Navigating Restaurants With Chronic Kidney Disease
If you have chronic kidney disease (CKD), you may avoid going out to eat at restaurants. If so, you are not alone! Dining out can be a scary and stressful task for those with CKD because there can be so many things to keep in mind. Sodium, protein, potassium, phosphorus, hydration... the list goes on and on. However, with careful planning and awareness, people with CKD can enjoy the pleasures of dining out while still prioritizing their kidney health.
Understanding your kidney-friendly diet
Before heading out to a restaurant, it's crucial to understand what a kidney friendly diet looks like for you. Everyone with CKD has different nutrient needs depending on their bloodwork, medical history, and more.
What works for someone else might not work for you. For example, you might need to monitor your sodium intake or potassium intake. It’s important to keep those things in mind when dining out. If you aren’t sure where to start with your kidney-friendly diet, talk to your healthcare team and a renal dietitian to make sure you are eating the right foods for you.
Before heading to your favorite restaurant, don't hesitate to communicate with the staff about your dietary requirements. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate special requests, such as preparing dishes with less salt or substituting high-potassium ingredients. Being open about your needs can help you reduce stress and overwhelm.
Navigating the menu
When looking at the menu, focus on dishes that are more kidney-friendly. Grilled or baked options are often preferable to fried ones, as they are lower in fat and sodium. Plant-based or lean protein sources, such as beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, chicken, and fish can be more kidney-friendly choices. Opting for more vegetable-forward dishes can also help you to manage your kidney health better.
Studies show that those who consume more vegetables with CKD typically have better-controlled blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight than those who consume less vegetables. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions or customizations to your meals, as you’ll never know unless you ask.1
Be mindful of sodium
Reducing sodium intake is often a priority for people with CKD. To compensate for the lack of salt, explore the world of herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals. Fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, and parsley can enhance the taste of your food without compromising kidney health. Asking for your sauces, salsas, and condiments on the side can also help you to be in better control of your sodium intake.
Dining out often means facing larger portion sizes than those prepared at home. While it's tempting to indulge, practicing portion control is crucial for managing CKD. Consider sharing a dish with a dining companion or requesting a half-portion to avoid overeating.
Proper hydration is essential for kidney health, but it's crucial to be mindful of the beverages you choose. Water is the best option. But if you crave something more flavorful, opt for herbal teas or fruit-infused water without added sugars.
Dining out with chronic kidney disease can be both enjoyable and kidney-friendly. Planning ahead and communicating your needs clearly can help you to feel less stressed by the thought of going out to eat. Remember, a well-informed approach to eating out is a key ingredient in the recipe for a fulfilling and kidney-friendly lifestyle.
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