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Snacks for a Kidney Diet

I’ve been told by my dietitian to eat regular meals and snacks. I have a hard enough time trying to figure out what to eat for meals, much less snacks. What are good choices for someone with kidney disease?

Whether you eat three regular meals, more frequent smaller meals, or your meals seem to blend into the next – for every eating plan out there, snacks can play a major role in a healthy diet. When you have polycystic kidney disease (PKD), whether you’re in the early stages or on dialysis, snacking should be a regular addition to your daily diet. Healthy snacking is key, and will most likely, require a bit of planning.

Snacking when you’re on the kidney diet
Snacking is definitely okay and often recommended when on a kidney diet. It may help to curb your appetite and prevent you from overeating at your next meal, as long as you make healthy choices. Rather than eating a food item that is high in sodium, such as a small bag of potato chips, a better option for a mid-morning or afternoon snack may be a piece of kidney-friendly fruit.

In addition to being aware of what you eat, you need to consider how much you are eating. A very normal side affect of kidney disease progression is a decreased appetite and intake. If your physician encourages you to try to increase your calorie intake, your renal dietitian can give you ideas for the very best choices. Snacking is also a great way to compensate for low-calorie intake when your appetite is not so great, and to keep you satisfied if you feel that your diet is too restricted.

Kidney-friendly snacks
Go through any cookie or cracker aisle of your local grocery store and you’ll find a wide array of snacks. However, if you have PKD, you should limit or avoid certain ingredients that may be present in snack foods. Your doctor or dietitian may recommend that you limit your intake of phosphorus, potassium, sodium and calcium if your kidneys are no longer able to keep these minerals in balance. Keep in mind, unless told differently, by your doctor and/or dietitian, no food is off limits entirely. It all comes down to balance. By educating yourself and with the help of your dietitian, there are many kidney-friendly, healthy and tasty snacks available.

When you look for snacks at the store, staying on the perimeter of the store is always best practice. The produce section, where you can find fruits and veggies are usually a great place to start for good snack options. Your local farmer’s market is also a phenomenal place to try new, fresh snack ideas.

Below is a small list of fruits and vegetables that are low in potassium and great choices for a kidney diet. Not only are these foods good for kidney health, they also provide benefits for overall health. If you are on a potassium restriction, be sure to limit the number and size of servings of fruits and vegetables to those recommended by your dietitian.

  • Apples – High in fiber; good for the digestive system
  • Blueberries – High in antioxidants
  • Carrot sticks – High in beta-carotene
  • Cherries – Inflammation-reducers
  • Dried, sweetened cranberries – Helps to protect against heart disease
  • Grapes – Contains resveratrol to improve blood flow
  • Raspberries – Rich in ellagic acid; helps neutralize free radicals in the body to prevent cell damage
  • Red bell peppers – Good source of folic acid and vitamins C and A
  • Red leaf lettuce – Contains antioxidants beta-carotene and lutein
  • Strawberries – High in vitamin C

If you find yourself away from the grocery store perimeter, here are some other options not found in the produce section. Be sure to check the nutrition label and avoid any items that contain added phosphorus.

  • Animal crackers
  • Bagels
  • Bread sticks
  • Graham crackers
  • Low-sodium crackers
  • Low-sodium or unsalted tortilla chips
  • Muffin (limit bran and chocolate muffins, as well as ones with nuts due to a higher potassium and phosphorus content)
  • Rice cakes
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Unsalted popcorn (making it at home, on the stove, is your best option)

Some high sugar snacks help boost calorie intake and may be recommended if you are losing weight due to a poor appetite. If you have diabetes, consult your doctor before consuming sugary snacks. For some kidney patients, diet restrictions may cause unwanted weight loss. These snacks can help provide extra calories if needed.

  • Fruit pie- made with lower-potassium fruits (ex. Apple, cherry, etc.)
  • Gelatin
  • Hard candies
  • Jelly beans
  • Marshmallows
  • Popsicles
  • Sherbet
  • Shortbread cookies
  • Sorbet
  • Sugar cookies
  • White or yellow cake
  • Vanilla wafers

If you have low albumin (blood protein) and your dietitian recommends extra protein, you may want to include these protein snacks. For dialysis patients taking phosphate binders, you may be instructed to take binders with protein-containing snacks to keep phosphorus in control.

