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Renal Dietitian


A renal dietitian is a highly educated in food and nutrition and specializes in the dietary needs of people with chronic kidney disease. Because the kidney diet is highly specialized, renal dietitians have more training in how diet affects kidney function, bones and the heart.
There are different labs that are monitored each month by the dietitian. With these results the RD can determine if dietary changes are warranted. The goal is for the dialysis patient have optimal nutritional status in order to feel better, have a better quality of life, and be the healthiest possible! These are a few of the main values that can be directly affected by your food intake.
The first laboratory value we check is ALBUMIN. This is how we measure your protein stores. We like for this number to be high. Therefore it is imperative that protein is a priority in the diet. Sources include low sodium (unprocessed) meats such as beef, fresh pork, fish, and game meat such as deer. If albumin remains low with decreased intake, your dietitian can assist you with finding a supplement that can help improve your albumin (such as liquid supplements, shakes, protein bars, etc). Please consult with your dietitian first to ensure the supplement you choose is appropriate for your renal diet, based on your lab values at that time.

The next value is PHOSPHORUS. This value needs to be monitored and limited in foods in order to prevent issues with bone disease. High levels can cause rocky deposits in joints, vessels, and skin. High phosphorus foods include dairy products, dried beans/peas, nuts, chocolate, and dark-colas beverages (as phosphates are used as preservatives). Medications called phosphate binders are sometimes used to help keep these levels down.
Also, POTASSIUM has to be kept at appropriate levels in order to keep your muscles, including your heart, working well. Foods high in potassium include bananas, oranges (and their juice), tomatoes, potatoes (that have not been boiled first like baked potatoes, French fries, and potato chips), nuts, chocolate, avocados, dairy products, melons, spinach, dried beans/peas, lima beans, and lentils.
The diet for kidney disease is very specific, and it can seem overwhelming at times. However, that’s what your dietitian is for! The dietitian can assist you with identifying foods that ARE allowed on your diet, and that you also enjoy, and keep you healthy!

Here are 15 foods that you should likely limit/avoid

Here are 15 foods that you should likely limit/avoid on a renal diet based on either high potassium, high sodium, or high phosphorus content—be sure to check with your dietitian. Depending on your labs, foods that are “typically” not allowed, may be worked into your diet plan.

  1. Avocados
  2. Canned soups
  3. Whole grain foods
  4. Dairy (limit to 1 serving per day-- 1 cup milk or 1 oz cheese)
  5. Oranges and orange juice
  6. Processed Meats
  7. Potatoes (that have not been boiled first)
  8. Sweet potatoes
  9. Nuts
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Dried fruit
  12. Canteloupe
  13. Honeydew
  14. Watermelon

Helpful Tips

  1. Establish a good relationship with your dietitian and ask questions!
  2. Follow your prescribed diet as best as you can.
  3. Take your medications as prescribed.
  4. Come to all you dialysis treatments, and stay your full treatment time.