Kidney-friendly diet & COVID-19

Ordering take-out with confidence

Many restaurants are now closed to enforce social distancing, but take-out is still available from many eateries. Here are some ideas for making ordering take-out easy even with your special kidney diet. Start by knowing your diet well and asking your dietitian for any tips or advice. If you have sodium, potassium, phosphorus, or protein restrictions, this information will help you make good decisions based on your specific dietary needs.

Plan ahead

Choose a restaurant where it will be easiest to select foods best suited for your diet. Restaurants where food is made to order are the best choice.

Making your selections

Look over the menu carefully. Ask for more details about items you do not know about. When you place your order explain that you are following a special diet. Make special requests about the way your food is prepared as follows:

Entrées:

  • Portions served in restaurants may be much larger than what you eat at home. When ordering take-out, estimate an amount close to what you normally have. (3 ounces of cooked meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards). Plan to have leftovers or split the meal with another person.
  • Grilled items are good choices.
  • Request that salt not be added when cooking.
  • Request that gravies or sauces be served in a separate container.
  • Avoid mixed dishes or casseroles. They are usually higher in sodium and phosphorus.
  • Remove the skin from poultry and any crusts from fried foods to decrease sodium content.
  • It is best NOT to add steak sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or hot sauce because of the high sodium content.
  • Lemon or lime juice and vinegar make good sauces and will bring out a lot of the natural flavor of foods. Black pepper will add zest to the food without making you thirsty.

Side dishes:

  • If you need to restrict potassium, choose starches and vegetables that are lower in potassium, such as rice, noodles and green beans.
  • If your meal does not include a good choice for your diet, request a substitute.
  • Ask that sauces be omitted or served in a separate container.

Stay safe

Ask the delivery person to leave the bag outside your door or be sure to keep your distance from them, especially if you need to pay them directly. If you have to pay them directly, consider wearing gloves. You can also wipe down the bag with a disinfectant wipe. Make sure food is well heated and reconsider the use of uncooked foods that aren't prepackaged. Of course, wash your hands before eating. Other tips on Safe Food Handling can be found at the FDA website.

What kind of foods should I have in my house?

If there is a virus outbreak in your area and you need to decrease your risk of getting sick, it’s important that you have food in your home. This will help reduce your risk of infection by allowing you to avoid crowded spaces like grocery stores and drug stores.

It's important for you to have shelf stable food choices to help you follow your kidney diet. Shelf stable means foods that last a long time without spoiling, such as canned foods. It’s important to prepare now by stocking up 2-3 weeks’ worth of healthy, kidney friendly foods, fresh water, and medicines. Check with your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your medications.

What are some kidney friendly shelf-stable items for the pantry?

It’s important to keep shelf stable foods on hand to avoid getting sick if an outbreak happens in your area.

Reminders:

  • Throw away cans that are opened, dented, or past their expiration date to avoid food poisoning.
  • Avoid using salt (and salt substitutes if you have a potassium restriction)
  • Keep distilled water on hand (bottles or jugs).

What are some kidney friendly low-sodium items (no potassium or phosphorus restriction)?

Includes all dialysis friendly foods as well as foods listed below.

Fruits (2-3 servings/day)

  • No sugar added canned fruits
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruit Juice

Vegetables (2-3 servings/day)

  • No salt added or low-sodium canned vegetables

Protein

  • Low-Sodium canned meat
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Meat
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Dried beans and peas
  • No sodium added or low-sodium canned beans
  • Shelf stable Tofu
  • Unsalted Nut butter
  • Unsalted Nuts and Seeds

Dairy (2-3 cups/day)

  • Dry Milk Solids
  • Evaporated milk
  • Shelf stable milk alternative (refrigeration required after opened)
  • Rice, soy, almond

Grain

  • Whole grain breads and pastas
  • White or brown rice
  • Unsalted crackers
  • Dry cereals: Low sodium
  • Cooked Cereals
  • Cream of wheat or rice
  • Grits
  • Rolled or steel cut oats

Fats

  • Unsalted butter or margarine
  • Low-sodium mayonnaise (single packets)
  • Salad or cooking oil

Sweets

  • Animal crackers
  • Chewing gum
  • Graham crackers
  • Hard candy
  • Jellybeans
  • Vanilla Wafers

Other

  • Low-sodium Soups and Broths
  • Honey
  • Jelly
  • Jam