When we think of a basic healthy diet it's all about the whole grains and fruits and veggies. Imagine being told 'that' sort of healthy diet, just isn't healthy for you! Dialysis patients need to limit their intake of potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and monitor protein. These nutrients are in those healthy whole grains and many fruits and veggies! In fact, a renal diet can seem limited and downright backwards. So in order to better understand what your friends or patients may be going through, I've compiled the basics of a renal diet. But first... a few of my photo favorites from my Davita rotation:

  • Limit Potassium: too much can affect your heart beat!

Avoid potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, cantaloupe, avocado, oranges. Summer is often referred to potassium season in Virginia because many gardens are filled with these 'no-no' items. If patients really crave something like a potato, there is the option to use a process called 'leeching' (soaking in water) to remove most of the potassium.

  • Limit Phosphorus: too much can pull calcium out of your bones and deposit it in soft tissue causing 'calcification'.

This can seem like the hardest restriction for most people because it means no cheese. And no colas (except root beer). And ice cream...sigh. Another thing to watch out for is 'enchanced' meats. Fast food meats are very high in phosphorus preservatives and patients are told that if they eat fast food chicken, they need to take twice the amount of binders to handle it.

  • Keep your protein up: to avoid malnutrition and keep bones strong.

Eat 6-8 oz of quality protein every day from sources like chicken, lean beef, and eggs. The albumin lab values will help the dietitian tell how well the patient is eating. A low albumin level can be caused by poor intake.

  • Limit fluid intake: too much fluid can cause edema and shortness of breath.

Patients are usually on a fluid restriction of 32 ounces. That's only 4 cups a day! But remember, most people on dialysis have limited or absolutely no kidney function, so all fluid must be taken off with the 'mechanical kidney'. If people accumulate too much fluid treatment can take longer.

  • Limit Sodium: can cause high blood pressure.

No table salt allowed! Patients also need to watch for sneaky sources of sodium in processed foods and opt for low sodium options whenever possible.

*Keep in mind that Peritoneal dialysis patients have less restrictions than Hemodialysis patients because they undergo treatment more frequently.*

Need to plan a renal diet? I think they are the most difficult of all! Use the Davita diet planner to make your life easier.