Kidney Diet Tips

Food for Thought: Eating with Friends and Family

Family dinners. Birthday parties. Summer picnics. Social gatherings. Holiday events. All involve eating. Have you been caught in a situation where you couldn’t enjoy yourself because the food served wasn’t “kidney-friendly”? Or have you tried to plan a home-cooked meal and struggled with choices?

Eating Challenges

In social situations, let’s face it, some people are ‘food pushers’. They will continue to offer you this dish, and that dish, and say things like “go on, have another piece”. It would be rude not to indulge, right? After all, they spent time making the perfect dish for you and others to enjoy.

At family dinners, do you feel that you have to cook separately for yourself because your family does not eat what you’re eating?  Perhaps you dislike the extra attention given to your “special” diet.

Helpful Suggestions

Rest assured that you are not alone. Following a kidney-friendly diet is not easy.  How could you handle these situations and still feel comfortable? What could you do to avoid feeling ‘singled out’? There are challenges and hard decisions to make, but you can do it! Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Try a new recipe. There are several recipes to choose from on  To get started read “10 Kidney Diet Recipes to Kick Off a Healthy 2018“. Did you know that many of these recipes are standard recipes that have been slightly adjusted to make them suitable for a kidney diet?
  2. Choose a dish to bring to an event, or make at home, and adjust it yourself. Make it into a dish that is suitable for you as well as your family and friends. Substitute ingredients with low-potassium vegetables, low-sodium sauces, or high-quality proteins.
  3. Enjoy yourself! It is acceptable for you to eat small portions of foods that are on the “limit” list. It’s not just what’s in it, but how much you eat, and how often that matters. If you need help with your diet, ask your dietitian.

Expanding Food Choices

The kidney diet includes food options that are healthy and taste great. Increasing the food choices at home will introduce new foods to your family, and can lead to some new favorites for the entire household. Kidney diet recipes are low in sodium. Some recipes can lead to a more balanced diet by adding fruit and vegetable options. Perhaps you will introduce a new food that your family would not have tried otherwise.

Good eating habits are created at home and can lead to better choices and healthier lifestyles long term. So create new opportunities, create new memories, share with friends and enjoy dinnertime and other eating occasions with your family.

Nicole McMullen, RD, LMNT

Nicole McMullen, RD, LMNT

Born and raised in Omaha, NE (which is far more than tractors and sweet corn), Nicole has been a dietitian for over 15 years and has worked with the dialysis population for over 10 years. She enjoys reading, dancing, and relaxing in her spare time and has always had a passion for writing and helping others.