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 information alongside the information about ‘Eating less potassium’ and ‘Managing fluid intake’ 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 and fluid in case you do eat or drink a little more of other things.
  • Speak to the dietitian for more advice on food swaps.

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 dessert spoons of 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


  1. Place the cherries, mixed peel and prunes in a large bowl, add the brandy/rum and leave to soak overnight.
  2. Grease a 7” (18cm) round cake tin, and double line with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 140oC/120oC fan assisted.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 15 minutes towards the end of cooking.
  5. Leave to cool in the tin, and once cooled decorate with the icing of your choice. Store in an airtight container.

Orange & Cinnamon Icing for Christmas Cake


  • 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 and 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.

Low Potassium Christmas Pudding


  • 8oz/200g plain flour
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 4oz/100g sugar
  • 4oz/100g mixed peel
  • 3oz/75g glacé cherries
  • 4oz/100g white breadcrumbs
  • 3oz/75g tinned plums, drained and chopped
  • 4oz/100g tinned prunes, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 1 egg
  • 6 fl oz/150 ml milk
  • 2 fl oz/50 ml brandy
  • Caramel colouring
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Mix together the flour, apple, carrot, sugar, mixed peel, cherries, breadcrumbs, plums, prunes and mixed spice.
  2. Add the milk, brandy, egg, a little caramel colouring and lemon juice. Mix well.
  3. Line a pudding bowl with a floured pudding cloth and place the mixture in the centre. Tie securely.
  4. Put into a large pan half filled with hot water and boil the pudding for 4 hours. Cool and keep in the fridge.
  5. Steam again for 4 hours before serving hot.

Christmas dinner

Meats, poultry, fish

Foods to choose from

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

Vegetarian main instead of meat or fish

Foods to choose from

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

Foods high in potassium

Dishes made with nuts, courgette, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potato.


Foods to choose from

Boil potatoes first to make roast or mashed potatoes.

Foods high in potassium

Potatoes which have not been boiled.


2-3 portions

1 portion = 2-3 tablespoons

Foods to choose from

Boil vegetables. Choose those lower in potassium such as carrots, red cabbage and cauliflower. Limit Brussel
sprouts to 6.

Foods high in potassium

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

Trimmings and sauces

Foods to choose from

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


Foods to choose from

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 puddings.

Foods high in potassium

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

Fruits (2 fruit portions)

Foods to choose from

Clementines, satsumas, apple, raspberries, tinned fruit.

Foods high in potassium

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

Nibbles & snacks

Foods to choose from

Plain breadsticks, unsalted popcorn, corn, maize or wheat snacks (choose those without potassium chloride), pickled onions, cheese and biscuits. Carrot or cucumber sticks with cottage/cream cheese or sour cream or mayonnaise dips. Cranberries. Chestnuts (5)

Foods high in potassium

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


Foods to choose from

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

Biscuits & cakes

Foods to choose from

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

Foods high in potassium

Stollen, biscuits, cake containing dried fruit, nuts.

Sweets & chocolate

Foods to choose from

Jelly sweets, mint creams, marshmallows and Turkish delight.

Foods high in potassium

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

Alcoholic drinks

Foods to choose from

Liqueurs, port, sherry, spirits. 1 small beer/lager or 1 glass of wine/mulled wine or champagne.

Foods high in potassium

Cider and strong ales. Drinks/cocktails with fruit juice.

Where can I find some recipe ideas?

The Kidney Care UK website has a range of recipes and can be found at: https://www.kidneycareuk.org/about-kidney-health/living-kidney-disease/kidney-kitchen/recipes/

These also include a selection of low potassium Christmas recipes:

  • Pear and white cheddar salad
  • Christmas Cake
  • Traditional mince pies
  • Gingerbread Christmas Log
  • Steamed Christmas pudding
  • Brie and cranberry parcels
  • Sausage Christmas tree
  • Turkey Curry
  • Chocolate profiteroles with Chantilly cream
  • Christmas pudding cheesecake
  • Christmas turkey crown with all the trimmings

Some recipes are also low phosphate or low salt. You can check this under the ‘Nutrition’ section of each recipe.

If you are unable to look at the recipes on the Kidney Care UK website and would like a printed a copy of a particular recipe, please ask your renal dietitian for this.

How to contact us

Department of Nutrition & Dietetics

North Bristol NHS Trust

Level 6, Gate 10, Brunel Building

Southmead Hospital

Westbury on Trym

BS10 5NB

0117 4145428

If you or the individual you are caring for need support reading this information please ask a member of staff for advice.

If you’re an overseas visitor, you may need to pay for your treatment or you could face fraud or bribery
charges, so please contact the overseas office:

© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published June 2023. Review due June 2026. NBT003433

What to eat at Christmas - information for kidney patients