By Laura Quenneville, RD
If You were diagnosed with a kidney disease, that means that your kidneys are not filtrating your blood as they were when working at 100%. One of the kidney’s roles is to make sure waste coming from digested food you eat is eliminated through the urine. You may need to help your kidneys keep you safe and as healthy as possible by limiting or even eliminating some food from your diet.
A Kidney diet can be one of the most restrictive diets, restricting potassium, phosphorus, sodium, protein, and fluids. This does not include carbohydrates if you have diabetes or saturated and trans-fat if you have high cholesterol.
This can be overwhelming to some. Disease burnout is a diagnostic and is real. You are not alone; your medical and healthcare team is there to help you.
Here are 5 tips to help you manage your day if you must follow multiple dietary restrictions:
- Short and Simple
The ingredient list should include the least ingredients possible. Simple and non-processed foods are likely to contain lower amounts of additives. These additives (phosphorus or potassium) are usually absorbed 70-100% by the body, meaning they will increase your serum phosphate and/or potassium. Simple also means less sodium most of the time.
- Cook more at home
Using fresh ingredients to prepare your own meals gives you more control over what you eat. You are the one who decides what you put in your recipe: quality and quantity. Herbs and spices will add flavor even more when they are fresh!
- Lower your meat intake
Animal proteins are known to have high bioavailable phosphorus and potassium when compared to plant-based proteins. Some studies have shown that replacing even just 1 meal per week with a plant-based protein instead of animal protein will help lower serum phosphate and potassium over time. Plant-based protein does contain phosphorus and potassium, but we don’t absorb it as well (less bioavailable). We are talking about 40-60% absorption. Read this blog post to learn more: Phosphorus Bioavailability
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
Eating more fiber will help with the regularity of your bowel movement. One of the causes of hyperkalemia is constipation. Managing constipation helps improve your serum potassium. As simple as that. We do encourage the consumption of a variety of low-potassium fruits and vegetables daily. Most patients with chronic kidney disease have low bicarbonate in their blood. Eating the right number of fruits and vegetables for you might also help correct metabolic acidosis which helps protect what’s left of your kidney function.
- Plan your week ahead
Using a kidney-friendly grocery list might be helpful to plan your week. You can first decide what recipes you would like to cook based on weekly deals at your favorite grocery store. Then, make a list of food you are allowed to eat, go shopping, and start cooking!
The Kidney Community Kitchen website offers great options to help you plan ahead. You can select the food restrictions that apply to you and get recipes that fit within your meal plan.
Don’t forget to also connect with your nephrology team and dietitian, they might have a few tips for you as well.
Plant-Based Diets for Kidney Disease: A Guide for Clinicians, Joshi and collab, Am J Kidney Dis. 2021 Feb;77(2):287-296