Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of chronic kidney disease is the diet.  After you get past figuring out how you will schedule dialysis and what you need to do in order to have energy and strength, you find that diet plays a large role in making that happen.

Salt Restriction

It is common knowledge that too much salt isn’t good for you. However for dialysis patients high, sodium foods impact a dialysis patient immediately. Already plagued with water retention, something as simple as a slice of pizza or a bag of potato chips can cause dialysis patients severe ankle swelling or swelling in the abdomen causing shortness of breath.
Excess sodium also causes blood pressure to rise and cause headaches, mental dullness and a loss of energy. At its worse, hypertension (high blood pressure) can incite cardiac complications.

Phosphorus Restrictions

Who ever thought that potatoes would be something restricted on a diet? But they are a very special case when it comes to kidney disease. The kidneys filter waste from the blood and it is expelled through the urine. When your kidneys don’t function properly, one of the chemicals that don’t get filtered is phosphorus. Doctors prescribe phosphorus binders which make it so that phosphorus can be cleared in the stool rather than urine. However, the best option is to limit consumption of high phosphorus foods like nuts, organ meats, chocolate, cola drinks and beer.

Potassium Restrictions

An orange on the restricted list? For the same reason that phosphorus builds up in the blood stream for dialysis patients, potassium also builds up in the blood stream. Excess potassium can cause problems such as weakness, muscle cramps, tiredness, irregular heartbeat and, worst of all, heart attack. Potassium is found mostly in fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Certain fruits and vegetables are very high in potassium while others are lower. However, eating a large amount of a low-potassium food can cause potassium to add up to dangerous levels. Be aware that most foods contain some potassium — meat, poultry, bread, pasta — so it can add up. Butter, margarine and oils are the only foods that are potassium free.
Refer to the charts below from DaVita Dialysis, as simple reminders of which foods should be restricted and some suggested alternatives.

High potassium

High phosphorus

Double jeopardy —High potassium and high phosphorus

Fruits

Meat

Milk

Vegetables

Poultry

Dairy products

Fish and seafood

Nuts and seeds

Wild game

Chocolate

Eggs

Whole grain products

Dried beans and peas

Check the list below to see if you are eating any of the double jeopardy foods on the left. Using some of the alternatives listed on the right will help improve your chances of keeping potassium and phosphorus under control.

Double Jeopardy Foods (High Potassium & High Phosphorus)

Alternatives

Cheese

Vegan rella cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, sprinkle of parmesan cheese (use very small amounts of extra sharp cheeses for the maximum flavor)

Chocolate

Desserts made with lemon or apple, white cake, rice-crispy treats

Cream Soup

Broth-based soups made with pureed vegetables or make soups with Mocha Mix® nondairy creamer or Rich’s Coffee Rich®

Dried beans and peas

Green beans, wax beans

Ice Cream

Mocha Mix® frozen dessert, sorbet, sherbet, popsicles

Milk

Mocha Mix® nondairy creamer, Coffeemate®, Rich’s Coffee Rich®, Rice Dream® original, unenriched rice beverage

Nuts

Low-salt snack foods including pretzels,tortilla chips, popcorn, crackers, Sun Chips®

Peanut butter

Low-fat cream cheese, jam or fruit spread

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