Kidney Diet Tips

Eating problems: tips for kidney patients to improve food intake

Summer heat got your appetite? Trying to eat when you don’t feel like it is difficult, but thanks to the DaVita renal dietitian team there’s a list of suggestions to help kidney patients deal with eating problems.

People in later stages of chronic kidney disease and those on dialysis often experience eating problems related to poor appetite, altered taste, feeling full or too tired to prepare food and eat. Add the summer heat to these eating difficulties and you may be at risk for muscle wasting and undesired weight loss. Inadequate calorie and nutrient intake causes deficiencies of  important vitamins and minerals, weakness and lack of energy, and low albumin, a sign of protein depletion.

Try these suggestions when you or your loved one with kidney disease is experiencing eating problems.

Poor Appetite

  • Try to eat meals even if you are not hungry
  • 4-6 small meals or snacks every day
  • Cool or cold foods might taste good
  • Eat your meat first (for protein)
  • Make foods attractive
  • Use supplements if needed
  • Come to all your dialysis treatments & stay for your entire treatment

Strange Taste to Food or No Taste

  • Use other protein foods besides beef and pork
  • Marinate meat, fish, and chicken in salt-free marinades
  • Try cold foods: chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad
  • Brush teeth regularly
  • Use herbs & spices
  • Talk to your dietitian for ideas on seasoning food without using salt

Feeling Full Too Fast

  • Try to eat 5 small meals during the day
  • Eat high protein food first (meat, eggs)
  • Take your time eating
  • Take breaks during meal time
  • Chew slowly & well
  • Avoid high fat foods, fried foods, & rich sauces
  • Do not drink liquids with meals
  • Sip liquids between meals
  • Eat regular planned meals and snacks

Too Tired To Eat

  • Eat well on your “good” days
  • Eat your biggest meal at the time of day that you have the most energy
  • Prepare and freeze meals ahead
  • Use convenience, ready-to-eat foods within your meal plan
  • Let friends or relatives help
  • Try Meals on Wheels or similar service
  • Keep high protein snack foods on hand
  • Get eight hours of sleep

In addition to the above tips to help you eat better, it’s a good idea to have some easy to prepare recipes on hand.  Here are some of my suggestions from the recipe collection:

Chicken Apple Crunch Salad

Ginger-Apple Sparkler

Peach High-Protein Smoothie

Ravioli and Zucchini

Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup

Triple Berry Salad with Cottage Cheese

Kidney diet resources from

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.