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Eating Tips for Travelers with Kidney Disease

Whether you take a cruise, venture out for the day or travel abroad, it’s important to plan kidney-friendly meals and snacks ahead of time. Following a few kidney diet eating tips, such as packing enough phosphate binders (if prescribed to you) and talking with your renal dietitian ahead of time, may help you feel well while you eat during your travels.

Depending on your travel plans and destination, there may be different food options available—and they may not always be kidney-friendly. Luckily, there is plenty you can to do prepare ahead of time for traveling on a kidney diet.  

Eating tips for camping and road trips

Are you planning to spend some time in the great outdoors? Taking a long road trip? Here are a few tips to help you find kidney-friendly food on the go or while meal planning for camping.

  • Pack a cooler to give you more food and drink options, making fast food less tempting.
  • Avoid packaged/processed meats, as they can be high in sodium and phosphorus. If possible, use fresh-cooked meats, unsalted canned tuna or chicken or low-sodium deli meats.
  • Instead of potato chips, try unsalted pretzels or low-sodium crackers.
  • If you’re on a fluid-restricted diet, remember that salty foods can cause you to drink more.
  • Always read nutrition labels. Avoid foods high in the three P’s: protein (only if you’re on a low-protein kidney diet), potassium and phosphorus.
  • Practice food safety: pack well, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.

Eating tips for cruises

Cruises are often a great way to spend a relaxing vacation. However, with so many food options available on the ship, it may be hard to decide what’s kidney-friendly and difficult to avoid overeating and drinking. Follow these tips to help you maintain your kidney diet while you enjoy your cruise:

  • If there’s a buffet, select from the healthier areas where you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables and salads.
  • Include a good protein source with each meal, but try to avoid items with breading or sauces that may contain high amounts of sodium.
  • When you book your cruise, let them know your dietary needs. Many cruise lines are willing to prepare foods for special needs. For example, low-sodium meals may be available.
  • Pack your own kidney-friendly snacks to eat between meals or ask for items you know are kidney-friendly.

Eating tips for amusement park trips

A day full of riding rollercoasters can really work up an appetite. These tips may help you find kidney-friendly options at the amusement park, even amongst all the funnel cakes and hot dogs.

  • Consider packing a cooler and storing it in a locker or going to your car for lunch.
  • Choose skinless chicken or hamburgers rather than hot dogs and breaded chicken or fish.
  • Choose a bagel, dinner roll or English muffin instead of french fries.
  • Drink water instead of soda.
  • If high-sodium foods are all that is available then limit these foods at your other meals. Eat a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner to make up for the nutrients you are missing at other meals.

Eating tips for traveling abroad

One of the treats about foreign travel is the opportunity to sample ethnic dishes. Follow this advice for sticking to a kidney-friendly diet without losing the ability to try new foods.  

  • If you don’t speak the local language, bring a phrase book that has a section devoted to ordering food.
  • Talk with your dietitian and make a list of which foods are kidney-friendly and which foods to avoid when you visit a particular country.

Plan ahead and enjoy your trip

Traveling can be a great way to learn, relax and reconnect with those you love. Taking a little time before your trip to plan out your meals and snacks will pay off in the end. Making smart kidney diet choices during your travels can help you feel good and enjoy your vacation.