When you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease, it can be scary and overwhelming, especially when you get on google and are told you can’t eat any of your favorite foods. Because nutrition goals for CKD can vary greatly from person to person we highly suggest meeting with someone to discuss your specific needs. However, we are here to also provide some meal ideas to reduce the stress around eating! Let’s talk breakfast for kidney disease. Breakfast can be an important meal to help ensure you are adequately nourished throughout the day and have more stable blood sugars. Try not to skip this meal! 
 

What To Consider with CKD 

Sodium

Once thing that we need to consider with eating breakfast with CKD is the sodium content. Frozen meals, breakfast meats, and restaurant meals can be pretty significant sources of sodium. When we aim for approximately 1800 mg per day, a typical goal for the meal should be 500-600 mg. Preparing your own meal can help keep the sodium more reasonable. Remember to pay attention to things like breads and condiments as they can be hidden sources of sodium! 
 

Protein 

Protein needs depend on the stage of kidney disease. We often focus on low protein for early stages of kidney disease. Once dialysis is started, we focus on high protein. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll discuss lower protein breakfast options for CKD stages 1-4. 
 
It may be helpful to not only reduce protein intake, but also to consider changing the source of protein. Plant proteins are a great option and I often recommend incorporating more plant based, vegetarian, or vegan meals. The one thing you may need to consider is the potassium and phosphorus content of those plant proteins. 
 

Potassium and Phosphorus 

The thing about potassium and phosphorus is that many people are fearful of these nutrients when they don’t need to be. If your potassium and phosphorus are (and have been) normal in your blood work, then your kidneys are appropriately regulating them and your intake does not need to change at this time.
 

Potassium 

Where potassium usually becomes a concern is with certain fruits and vegetables, as well as dairy. If your potassium is high, start with making some swaps for lower potassium fruits and veggies, and limiting your intake of cow’s milk dairy products. 
 

Phosphorus 

When phosphorus is high, a knee jerk reaction is to google foods high in phosphorus (whole grains, beans, and nuts are common culprits). However, these foods are high in naturally occurring phosphorus which is absorbed very differently than phosphorus additives. My first suggestion if phosphorus is high, would be to read the ingredients label for any word containing “phos”. This means phosphorus has been added and this type of phosphorus is absorbed more easily. Look for alternative options that do not contain phosphorus additives. 
 

So what does that mean for you?

Long story short, everyone’s nutrition needs are different when it comes to CKD and we can’t use a blanket approach to breakfast for kidney disease. Which can be difficult when making content like a blog. So if you’re reading this and you see something like nuts and your initial reaction is “I can’t eat that because my potassium is high!” Or breakfast cereal and your reaction is “I can’t eat that; it’ll send my blood sugar through the roof!” While these things may be true for you, it may not be true for everyone. If you’re struggling to meal plan for your specific needs, then a one on one conversation with a renal RD can be helpful, especially if you have another condition to manage, like diabetes!  
 

20 Breakfast Options if you have CKD:

Home Prepared Breakfast for Kidney Disease:

Tofu types of vegetarians, breakfast for kidney disease

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein

  • Scrambled egg, toast, butter, fruit
  • Smoothie with berries, nondairy yogurt, almond milk, ground flax, almond butter
  • Salmon cake with grits and fruit
  • Tofu Scramble with toast  
  • Toast with hummus, cucumber, Swiss cheese 
  • Baked Oatmeal  
  • French Toast 
  • Overnight Oats topped with jam and peanut butter 
  • Toast with Smashed Chickpeas 
 

Minimal Prep Breakfast for Kidney Disease:  

almond yogurt and berries renal diet snacks

  • Yogurt (cow’s milk or coconut yogurt like So Delicious), fruit, chopped walnuts
  • Cold cereal with almond milk or rice milk, berries, boiled egg
    • The type of cereal is going to be different based on your specific needs but for most people, Chex, Corn Pops, corn flakes, Puffed Rice are safe options. 
  • Cream of wheat with butter and berries
  • Oatmeal with cinnamon, dried cranberries, cinnamon, chopped pecans
  • Waffles with almond butter, blueberries, chia seeds
 

Convenience and Fast Food Breakfast for Kidney Disease: 

mcdonalds breakfast

Should you be eating fast food breakfast every day when you have CKD? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean you have to go hungry when running errands or traveling! 
 
  • Jimmy Dean Delights Canadian Bacon Egg White & Cheese English Muffin (690 mg sodium) 
  • Morning Star Farms Veggie Sausage Egg and Cheese Sandwich (620 mg sodium) 
  • McDonalds Egg McMuffin (770 mg as is; you can reduce it by about 200 mg of sodium by ordering without cheese OR another 200 mg of sodium without Canadian bacon ) 
  • McDonalds Fruit & Maple Oatmeal 
  • Chickfila Greek Yogurt Parfait + Fruit Cup 
  • Taco Bell Cheesy Toasted Breakfast Burrito with Sausage (770 mg sodium) 
 
If you’re struggling with your appetite, or not getting in enough calories, you can add medical shakes like Ensure or Boost. If your potassium and/or phosphorus are high, try Suplena instead! Now for breakfast with kidney disease, when you have low appetite, eat what you can then finish with a shake for extra calories, or blend the shake with additional fruit, ice, and a spoonful of nut butter to make a calorie dense shake. 
 

More Renal Friendly Meal Ideas

 
 
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An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.