Ordering takeout: a guide for home dialysis patients


The days get hotter. The summer sun beckons. Firing up the oven sure doesn’t seem tempting. We get it – some days you just don’t feel like cooking. As a home dialysis patient on a chronic kidney disease-friendly diet, ordering takeout was complicated even before COVID-19. But with a little research and planning, you can order food without compromising your treatment.

How safe is takeout? 

This is a common question many individuals, especially those who are immunocompromised, have about restaurants in light of the pandemic. Current guidance from the FDA suggests it’s unlikely COVID-19 can spread through food. Your primary concern is contact with other people. That means you want to choose lower risk options like contactless food delivery or ordering takeout when a restaurant is less likely to be crowded.

Ultimately, the decision to order food from a restaurant depends on your personal comfort and risk levels. If you do place an order, wearing gloves and disinfecting the bag can help reduce the risk of virus transmission. Be sure to discard your gloves and wash your hand thoroughly before eating.

Selecting a restaurant

Most restaurants are not dialysis friendly. (We’re looking at you, fast food.) Your best bet is to identify restaurants where food is made to order. That way, the dishes can be modified to meet your needs. Stay away from establishments with extensive menus, including national chains – this is usually a sign that the food is premade. Local restaurants are more likely to make food to order and adjust the dish. A quick check of their website should be able to tell you if they employ a chef with culinary training. Some restaurants even describe their cooking methods and ingredient sourcing in detail. When in doubt, call and ask how the food is prepared.

Modifying your food

Chances are, you’ll need to make adjustments to how the meal you’re ordering is typically prepared to keep it compatible with your home dialysis treatments. Many restaurants serve large portions, so be prepared to split the meal with someone or save the leftovers.

You may need to call the restaurant to ask questions about how the food is prepared and to place your modified order. Here are a few adjustments you might need to make:

  • Ask them not to salt your food
  • Get sauces, dressings, and condiments on the side
  • Ask for no cheese, pickles, olives, or avocados
  • Swap corn tortillas for flour tortillas
  • If you absolutely must have a fountain drink, order the child size

In general, look for menu items that are high in protein, and low in sodium and phosphorous. Don’t forget to take your phosphorous binders since it’s tough to know how much phosphorous is actually in the food.


From all of us at Cincinnati Home Dialysis, we hope you and your loved ones are able to enjoy the pleasures of summer while keeping safe and healthy. For more information, follow the COVID-19 and home dialysis coverage on our blog.


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