Renal Diet Snacks: TIPS and Recommendations by Dietitian

Renal Diet-Friendly Snacks

Who doesn’t love a GOOD snack? When you are diagnosed with kidney disease, snacking can be tricky. Not only that renal diet is restrictive, people who are on renal diet often have a low appetite and rely on snacking throughout the day. Snacking often is a crucial part of a renal diet, but it’s super important to choose snacks that are low in sodium, phosphorus, and potassium. Additionally, considering the protein intake is crucial, as excessive protein can strain the need for high protein needs. 

Here are some renal diet-friendly snack ideas with a few important things to consider. Let’s jump into it!

Low-Potassium Options

While potassium is an essential some people may need to limit their potassium intake due to specific health conditions, such as kidney problems. In cases of impaired kidney function, the kidneys may struggle to filter and remove excess potassium from the bloodstream, leading to higher levels in the body known as hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia can be life threatening because it leads to irregular heart beat, a serious cardiac issue and we don’t want that. Therefore, a low-potassium diet may be recommended under certain medical circumstances to manage potassium levels effectively. 

Some of my recommended low potassium snacks are rice cakes, unsalted pretzels, small portions of unsalted crackers, cucumber slices and carrots. 

Protein Considerations

As a dietitian, protein is the type of macros that my patient often confuses. “Should I go higher in my protein? Will that damage my kidney? Or should I go lower? 

In general, protein requirements may be adjusted to manage the progression of kidney disease and to avoid excessive buildup of waste products in the blood. To answer this question, individuals with kidney disease, particularly in the later stages, it’s common to reduce protein intake. This is because the breakdown of protein produces waste products that the kidneys normally filter out. When kidney function is compromised or functioning less, limiting protein can help reduce the workload on our kidneys.

General guidelines or I like to say it, general rule of thumb for protein intake is based on your kidney disease stage, which is recommended by the National Kidney Foundation. They are as below.

Low PROTEIN (Kidney Disease Without Dialysis) Snack Recommendations

Stages 1-2: In the early stages, there may not be a need to restrict protein significantly. However, it’s essential to monitor kidney function regularly.

Stages 3-4-5: As kidney function declines, protein intake may be moderated. It’s usually recommended to consult with a dietitian or healthcare professional to determine the appropriate level based on individual health status.

TIPS: Eat more fruits and vegetables, and LESS or even SKIP ANIMAL PROTEIN that can lower acid in your body and promote kidney health. STRETCH the protein you eat by using thinly sliced meats, and pack your plate and sandwiches with cucumbers, arugula, and veggies (think of veggies sandwiches, kebabs and vegetable rolls like summer roll for yummy treats)!

High PROTEIN (Kidney Disease or End Stage WITH Dialysis) Recommendations

In the advanced stage, when kidney function is severely impaired, and you are going through dialysis, you will need a HIGHER protein intake and ensure a high-quality protein in your diet.

Typically, 1 ounce of meat is = 7 grams of protein. Depending on your body, high protein can vary. Think of hard boiled eggs, egg salad sandwich, cottage cheese, and protein bars or protein shake as a snack.

Diabetic-Friendly Snacks

You also would like a low-Carb option, and balancing your carbohydrates on a renal diet. It’s important to pay attention to portion sizes, select foods with a low glycemic index (not making your blood sugar easily spike), and focus on a balanced combination of protein, healthy fats, and fiber to help stabilize blood sugar levels. 

My recommendations on diabetic friendly snacks include Greek yogurt (unsweetened) with a few fresh berries, cottage cheese with pineapple or peaches. You can also have low fat string cheese or cheese cubes with cherry tomatoes, sugar-free jello, avocado slices on a whole grain toast or with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Remember to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to tailor your renal diet based on your specific needs and stage of kidney disease. We can provide personalized recommendations that align with your dietary restrictions and health goals.

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