A to Z Health Guide

Dining Out With Confidence

Main Points

  • Plan ahead
  • Order low protein
  • Order low salt (sodium)
  • Order smaller portion sizes
  • Talk with your kidney dietitian for more advice.

Planning Ahead

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

Low Protein (before you cut back on protein, find out from your dietitian how much you need)

  • Since animal proteins (beef, pork, poultry, fish, and eggs) put more stress on the kidneys to process it’s important to choose foods withlittle to no animal protein whenever possible. For example:
    • Choose the smallest cut/serving of meat offered
    • Be prepared to take half of your serving home or share it.
  • Here are some simple ways to reduce your protein
    • Order a 1-2 egg option instead of a 3-4 egg option
    • Order a lunch-sized portion, even at dinner
    • Order an appetizer instead of a full meal

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 made foods

Smaller Portion Sizes

  • Avoid the trap of “super-sized” portions, and order only what you need
  • Ask for a to-go container when your food is served and put half of your main dish in the container before you even start to eat.
    • This helps to control both protein and salt

Phosphorus

  • Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods like processed meats, 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, if so:

  • Avoid: tomato sauces and tomato juice, tropical fruits including bananas, melons, orange juice, and potatoes (white and sweet)
  • Order: pesto or Alfredo sauce, or just butter and parmesan cheese, rice or noodles, and cranberry, apple, or grape juice.

If you would like more information, please contact us.

Acknowledgment: Reviewed by the Council on Renal Nutrition (03/2019)

© 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.

The information shared on our websites is information developed solely from internal experts on the subject matter, including medical advisory boards, who have developed guidelines for our patient content. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.