Meal Planning
for Dialysis Diets

Whether you’re planning your meals for the week, looking forward to a special dinner out or preparing a holiday feast, you’ll need to plan ahead when you’re on dialysis. We’ve made it easy with practical tips that help you make healthy—and delicious—food choices.

"I love going to Lake Okeechobee. I still do the things I like to do."

—Ron
On dialysis since March 2015

WATCH RON'S STORY

Eat, drink and be healthy


Eating out doesn’t have to mean taking a vacation from your meal plan. Most restaurants offer kidney-friendly meal choices. Just be sure to ask how the food is made. If possible, speak with the chef directly because they created the food. Ask him or her to stay clear of the salt shaker—and ask what dishes are lower in salt. Family members may even choose to join in solidarity by also ordering kidney-friendly meals. Looking at the menu online and calling the restaurant ahead of time to ask about menu items is also a good idea.

Please don’t forget to bring your phosphate binders. Phosphate binders are medications that bind with dietary phosphorus in order to eliminate the phosphorus from the body, which helps keep phosphorus levels in balance for dialysis patients.

Smart menu choices include:

  • Salads (ask for dressing on the side and, ideally, use simple oil, vinegar or lemon juice)
  • Vegetables (low to moderate potassium) 
  • Fruits (low to moderate potassium) 
  • Breads dipped in olive oil or smeared with a little salt-free butter
  • “Simply” grilled or baked foods, prepared so you can ask the chef to nix the salt and then up the flavor with fresh herbs 

    See specific foods to choose or limit

Avoid high-sodium menu choices such as:

  • Soups 
  • Heavily marinated items 
  • Cream sauces and gravies 
  • Soy sauce and ketchup 
  • Salad dressings 
  • Deep-fried foods 
  • Salt-cured meats (including cold cuts, sausage, bacon, etc.) 
  • All salt (including sea salt, garlic salt, etc.)

Avoid high-potassium choices such as:

  • Dried fruit (raisins, prunes, dried apricots, figs) 
  • Avocados 
  • Mangos 
  • Papayas 
  • Cantaloupes 
  • Kiwis
  • Bananas 
  • Oranges 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Potatoes 
  • Cooked spinach 
  • Salt substitutes that have potassium 

FOODS TO CHOOSE OR LIMIT WITH ESRD

Shopping gets easier with a pocket list of foods you should choose or limit.
FOODS TO CHOOSE FOR ESRD