mushrooms, parsnips, spinach, vegetable/tomato soup.





Trimmings & sauces



Yorkshire pudding,

apple sauce, cranberry sauce, homemade bread sauce, mint sauce and horseradish.







Fruit pie or crumble (except for rhubarb, blackcurrant or apricot), artic roll, gateaux, ice- cream, sorbet, pavlova, profiteroles or trifle.

Brandy/rum butter or double cream with  


Try to limit to 1 portion of   either Christmas pudding or Christmas cake or 1 mince pie or 1 slice of Yule log




(2 portions)

Clementines, satsumas, apple, raspberries, tinned fruit

Fruits such as apricots, bananas, dried fruit and fruit juices.   



Other Christmas Foods                                        

Foods to Choose From

Foods High in Potassium

Nibbles and Snacks








Plain breadsticks,     

unsalted popcorn, corn, maize or wheat snacks

(choose those without   potassium chloride),    pickled onions, cheese & biscuits.


Carrot or cucumber sticks with cottage/cream cheese or sour cream or mayonnaise dips.


Cranberries. Chestnuts (5)


Potato crisps, Twiglets, guacamole, salsa, nuts and dried fruit.






Chicken or fish goujons, mini sausages, blinis or crispbreads with pate or salmon & cream cheese, prawns, arancini balls, mini quiches or vol au vents.



Other Christmas Foods

Foods to Choose From

Foods High in Potassium


Biscuits and Cakes


Sponge cake, gateaux, cream cakes, jam tarts, jam or cream Swiss roll, brandy snaps, gingerbread or shortbread.

Stollen, biscuits, cake containing dried fruit, nuts.

Sweets and Chocolate

Jelly sweets, mint creams, marshmallows and

Turkish delight.


Hot chocolate.


Limit chocolate to 4 pieces / squares or 2 chocolate coated biscuits.

Alcoholic Drinks

Liqueurs, port, sherry, spirits.


1 small beer/lager or 1 glass of wine/mulled wine or champagne.


Cider and strong ales.


Drinks/cocktails with fruit juice.



Where can I find some recipe ideas?

The Kidney Care UK website includes links to a range of recipes including one for low potassium mince pies: 

Here are some festive low potassium recipes:

Low Potassium Christmas Pudding


8 oz/200g plain flour

1 apple, grated

1 carrot, grated

4 oz/100g sugar

4 oz/100g mixed peel

3 oz/75g glacé cherries

4 oz/100g white breadcrumbs

3 oz/75g tinned plums, drained and chopped

4 oz/100g tinned prunes, drained and chopped

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 egg

6 fl oz/150ml milk

2 fl oz/50 ml brandy

Caramel colouring

2 teaspoons lemon juice


Mix together the flour, apple, carrot, sugar, mixed peel, cherries, breadcrumbs, plums, prunes and mixed spice.

Add the milk, brandy, egg, a little caramel colouring and lemon juice.  Mix well. 

Line a pudding bowl with a floured pudding cloth and place the mixture in the centre.  Tie securely. 

Put into a large pan half filled with hot water and boil the pudding for 4 hours.  Cool and keep in the fridge.  Steam again for 4 hours before serving hot. 


Low Potassium Christmas Cake

This recipe makes a fruit cake with a lighter sponge and all the flavours of Christmas. It doesn’t need to mature like a traditional Christmas fruit cake. Serves 16.


10oz/250g glace cherries, quartered

10oz/250g mixed peel

8 oz/200g tinned prunes, drained and chopped

5 eggs

2 dessertspoons brandy/rum

½ teaspoon of almond essence (optional)

10oz/250g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

7oz/175g soft brown sugar

10oz/250g unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground mixed spice



Place the cherries, mixed peel and prunes in a large bowl; add the brandy/rum and leave to soak overnight.

Grease a 7” (18cm) round cake tin, and double line with greaseproof paper. Preheat oven to 140oC/120oC fan assisted.

Beat the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and spices in a large mixing bowl until well combined.  Fold in the pre-soaked fruit and pour into the prepared cake tin.

Place a double layer of greaseproof paper loosely on top of the cake, and bake in the oven for 3 ½  to 4 hours.  Remove greaseproof paper 15mins towards the end of cooking.

Leave to cool in the tin, and once cooled decorate with the icing of your choice. Store in an airtight container.


Orange & Cinnamon Icing

120g icing sugar          1tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp (5ml) water          2tsp (10ml) juice of an orange

Sieve the icing sugar together with 1 tsp cinnamon, and mix with the water & juice of an orange. The icing should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. If it is too runny add a little extra sieved icing sugar, or if it is too thick then add a little more water.


Ginger Log


2½ oz/65g plain flour

½ oz/12.5g ground ginger

3 eggs

3 oz/75g caster sugar

1 tablespoon hot water


Butter Cream Icing

4 oz/100g unsalted butter or margarine

8 oz/200g icing sugar

1½ oz/37g ground ginger


Grease a Swiss roll tin 12” x 8” and line with greased, greaseproof paper.

Sieve the flour and ground ginger together twice.

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly.

Gradually add the sugar and whisk well until thick, creamy and pale in colour.  It should leave a thick trail when the whisk is lifted.

Using a metal spoon, fold the flour and ginger in gradually.  Finally, add the hot water.

Turn the mixture quickly into a prepared tin, tilting it until evenly    covered with the mixture.

Bake at once just above the centre of the oven preheated to 220C/425F/Gas 7 for approx. 10 minutes or until well risen, light golden and springy.

Turn out on to sugared greaseproof paper.  Remove the greaseproof paper from the bottom of the cake tin and trim the edges.

Spread the cake quickly with warmed marmalade.

Roll the cake to form a Swiss roll.

Beat all the buttercream ingredients together until soft and creamy.

Cover the Swiss roll completely with buttercream, mark with a fork to give an effect of tree-bark and decorate as wished.


If you would like to contact us, please call us during working hours: 8 am-4 pm Monday to Friday.


Renal Dietitians

Department of Nutrition & Dietetics

North Bristol NHS Trust

Level 6, Gate 10, Brunel Building

Southmead Hospital

Westbury on Trym

BS10 5NB

Tel: 0117 4145428

What to Eat at Christmas: Information for Kidney patients