    • Cottage cheese
    • Chicken salad
    • Deviled egg
    • Egg salad
    • Hard cooked egg or egg white
    • High-protein supplements (drinks or bars; check with your dietitian for ones that are appropriate for your diet.)
  • Sliced roast beef-from the deli is best
  • Sliced turkey-avoid pre-packaged meats, as much as possible
  • Tuna salad

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NOTE:  Information or materials posted on this blog are intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment. Any information posted on this blog is not a substitute for patient-specific medical information or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare team or dietitian for a complete dietary plan and recommendations.

PKD Cooking Well CookbookWant more delicious, healthy tips and recipes?

Buy a copy of our cookbook, Cooking Well, which is full of delicious PKD-friendly recipes to help you make healthy choices without sacrificing taste.

Comments

  1. Jill Cassidy says:

    A newsletter from the PKD Foundation stated that soy makes liver cysts get bigger.
    Is this report still the same?
    Thank you.

  2. Kelly Welsh says:

    Hi Jill!

    The current stance is that a diet high in soy may, yes, affect the rate of growth of liver cysts. As with all recommendations, we recommend a diet with soy in moderation. Soy has a substance that mimics estrogen in the body. It can lead to accelerated cyst growth in the kidneys. On the other hand, soy has many anti-inflammatory responses in the body as well. My recommendation, is too include, if you have liver cysts, but limit to a couple of times per week. Hope this helps!

    Kelly

  3. Jessica H. says:

    Glad I saw that comment about soy. I was just diagnosed with PKD last week. Other than the PKD I’m completely healthy, 29 years old, only 3 cysts total between my liver and kidneys, and my blood tests show that my kidneys are functioning normally – but now – I have no idea how I should be eating (all I know is I need to cut down on animal-proteins). I definitely don’t want to consume things that will make the situation worse, but I also don’t want to restrict myself from too many things if I don’t necessarily have to right now. Do you have any advice? I saw on pkdcure.com that soy-proteins are okay, but now in the comments above I see that maybe they aren’t? Very very confused. Any help would be immensely appreciated!
    Thank you!
    -Jess

    1. zeina says:

      Hi Jessica, my name is zeina n I am also 29 years n in ur same situation I was just diagnosed with pkd a month ago including my two sisters.im married with two kids …I’m still confused on what to eat n what not to eat….I hope we stay in touch to share ideas I wish u alll the best….say blessed…

      1. Kathy says:

        Low-OxalateShoppingFoodGuide

        You can google this, print it off and magnet it to your fridge. It’s a great guide and takes a lot of the confusion away. Hope it helps.

    2. Janet Hoerner says:

      Hi ! I just discovered DaVta website that helped me immensely! My husband was diagnose with Chronic Kidney Disease 2 (mild) and he has high blood pressure! After just 2 weeks of cooking measured and tasty meals ( which I tweaked carefully using no salt herbs and flavorings) and Country Crock Veg. Butter….sparingly! We have lost weight in just 2 weeks time and my husbands blood pressure is normal for several consecutive days now…which he hasn’t seen in YEARS!! I am eager to share this information to help anyone else who is as desperate as I was to help my husband’s health! In turn, I am also being helped…a win, win!!!! I thank God!

  4. Kelly Welsh says:

    Hi Jessica!
    Soy is usually recommended in moderation for patients with PKD AND liver cysts. My comment above would most likely be the recommendation for you, as well.

    Kelly

    1. Mary says:

      How about birth control pills?

  5. Gigi says:

    Avoid red meats and control consumption of milk and cheese. Better cheese the aged.

    1. Sandra Carlaw says:

      Isnt this a confusing field to find ourselves in. blowing my mind. I have CKD and am told to reduce dairy, (why is this as its a needed Calcium?)No mushrooms, celery, brussels, tomatoes, spinach, (boil pots and celery first) Coffee? why. I love meat but am trying to go onto vege, ie soya but its high in protein, (restricted) and now a bit iffy? , so another no go area. Im so confused, Ive not been sent to a renal dietician just an ordinary one ( Ihave Crohns, and Diviticular disease) which adds to the confusion. How can I get my Gp to refer me to a Renal Dietician to answer my questions, Is there a website that doesnt conflict with another website on allowances. Ive purchased cookbooks from Kidney associations but there is salt,cheese etc ?????

  6. Omparkash Gill says:

    Dear Sir/madam
    My wife is on dialysis she do the same weekly her creatline is 7.00 please let me know is there any medicine to stop her dialysis.
    Regards
    Omparkash Gill

    1. Kate says:

      Hi Omparkash

      I know this is an old thread but I saw your post and wanted to reply. I hope your wife is doing well. Unfortunately only a kidney transplant will stop your wife needing dialysis. I hope she is on the transplant list and has either got one already or will get one soon. Best wishes.

