Summer Picnic and BBQ Tips with CKD

Spring picnic with waffles in blooming garden

Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN 

Photo by Svitlana on Unsplash

Attending picnics and BBQs in the warmer months is a quintessential part of summer. With the nice weather around the corner, you may be wondering how you can participate in these celebrations with kidney disease. Depending on your dietary needs, you can use the tips and tricks below to help you plan for kidney-friendly meals at any celebration. 


Choosing plant-based proteins instead of animal-based proteins can be beneficial for kidney disease. At picnics and BBQ look for ways to incorporate plant-based proteins into your dishes like adding chickpeas to a salad, grilling tofu or tempeh instead of a hamburger. If choosing animal proteins, aim for a small portion (about the size of your palm) to help keep portion sizes in mind when eating out.  


Often sauces, seasonings, marinades and condiments can be sources of sodium. Remember to read the label and aim for foods with less than 5% Daily Value for sodium per serving for buns, dips, and sauces. Be cautious when adding pickled items to your sandwiches or salads as these can be high in sodium.  Look for no added salt products like tortilla or potato chips or try serving unsalted popcorn or pretzels instead. Nutrient content claims such as “no added salt” and “low sodium” can help you choose kidney-friendly products.  


If you need to follow a potassium restriction, opt for lower potassium fruits or vegetables on your plate. For example serve fruit salads with watermelon, grapes and pineapple. Grill up some lower potassium vegetables like bell peppers, onions, and eggplant. Serve up a side salad like coleslaw or a mixed green salad.  


Avoiding phosphorus additives can help to keep your bones strong. These are found in processed foods like buns, dips, condiments, and meats like hot dogs and deli meat. Remember to read the food label and look for “PHOS” in the ingredient list to identify those phosphorus additives

What to choose at summer picnics and BBQ events with CKD 

The best strategy when eating at events is to build a kidney-friendly plate. Remember to aim for a variety of colours from vegetables and fruit when eating, choose low potassium if needed. The fibre from these foods helps to keep you full and provides you with different vitamins needed in the diet. Opt for low sodium options for proteins and side dishes, be mindful of seasonings and dressing, perhaps try making them at home. Be mindful of protein portions and choices, aim to include more plant-based options when possible. Be sure to enjoy the time with friends and family.