Establishing Healthy Eating Habits
People on dialysis can enjoy many different foods. Limiting certain foods can help ensure you stay healthy. Your meal plan is designed to meet your needs while controlling the buildup of harmful waste products. It is an important part of your treatment plan. Seeking support from your healthcare team, friends and family can help you be more successful. Eating well will help you feel better and improve your quality of life.
Five Meal Planning Tips for People on Dialysis
- Meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist that specializes in dialysis nutrition. Meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist is a great way to personalize a healthful eating plan that works for you.
- Aim to include a protein, grain, healthy fat, fruit and vegetable at each meal.
- Choose a palm-sized serving of lean protein such as chicken, eggs, turkey, fish, seafood, pork or beef.
- Whole grain cereals, old-fashioned oats, bread, English muffins, pasta, quinoa and rice can be incorporated into a kidney-friendly diet.
- Include small amounts of fat such as olive oil, vegetable oils, cream cheese or lower sodium salad dressings.
- Choose low-potassium fruits and vegetables including apples, berries, grapes, plums, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, lettuce, peas and peppers.
- Limit your meal time fluid to 1 cup (8oz).
- Some kidney-friendly beverages include water, seltzer, coffee, tea and lemonade.
- Limit your sodium (salt) intake by avoiding table salt, high-sodium sauces, packaged snacks, processed meats and canned goods.
- Preparing home-cooked meals can help you make healthier dietary choices.
Packed with Protein
Most people on dialysis need at least 8 to 12 ounces of protein per day. What does that look like? Use these size proportions as a reference:
- 1 oz. meat: Size of a matchbox
- 3 oz. meat: Size of a deck of cards or bar of soap
- 8 oz. meat: Size of a thin paperback book
- 3 oz. fish: Size of a checkbook
Healthy Hint: Avoid the Phosphates
Read food label ingredient lists to avoid hidden phosphate additives such as:
- Disodium phosphate
- Monosodium phosphate
- Sodium hexmetaphosphate
- Potassium tripolyphosphate
- Trisodium triphosphate
- Sodium tripolyphosphate
- Calcium phosphate
- Tetrasodium pyrophosphate
- Sodium phosphate
Cooking at Home vs. Eating Out
Even though you or a loved one might be on dialysis, it doesn’t mean you can no longer enjoy Saturday brunches or dining out on special occasions. Life on dialysis means you must be diligent when reviewing the menu — on the go and at home. Create a plan for healthier food options and indulge with confidence.
Benefits of Cooking at Home
- Healthier: Restaurants prepare food for taste, not health. Meals served at restaurants are often high in fat, calories, sodium and phosphorus.
- Avoid temptation: Over-indulgence is hard to avoid with so many choices of appetizers, fried foods and desserts offered at restaurants.
- Save money: Eating out is expensive. Preparing a grocery list and menu for the week can help keep you on a budget.
- Increase energy: Eating healthy at home gives you more energy to perform your daily activities. It also avoids that tired feeling you may get after eating a large meal at a restaurant.
Tips for Eating Out
- Plan ahead: Check out a restaurant’s menu/nutrition information outline.
- Don’t be afraid to ask: Ask your server for sauces/dressings on the side and if your meal can be prepared without added salt.
- Limit fluid: Ask your server not to refill your glass to prevent fluid overload.
- Watch portion sizes: Share with a friend, choosing an appetizer as your main course or taking half of your meal home.
- Substitute: Request rice/noodles as a side instead of potatoes.
- Desserts: Stay away from desserts made with chocolate, caramel, nuts or high potassium fruits.