Dietitian & Nutrition Consultation

What is diet and nutrition?

Diet refers to the food and drinks one regularly consumes. Nutrition refers to the act of nourishing or being nourished. To be nourished implies getting appropriate amounts of nutrients (i.e. protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water). Nutrition is what we need, and diet is how we choose to get it.

Why is diet important for kidney patients?

The word diet conjures in our minds the idea of a rigorous routine and saying no to food in general. However, it essentially requires understanding the needs of one’s body and choosing food accordingly. Adhering to the diet routine provided by your nutritionist is essential while undergoing renal treatment. A customized diet will help your kidneys function better when on dialysis and to manage your disease well.

What's a hemodialysis diet?

The hemodialysis diet is an eating plan tailored to patients who are on hemodialysis. It is designed to reduce the amount of fluid and waste that builds up between hemodialysis treatments so that you can feel your best.

What can I eat?

In addition to enjoying a variety of nutritious foods, the hemodialysis diet will introduce a higher amount of high-quality protein into your eating plan. Your dietitian will determine the amount. High-protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish and egg whites provide all the essential amino acids your body needs.

What can’t I eat?

Foods containing high amounts of sodium, phosphorous and potassium are restricted. Your dietitian will provide you with food lists that indicate which foods are allowed and which ones you should avoid or limit. You will also limit your fluid intake.

Why do I have to eat this way?

Your dietitian and doctor will strongly recommend you to follow the hemodialysis diet, so your dialysis treatments will be effective, you can feel your best, and help reduce the risk of health complications associated with kidney disease and dialysis.

How does the hemodialysis diet help?

Your hemodialysis diet will include a balance of nutrients to help keep your body healthy and strong, while allowing the amount of potassium, phosphorus and sodium your body can safely handle. Potassium is easily removed by dialysis, but when it builds up in the blood between treatments, it can cause muscle weakness and make your heart stop beating. Certain fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other foods that are high in potassium will need to be restricted from your diet. Phosphorus is difficult for hemodialysis to filter from the blood so it is important to limit foods that contain large amounts of the mineral. Phosphorus can build to high levels in the bloodstream and cause weak bones, heart problems, joint pain or skin ulcers. Your doctor may also prescribe a medicine called a phosphorous binder to help keep phosphorous levels normal. Sodium causes your body to hold onto more fluid and raises your blood pressure. Eating less sodium and drinking less fluid can help you feel comfortable before and after your dialysis sessions.

What about fluid intake?

Too much fluid gain between hemodialysis sessions can cause high blood pressure, discomfort including swelling and shortness of breath. Fluid intake is not limited to what you can drink; it is also hidden in some foods you eat, including curd, buttermilk, tea, coffee and other beverages, gelatine, ice, sherbet, watermelon, sauces, gravies and curries. Your dietitian will give you guidelines to help you monitor your fluid intake.

How long do I have to follow the hemodialysis diet?

You will follow the hemodialysis diet if you need hemodialysis. Your dietitian may make some changes to it to adjust to your current condition and activity levels.

How do I know if the hemodialysis diet is working?

There are various ways of knowing if the hemodialysis diet is working. One way is by how you feel before and after dialysis. By following the hemodialysis diet, sticking to your fluid allowance and taking your prescribed medicines, the build-up of waste and fluid will be minimal and you won’t feel ill. Your dialysis treatments won’t have to pull too much fluid from your body and you can avoid feeling weak or dizzy afterwards. Also, you may experience fewer health complications caused by too much phosphorus, sodium and potassium.
Another way to tell that the hemodialysis diet is working is by your target, or “dry”, weight. Your target weight is the weight your doctor thinks you would be when all the extra fluid is removed from your body. You will be weighed before and after your treatment to see how close you are to your target weight. Following your recommended fluid intake will keep you from going too high above your target weight. It’s normal for hemodialysis patients to gain fluid around 3 percent of their body weight between treatments.
Test results are the best way to see how well you’re doing on your diet and hemodialysis. Monthly laboratory tests are done to help your healthcare team evaluate you for anaemia, mineral balance, protein nutrition and adequacy of dialysis. Following your diet will help keep your test results within an acceptable range.
Your dietitian will also perform a nutrition assessment when you begin hemodialysis and at least yearly. Signs of nutrition problems, changes in weight and energy levels and any other problems will be checked. It will include an individualized nutrition plan of action.

If I follow the hemodialysis diet will my kidneys get better?

Your kidneys are already damaged and cannot be cured or reversed. However, the hemodialysis diet can help you feel your best between dialysis treatments and afterward.

What are the benefits of healthy eating to kidney patients?

If you eat a diet that is considered kidney-friendly, you are making your kidneys work less. A proper kidney diet regime has the potential to slow the progression of kidney damage. Some of the benefits of a renal friendly diet include:

  • Reduced load on kidneys and maintenance of residual function
  • Improved energy to perform day-to-day activities
  • Better infection control
  • Reduced symptoms such as itching, nausea, weakness
  • Improved muscle growth
  • Better control of conditions like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disease

Health tips for a kidney-friendly diet

When you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease or told that you need dialysis, you face making considerable changes to your everyday life, including starting a kidney diet. Here are three tips to help make a kidney diet fit into your life.

Tip 1 : Talk to a renal dietitian – Chart out a diet plan for yourself in consultation with your renal dietitian and physician. Be honest with your dietitian especially about your indulgences and favorite foods; that way both you and your dietitian can work out a plan including most of your likes and dislikes.

Tip 2 : Track your nutritional values – Kidney diet can get easier by tracking the nutritional values of what you consume. You can discuss your results with your dietitian to make sure you are within your target range for certain nutrients.

Tip 3 : Read labels when you go grocery shopping – Very often, we end up consuming food items oblivious of its nutrition values resulting in inappropriate eating habits. However, the best way to avoid this is to meticulously check the food labels when shopping for grocery. It is important to check out for food labels to view the sodium, potassium and phosphorus contents, as these are nutrients that should be limited when following a renal diet.

For more health tips Call 9019120000 to book an appointment with our renal dietitian.

Why should you consult a DaVita dietitian?

Healthy eating is an integral part of our dialysis care at DaVita. Our renal dietitians are available on call to guide you through a holistic diet plan.
At DaVita, our dietitian will work on your overall wellness, customizing a diet plan that suits you and your individual goals. Working closely with other specialists, we put together a balanced nutrition plan to bring you back in shape while ensuring that your sodium, phosphorous and potassium levels are in the 'safe' region.
In addition to renal diet planning, our dietician is also available for consultation for any health-related problems that requires nutritional assessment and guidance such as diabetes, obesity, or other health issue. As part of the DaVita team, our dietitian will work on your overall wellness, customizing a diet plan that suits you and your individual goals. Your diet plan will include:

  • Daily intake of micro and macronutrients
  • Diet schedule
  • Foods to avoid and foods to include
  • High protein diet
  • Recipes and lifestyle suggestions

For more kidney-friendly, delicious recipes click here »