Kidney Diet Tips


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Ideas for a Kidney-Friendly Labor Day Barbecue

Labor Day is coming up this week. Maybe you’ve been invited to a socially distanced barbecue or are thinking of firing up the grill in your own backyard. Enjoy this day of rest safely while sticking to a kidney diet.

The History of Barbecue

The word barbecue comes from the language of the indigenous Taino people of the Caribbean, who use the word “barbacoa” to describe grilling on a raised wooden crate. American barbecue dates back to colonial times, and the abbreviation BBQ has evolved over time. To get started on your own barbecue, you will need a charcoal-, gas- or wood-burning grill, fuel and a pair of tongs or grill tools. Red meat, poultry, fish or vegetables, with added sauces or seasonings are among the most popular foods to barbecue. You may think barbecue and grilling are the same. However, barbecue is slow-cooked with the lid down. This allows hot air to circulate. Grilling takes less time using direct heat on the bottom and with the lid up.

Beef and Pork Barbecue Across the Country

Each region of the U.S. has its signature dish for barbecued beef or pork.  

  • Memphis is known for its pulled pork and dry rub (garlic, paprika and other spices). 
  • North Carolina uses pork shoulder or pork rib lightly brushed with a wet rub of spice and vinegar. 
  • Kansas City uses all meats brushed with molasses and tomato sauce, slow cooked over hickory wood.
  • Texas is known for its beef brisket seasoned with a sauce or rub, smoked over pecan or oak wood.
  • Alabama is famous for its pulled pork sandwich flavored with a mayonnaise and vinegar mixture.

Barbecue Sauce: Savor the Flavor and Ditch the Salt

Traditional barbecue can be high in salt and fat. The good news is a homemade kidney-friendly barbecue sauce recipe can greatly reduce the sodium. Try’s recipes for homemade barbecue sauce, zesty barbecue sauce, or spicy barbecue sauce.

A low-sodium barbecue seasoning blend can give your taste buds a workout instead of your kidneys.

Healthy Grilling Ideas

Sour Cream Onion Turkey Burgers

First, chose a lean protein:

  • Poultry with skin removed if lower fat is desired.
  • Beef or pork “loin,” “round,” “choice” or “select.”
  • Fish and seafood—fresh is best. Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel have healthy omega 3 rich fats.
  • Ground turkey or lean ground beef.
  • Veggies—pile on the low-potassium vegetables such as bell pepper, onion, cauliflower, carrots and corn.

Allow the flavor of the meat to dominate. Use only 1/2 cup marinade or 1 tablespoon of spice rub per pound of meat.

Barbecue Safety Tips

Here are a few tips to enjoy a Labor Day barbecue this year.

  • Make it an outdoor event.
  • Arrange seating 6 feet or more apart.
  • Designate one person to serve the food.
  • Provide hand sanitizer for guests to use before eating.
  • Provide disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces.
  • Wear masks or face coverings.

Have a safe, relaxing Labor Day! For recipe suggestions, check out these past Labor Day posts: 

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Dawn Johnson, MS, RDN, LD

Dawn Johnson, MS, RDN, LD

Dawn Johnson MS, RDN, LD knew she wanted to be a dietitian when she was 18 years old. Now practicing over 20 years, Dawn has worked in various settings with a focus in renal nutrition over 12 years. She is passionate about addressing, examining and resolving people’s ambivalence for change. Dawn resides in Highland, Indiana with her husband and 2 young children. During her personal time, she likes to run, visit her local library and volunteer at church.