Smart Kidney Diet Choices for Social Gatherings

By DaVita® Dietitian Maria Stasios, RD, LDN, CSR

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis from a physician.

With every season comes a different social event. Stay ahead of the game by making good choices when you're on a kidney diet.

1. Plan ahead

Ask your host about the menu so you can decide exactly what you want to eat or plan to bring your own dish. You'll feel more in control of the situation and be mindful of your nutritional needs.

2. Avoid salty foods

Salty foods make you thirsty, which will make you want to drink more than you should. Choose foods that are lower in sodium. For example, chicken and hamburgers are better choices than hot dogs, sausages or ham. Before patties are placed on the grill, ask that yours not be seasoned with salt. You may also want to go easy on barbecue sauce and salad dressing, which are high in sodium, or consider taking unsalted foods to the party.

3. Monitor fluid intake

Know how much fluid you can drink. Remember that items like Jell-O®, salads, ice cream and Popsicles® count as fluid. Quench any extra thirst with hard sour candy or gum to moisten your mouth and decrease your desire for liquids.

4. Limit alcohol

Talk to your physician for advice on alcohol. If approved, use alcohol in moderation. Remember, alcoholic beverages count as part of your fluid intake. Avoid high-potassium and high-phosphorus mixers such as orange juice, tomato juice and colas.

5. Limit high potassium fruits and vegetables

Review the list of fruits and vegetables allowed on your diet, or ask your dietitian for a new list if you need one. Watch your portion sizes, even of the "allowed" choices. Keep in mind that fresher is more nutritious, but this can be a problem for people on dialysis. For example, strawberries that are fresh from the field and peaches right off the tree are often larger than frozen berries or canned peach halves.

6. Practice food safety

Kidney disease puts you at higher risk for food-borne illnesses. Keep food at safe temperatures, wash produce well and use separate cutting boards for raw and cooked meats.

7. Take your binders

Taking your phosphate binders is essential, especially if you are eating a little more than usual. Ask your dietitian if you need to adjust your dosage in time for any special, food-filled gatherings.

Having a good plan in place and keeping a positive outlook about your nutrition will allow you the freedom to enjoy any kind of social gathering stress free. Read more about how to take care of yourself all year long.