Dietitian Services for Kidney Disease Patients & Transplant Patients
“Well, what can I eat?”
Every Dietitian has heard these words and every kidney patient has said them. So much so that it is often referred to as the Low-Everything diet:
- Low Potassium
- Low Phosphorus
- Low Sodium
- Low Fluid
- Controlled Protein
Put this way, the renal diet has an incredibly negative connotation.
It is time for a new, updated and positive program of good eating that will allow the person with kidney failure to live well with chronic illness and its treatment. Dealing with Chronic Kidney Disease and Kidney Failure is an intense journey that involves many lifestyle changes, including dietary changes. This is where a visit to a dietitian can offer you information, support, and hope in your journey toward good food choices.
Just what can a dietitian do for you? They have a specialized degree in dietetics are required to pass a national exam to be deemed a Registered Dietitian (or RD). Your dietitian is an active part of our medical team during pre-ESRD treatment and transplantation. The Registered Dietitian can enable and empower patients to feel in control of their own health. With a little help from the Registered Dietitian, a little moderation, and a little planning, you can feel in control of your diet and still enjoy meals by making good food choices.
We as well as the experts on the psychology of eating all know that when restrictions are placed on food, what a person will want most is always the forbidden food. No one should have to deprive themselves of their comfort or favorite foods. With this in mind, you can discuss the foods you like with your Dietitian who can assist you in developing a meal plan to fit your preferences and your lifestyle. With the knowledge of appropriate portion sizes, rarely is there a forbidden food.
It is essential to know your monthly lab values so you can make good food choices. It is important to become well versed in the amounts of potassium, phosphorus, protein, and sodium found in the foods you eat. Always make an effort to know and understand your potassium level and how much potassium is in certain fruits and vegetables.
With this knowledge, you can work with the Dietitian to schedule a cheat-time for your favorite high-potassium food. Your dietitian has many tricks up her sleeve, such as using nondairy creamers as a substitute for milk on cereal or freezing grapes to help control thirst. Remember, one renal diet does not fit all.
Discuss your degree of dietary flexibility with the renal dietitian. With a “special diet,” you may feel different from your family and friends. In order to avoid becoming a “short-order cook,” the dietitian can help develop meal ideas that are healthy for you and your family. You may want to involve your family or close friends in developing healthier eating habits and meeting with the Registered Dietitian.
“Eating Out – Now What?”
Not only can the dietitian help you make good food choices at home, she can also offer ideas for dining out, parties, and potlucks. Plan, plan, plan ahead!
Become familiar with the restaurants you frequent. Ask how a food is prepared or ask that it be prepared without salt. Your new knowledge or potassium and phosphorus will come in handy here. Restaurant food can be loaded with salt. Your new knowledge of potassium and phosphorus will come in handy here. Restaurant food can be loaded with salt, causing thirst and excess fluid intake. The servers only think they are being nice by refilling your glass! Simply let them know you’ve had plenty to drink.
You may want to call ahead to ask about the selection of foods they offer. For parties and potlucks that you feel could be challenging, you may want to eat a small meal at home beforehand so as to not indulge once the festivities begin. You can also bring a few “kidney-friendly” dishes using recipes from your Registered Dietitian. Another great source for recipes is www.ikidney.com.
By working with your Registered Dietitian you can relieve the anxiety about dining out!
With 15,000 – 20,000 new food products hitting the market each year, including green ketchup and oatmeal made for women, it is important to utilize your Registered Dietitian for the most current and reliable nutrition information.
Keep an ongoing list of diet-related questions for your dietitian. This will make you visit more productive and you will find answers to your daily food questions. You can also discuss any new foods or supplements with your Registered Dietitian before delving into the unknown.
Your Registered Dietitian is trained and experienced to help you discover what you can eat and the proper amounts. Living well means eating well. Utilize the dietitian to find ways to include your favorite foods in your diet, understand your monthly lab values, and create new ideas for eating out or at home. The renal dietitian is there for you and will help you in your journey toward good food choices.