Snacks for a Kidney Diet

Some people eat three regular meals a day. Some eat six smaller meals. For others, one meal may blend into the next. For every eating style out there, there is someone who swears by it. But whether you’re a regimented eater or a constant “grazer,” at some point during your day, you’re likely to eat a snack. When you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), whether you’re in the early stages or on dialysis, it doesn’t mean you have to forego snacks because of your prescribed kidney diet. But it does require a bit of planning so you can feel good about including snacks on the kidney diet.

Snacking when you’re on the kidney diet

Snacking is okay on the kidney diet — especially if it helps curb your hunger and prevents you from overeating at your next meal — as long as you make healthy choices. Rather than eating food that is high in sodium, such as a small bag of potato chips, a better option for a mid-morning or afternoon snack is a piece of kidney-friendly fruit.

In addition to realizing what you eat, you need to consider how much you eat overall. Snacking does not need to be synonymous with guilt. If your physician encourages you to increase your calorie intake, your renal dietitian will discuss the best snack choices for you. Snacks can make up for low-calorie intake when your appetite is not so great.

Kidney-friendly snacks at the grocery store

Go through any cookie or cracker aisle of your local grocery store and you’ll find a wide array of snacks. However, if you have CKD you should limit or avoid certain ingredients that may be present in snack foods. Your doctor or dietitian may recommend that you limit your intake of phosphorus, potassium, sodium and calcium if your kidneys are no longer able to keep these minerals in balance. By educating yourself and with the help of your healthcare team, there are many kidney-friendly, healthy and tasty snacks available.

When you look for snacks at the market, go to the produce section where you can find kidney-friendly foods for a good snack option. Below is a list of fruits and vegetables that are low in potassium and great choices for a kidney diet. Not only are these foods good for kidney health; they also provide benefits for overall health. If you are on a potassium restriction, be sure to limit the number and size of servings of fruits and vegetables to those recommended by your dietitian.

  • Apples – High in fiber; good for the digestive system
  • Blueberries – High in antioxidants
  • Carrot sticks – High in beta-carotene
  • Cherries – Inflammation-reducers
  • Dried, sweetened cranberries – Protects against heart disease
  • Grapes – Contains resveratrol to improve blood flow
  • Raspberries – Rich in ellagic acid; helps neutralize free radicals in the body to prevent cell damage
  • Red bell peppers – Good source of folic acid and vitamins C and A
  • Red leaf lettuce – Contains antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein
  • Strawberries – High in vitamin C

Fruit and vegetables are great, but you can also snack on other options not found in the produce section. Be sure to check the nutrition label and avoid any items that contain added phosphorus. 

  • Animal crackers
  • Bagels
  • Bread sticks
  • Croissant
  • Graham crackers
  • Low-sodium crackers
  • Low-sodium or unsalted tortilla chips
  • Muffin (avoid bran and chocolate muffins, as well as ones with nuts)
  • Rice cakes
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Unsalted popcorn

Some high sugar snacks help boost calorie intake and may be recommended if you are losing weight due to a poor appetite. If you have diabetes, consult your doctor before consuming sugary snacks. For some kidney patients, diet restrictions may cause unwanted weight loss. These snacks can help provide extra calories if needed.

  • Fruit pie
  • Gelatin
  • Hard candies
  • Jelly beans
  • Marshmallows
  • Popsicle®
  • Sherbet
  • Shortbread cookies
  • Sorbet
  • Sugar cookies
  • White or yellow cake
  • Vanilla wafers

If you have low albumin and your dietitian recommends extra protein, you may want to include one of these protein snacks. For dialysis patients taking phosphate binders, you may be instructed to take binders with protein-containing snacks to keep phosphorus in control.

  • Cottage cheese
  • Chicken salad
  • Deviled egg
  • Egg salad
  • Hard cooked egg or egg white
  • High-protein supplements (drinks or bars; check with your dietitian for ones that are appropriate for your diet.)
  • Sliced roast beef
  • Sliced turkey
  • Tuna salad

Kidney-friendly snack recipes

Below is a small sample of some of the many snack recipes available on DaVita.com. No matter what you’re craving, there is a kidney-friendly recipe to satisfy it:

Sweet

Sour

Spicy

Savory

Enjoy snacks on the kidney diet

If you eat in moderation and make smart choices that are compatible with your kidney health needs, you can enjoy guilt-free snacking. Take time to learn what snack foods are good for your kidney diet with the help of your doctor or renal dietitian. You can also manage your snacks and other meals on the DaVita Diet Helper.

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