As children are still growing and developing, it is important to ensure they are receiving proper nutrition. For children with kidney disease, the added pressure of restricting certain foods in their diet may overwhelm families and place strain on the eating relationship. By working with a dietitian, families can discover creative and positive ways of eating together and staying healthy.
Here are some tips to navigate healthy eating for children with kidney disease:
- Include sources of protein. Protein is important during childhood for growth and development to maintain strong muscles and bones, and proper functioning of organs and blood. Here are some protein sources that you can pack into your child’s lunch:
- Hummus & fresh vegetables from the garden or farmers market
- Yogurt, seasonal summer berries and fruit with granola with seeds
- BBQ Sliders (chicken, beef, tofu) – check out this previous summer blog for a great burger recipe – It’s a must try!
- Create healthy habits for you and your child. Sudden changes in diet, treatments, frequency of doctor’s visits, and lifestyle changes that comes with chronic kidney disease (CKD) can feel overwhelming for your child. Developing healthy habits and a structured routine with your family can help maintain a sense of security and eating confidence.
Here are some tips to guide you towards developing everyday healthy habits for you and your family:
- Try not to revolve your child’s life around kidney disease, rather focus on their successes at school and play.
- Have a schedule and stick to it. For example, ensure your child is bringing a water bottle to all their activities and drinking enough fluids throughout the day, especially if they are out in the sun. Children are often too busy to remember the importance of hydration, so offering fluids often is helpful. Keeping extra water bottles in the car or bag helps as a reminder.
- Work around CKD instead of making it the focus. This can reduce the amount of stress for you and your child. There are plenty of foods that are healthy for the kidneys so consider making a grocery list with your children that you bring with you each time you shop together. Special trips to your local farmers market during the summer is a great activity for the entire family.
- Encourage children to stay active and talk about the importance of regular exercise – give children plenty of time and space to move and play freely. Summer fun in parks, pools and hikes makes exercise and playtime synonymous.
- Let your child be involved in his or her own care as much as possible. This empowers them by encouraging a sense of control. Let your child choose from the fruit and vegetable aisle, involve them in meal preparation, and ask them to help set the table for a family meal.
See below for some kidney-friendly recipes that your child will be sure to love!
Tuna salad and low sodium crackers
Tuna salads are quick way to prepare a tasty and protein packed snack. It can easily be packed separately and taken to school or summer camp!
Summer zucchini “lasagna”
This reinvented lasagna is perfect for a summer dinner – and the vegan cheese is surprisingly cheesy!
Tortilla Pizza with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, Shrimp and Basil
Pizzas are a sure crowd-pleaser: children AND adults love them. With this low potassium, low phosphorus and low sodium tortilla pizza, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating pizza. Enjoy this fun and tasty meal!
Submitted By Hanna Kim, Jennifer Synder, Nutrition Students and Dani Renouf, RD, MSc, CDE