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Dining Out With Confidence - CKD 1-4, Not on Dialysis

Main Points

  • Plan ahead
  • Order low salt (sodium)
  • Talk with your Kidney Dietitian for specific advice on potassium, calories, fat, protein, fiber, phosphorus, and fluids.

Planning Ahead

  • Follow your diet extra closely during the meals before and after dining out
  • Choose a restaurant where you can ask for your food to be prepared without extra salt added and they have vegetarian options


  • Some people with kidney disease should not overdo protein intake, but others may need to have extra protein if they're losing muscle. You need to find out the amount that's good for you from your healthcare team.
  • If your team wants you to not eat a lot of protein, then don't use any protein supplements or high protein packaged products. You may also need to limit some foods that are naturally high in protein, such as meat.
  • In general, it may be easier for the kidneys to process plant-based proteins such as soy, beans, and legumes rather than animal-based proteins, such as meats and dairy products. However, that does not mean you have to cut out animal-based foods entirely. You should discuss what can work best for you with your healthcare team. Everyone has different needs, so do not cut anything out of your diet until you speak with your healthcare team.

Low Salt

  • Salt can raise your blood pressure and also make you thirsty
  • Most restaurants add a lot of salt to their foods, especially fast food restaurants
  • Ask for your food to be made without added salt
  • When possible, choose freshly prepared foods

Smaller Portion Sizes if you need to lose weight

  • Avoid the trap of "super-sized" portions, and order only what you need
  • Ask for a to-go container when your food arrives and put half of your main dish in the container before you even start to eat.


  • Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods like proteins, milk, cheese, fast foods, and packaged foods.
  • Limiting phosphorus can help to protect your bones and keep them strong.
  • Choose freshly cooked foods whenever possible and skip the cheese.

Potassium – ask your doctor if you need to limit potassium, and if yes:

  • Avoid: tomato sauces and tomato juice, tropical fruits including bananas, melons, and orange juice, potatoes (white and sweet)
  • Instead, order: pesto or Alfredo sauce or just olive oil and garlic, rice or noodles, and cranberry, apple, or grape juice (although you should avoid these juices if you have diabetes).

If you would like more information, please contact us.

Acknowledgment: Reviewed by the Council on Renal Nutrition (04/2019)

© 2019 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.

Last Reviewed: 04/17/2019
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