Kidney-friendly Tips for Dining Out

Author : Vibhuti Patel, RD, LDN

Who says you can’t eat out with chronic kidney disease? No matter where you eat, it’s helpful to keep some general guidelines in mind. If you will be eating out for dinner, plan breakfast and lunch at home accordingly. Cut back on serving sizes and foods high in sodium and potassium during the day. Call ahead to learn more about the menu and how the food is prepared. Explain that you are following a special diet. Many restaurants now have websites where they list their menus. Choose a restaurant where it will be easiest to select foods best suited for your diet. Restaurants where food is made to order are the best choice. Restaurant personnel are accustomed to special requests for food items or methods of preparation. However, some may require that you call at least 24 hours in advance to plan.

The following tips may vary based on your stage of kidney disease, lab values and individual requirements. Check with your clinician if you have questions.

  • Restaurant portion sizes are usually large. Ask your server to bring only half of your meal and put the rest in a to-go container.
  • If you are on a fluid restriction, remember that anything that is liquid at room temperature is considered a fluid.
  • When it comes to sodium, ask for meal items to be prepared without added salt when possible and request sauces and condiments on the side.
  • Ask about ingredients in drinks like cocktails and specialty coffee drinks to ensure you are choosing lower-sugar options.
  • Check with your doctor about whether alcohol is safe for you to consume.
  • Know your carbohydrate goal and options. Carbs can be found in bread, croutons, starchy vegetables, grains, fruit and desserts.
  • It’s also a good idea to limit fruit juice and sweetened beverages. Water, unsweetened tea and diet clear soda are better choices—you can always add a lemon slice for flavor.
  • If your specific diet includes a protein restriction, you may want to request half portions of main dishes that contain meat, poultry, fish or cheese. You could share a main dish with a dining companion. Another option is to take part of your main dish home in a takeout box. Don’t forget that protein is found in cheese and cream sauces; food prepared with milk, nuts, and eggs; and in vegetarian dishes containing dried beans or lentils.

For more information on a personalized kidney-friendly diet, schedule a visit with a Strive registered dietitian.

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