Kidney Diet Tips

Tips for Tailgating Success

Football season is here! Whether you are headed to your favorite stadium or hosting a party at home, the key to enjoying tailgating season is BEING PREPARED! Fall is such a wonderful time spent with family and friends cheering on your favorite teams and enjoying delicious foods. By planning ahead you can feel more in control at social events and better able to keep your diet on track.

Game Day Strategy

To help make sure you are prepared for this tailgating season, plan ahead and consider some simple tips. First, bring your own dish to share. Second, fill your plate with more kidney-friendly options and limit those that are not. And third, plan your fluid intake. You can be successful at any game day party when practicing moderation.

Bringing Your Own Dish to Share

Whether you are hosting your own tailgating party or joining with other friends and family, one of the best ways to stay on track is bringing your own dishes to share. If this is not an option, you could always inform the host of your dietary restrictions. The recipes provided on are a great place to start when looking for recipe ideas. Many of these tasty recipes, including those in the new Game Day Dishes cookbook can appeal to many people and be a hit at any event.  .  Bringing your own dishes can help to control the amount of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and fluids that you consume. Great tailgating options include: grilled meats, wings, meatballs, vegetables/fruits, and homemade dips.  Check out these recipes from the latest Today’s Kidney Diet Game Day Recipes cookbook: 

If your football feast includes a grill consider making one of these kidney-friendly recipes:

Filling Your Plate

Even if you are bringing your own dishes to the tailgating event, it can be hard to navigate around the other traditional options. When filling your plate keep in mind balance and portion control.   Many times you can make smart substitutions by making a few changes to your usual diet. To keep your plate balanced try incorporating more of the kidney-friendly options along with low potassium fruits and vegetables. Portion control can be hard anytime, especially when at a social event with an abundance of options.  Allow a smaller space on your plate for the higher salt, higher phosphorus and potassium foods such as dips and chips. Always aim to include a high quality protein option such as grilled chicken, hamburger, or wings. Tailgate parties can be great for helping dialysis patients to meet their daily protein goals when there are many grilled meat choices.

Limit Your Fluids

Limiting fluids and keeping your sodium intake low can be extra challenging during football season.   Restricting sodium is important in chronic kidney disease for many reasons; especially for blood pressure control, fluid retention, and thirst.  Choosing foods with lower amounts of sodium can help you stay on the right track with your diet while also improving your overall heart health.

Many social events, including tailgates require extra planning to ensure you do not overdo the amount of fluids you are drinking. Most dialysis patients are recommended to drink around 32ounces of fluid daily. Make sure and check with your nephrologist or renal dietitian on the right fluid restriction for you.  Tips for reducing fluid on busy game day weekends are: limiting fluid intake before and after the tailgating party, using a smaller cup (4 to 12 ounces) and allowing only a certain number or refills, and bringing gum or other hard candies to quench your thirst.

For more game day favorites check out “Game Day Favorites When You’re on a Kidney Diet“.

Here’s to a fun, safe, and healthy football season to all…GO TEAM!

Jessica Triggs, MPH, RDN

Jessica Triggs, MPH, RDN

Jessica has been a registered dietitian for over 10 years with nearly all of that time working with the renal population. She is passionate about the power of food in improving the health of our communities. She grew up on a farm in Kansas and enjoys gardening and incorporating farm fresh foods in to a healthy diet for her family. Jessica and her husband have two young daughters with whom they enjoy traveling.