If you have a loved one suffering from chronic kidney disease, you have to decide if you want to help that person. When YOU make good diet choices, you set an example for that individual.

“What does it Matter What I Eat or Drink? I’m not the Patient!”

When possible, every patient needs to take responsibility for his or her choices. However, constantly eating junk food around that individual will not help. How can a chronic kidney patient resist eating donuts, pizza with extra cheese, high-fat meat, or drink Coca-Cola when you’re doing it all the time? If you must eat starchy and fatty foods and drink sugary beverages, you may not want to do it around someone with an incurable kidney disease.

Also, keep this in mind:

 If you have someone on dialysis over for dinner, that person might not eat the same diet as you. He or she also probably will not drink the same amount of fluids they did in the past.

If you prepare meals for someone just starting kidney dialysis, keep these points in mind:

  • Too much fluid can cause shortness of breath. Not only will they drink less water than a healthy person, but they also must avoid eating too many watery fruits, frozen treats and gelatin desserts. All of these foods can contribute to water overload in their bodies. In the worst-case scenario, too much fluid may build up leading to difficulty in breathing. This is a potentially life threatening condition which may require hospitalization.
  • Calcium, phosphorous and potassium levels need careful monitoring. If a person with advanced kidney failure eats too little calcium, it could cause bone weakening and breakage. On the other hand, too much phosphorous can diminish calcium supply and cause itching. Therefore, patients need lower-phosphorous dairy products such as cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and tub margarine butter. Your loved one also can eat many other fruits and vegetables such as the following: onions, garlic, cauliflower, red bell peppers, broccoli, apples, cranberries, grapes, pears and blueberries. All of these are low in both phosphorous and potassium.  Too much potassium in a kidney patient can lead to abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Low-salt and low-sodium foods can help prevent fluid buildup and high blood pressure. Salt is a major factor in fluid and blood pressure problems and so  it’s helpful if they eat food with less salt. A lower-sodium diet causes them to retain less fluid. However, when making low-sat food choices, you also must realize they cannot use salt substitutes because such products contain too much potassium. Try using onion, garlic, cloves, chili powder, cumin or other flavorful spices.
  • Chronic kidney disease patients need to regulate dietary protein and iron. Persons with this condition have a low blood count, and so iron can be helpful in keeping blood cells at the right levels. Protein is also important in the right amounts based on the patients current stores – a dietician can monitor this by checking certain labs . A dietician will help each patient decide what meats and foods to eat. Some iron-rich substances are as follows: liver, beef, pork, chicken, lima and kidney beans, iron-fortified cereals, and eggs.

There’s no “One Size Fits All Diet” for Chronic Kidney Disease Patients

The one thing families need to remember the most is there’s no one size fits all diet. Every kidney failure patient has different needs. Therefore, make sure he or she eats a meal that’s right for them. A medical doctor, nutritionist or dietician can suggest the best foods for your loved one. From that, you’ll better be able to prepare the person’s meals. You also can find him or her the right kidney supplements when necessary.