Renal diets are varied depending on the type and stage of renal disease. Diets are individualized and are usually lower, although sometimes higher, in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, fluid, protein and energy. Kidney conditions requiring a modified diet can include acute or chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, diabetic nephropathy, peritoneal or hemodialysis.
Lower Sodium Meal Ideas
Frequently, renal diets are lower in salt. To enhance the flavor of food without adding salt, try unsalted herbs and spices, lemon, vinegar and salt-free flavoring versus salt substitutes. However, salt-free substitutes can also be high in potassium, which is controlled for certain renal diets. Choose fresh or frozen foods more often and always check the sodium content on labels of packaged foods. A Daily Value percentage of 5 percent or less is low, and a daily value percentage of 20 or more is considered high in sodium.
Potassium, Phosphorus and Fluids
Some nutrients are restricted in a renal diet, such as potassium. Higher potassium foods include many fruits, vegetables and whole grain products. A registered dietitian can provide lists detailing high and low potassium choices, and how many of each choice can be consumed daily.
Many patients are instructed to lower phosphorous levels. Foods higher in phosphorus include whole grains, dairy, legumes, shellfish, bran, chocolate, soft drinks and beer. Check with a dietitian to see if these foods can be consumed in limited amounts.
To consume smaller amounts of fluids during meal, use smaller cups for beverages, snack on ice cubes versus drinking water, and measure fluid allowances in a pitcher early in the day. Once fluids are consumed, empty the same amount from the pitcher to ensure fluid restrictions are kept in place.
Specialized renal cookbooks are a great way to increase menu and diet variety. "Food Power- A Nutrition Book for Kids with Kidney Disease" by Charlotte Stall, a registered dietitian, features kid friendly recipes with nutrient analysis. It also has answers to child nutrition questions, such as cooking for picky eaters and what to serve overweight children. Another renal cookbook is "Magic Menus- Menu Style Cookbook for Renal Patients" by the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas. This cookbook has a variety of recipes and three weeks of sample menus. Another cookbook specifically for renal diets is "The Renal Gourmet." Written by Mardy Peters, a kidney patient, it includes over 200 no-salt recipes with herbs, spices and vinegars.