  7. nikki says:

    Hi…i was told iv got pkd a couple month ago now..im 34 and am worried.my mums got it bad..my mum said i can eat white meat but not red meat…but now iv heard that i cant have white meat either or yoghurts and milk…iv also heard tuna is the best thing for pkd …any advise

  8. Raye says:

    Hi, I have been diagnosed with PKD 18 years ago. I am now 65 years old. The only restrictions to my diet were: no alcohol, coffee, or tea, aspirins and ibuprofens. My creatinine is 100 (stage 1 of eGFR). I therefore have functioning kidneys even if I have blood in my urine. I think the key is what was said in the article above…everything in moderation!! I normally have a high bran breakfast and the rest is in moderation. Hope this helps.

    1. Jeff Quinn says:

      Yes, I agree with the moderation thing, sir. My dad’s been told to keep off of alcohol and coffee, too. And soft drinks. My dad being diagnosed is the reason I work with a team that specializes in kidney healthcare right now. Even wrote an article about these habits that harm kidneys.

  9. jo says:

    I’m 57 and was diagnosed with PKD stage 3 a year ago. I have been scared to death since finding out. But my mind goes in circles as what to eat and not eat. My Dr has really only taken me off of ibuprofen, I’m not a drinker and quite smoking 10 ears ago. Is there may a list I can print off. And any advised would be greatly appreciated. I don’t take any over the counter meds unless I call the Dr and check first.

  10. mark G says:

    am stage 3B male 63, my creatinine was 3.44 now 2.12 i reduced it by switching to a plant based diet. no meats, white or red, no dairy cept a little pie w/ some diary like eggs milk l also eat eggs, switched to coconut milk *lite) mix with water melon and ear protein for somewaych the potassium…… wath you postassium
    make buckwheat pancakes with blueberries and honey, cherrios, oatmeal w/ black berries……
    lots of tilapia, cod some flounder all good for PKD and CKD…..get some cranberry concentrate drink it with water,, drink lots of water….. eat lots of dr prager veggie burgers, mix with hummus on top with cabbage and musgrooms in a sprout erap low in salt and thats a meal…lost of veggie sushi rolls…. GLTA.
    so much more. when peeing at night, if you pee more than twice keep a pitcher by the bed and pee in that so you don’t fall and hurt yourselves…if the stream is slow push the glanis penis against the rim of the pitcher to speed up the flow…..works like a charm…. maybe i have prostate issues also…..;) and make sure you void all the urine at end by pushing the side against ur pister.. so you don’t want to have a urine smell or drip when u climb back in bed….
    can’t fall asleep after? lie in bed with your right hand hold your ring finger middle and index finger of your other hand and squeeze…you will be asleep in no time..it clears your mind……

    just started using tumeric spices on all my foods cept breakfast, i feel good, but may be declining…was at 30 egfr 4 years ago am now 32 egfr….i plan on raising my egfr, was terrified of going on dialysis….my sister was going to give me a kidney but she was just scamming me for money…so i really have no one i can depend on so i am trying to stay off dialysis…..;)
    give it time and you won’t be that afraid of dialysis as much as i was originally, pray i will last another 10 years, but the odds are against me doing so…..
    been taking this banyan kidney pill…..use a mr. coffee cup warmer when my mouth gets dry at night….avoid anythng cold..you need warm kidneys avoid ice cream sorbet etc,,,,, warm your drinks…..best thing to do is take vinyassa yoga.. i try to go daily….in NYC there is a cheap yoga program called yoga to the people at many locations strictly donation based, it keeps my blood pressure near nromal maybe a little high but off cardio drugs…. increasing blood flow to kidneys is crucial…..

  11. Xylan says:

    are jelly beans kidney friendly?

  12. Ell says:

    I love dairy, but, now have a high creatinine and eGFR levels, and am scared and don;t know what to eat anymore..I thought I was doing good by having a fruit salad with bananas and other berries,but potassium now the enemy, as is dairy, cheese milk etc and protein is a problem for the kidneys too…. I need calcium, and protein so where can I get enough calcium and protein to keep strong,and how much do I need not to hurt my kidneys
    . I am totally confused and starving…Help..

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  14. bund.de says:

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of
    your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.

    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images.

    Maybe you could space it out better?

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