Taking Control- Diet Changes on Dialysis

Welcome! We strive to help people transform their journeys and elevate their spirits in style with our dialysis shirts. We design dialysis shirts for everyday use, so you don’t have to change clothes for treatment. 

Hillary and I (Jennifer) are Dialysis Nurses living in Oregon. We have spent much time listening to dialysis patients tell us what their needs are and what they find the most difficult to deal with when reliant on dialysis. Our priority is producing our line of dialysis shirts and dialysis clothing, but we realized we have so much more to share.

On our community page you will find interesting articles and resources that include tips and facts that can help you to take ownership of your chronic disease process. Benefits of becoming more knowledgeable about your condition include having an easier time talking with your dialysis team (nephrologist, social worker, dietician, patient care technician, and nurses), improving your overall health, and feeling more in control of your life.

One of the most important things you can immediately take control of is what types of foods you eat. Today we will discuss some basics about diet and kidney dysfunction and failure. 

As you probably already know there are five stages of kidney disease. Until you reach stage five, or End Stage Renal Disease, dialysis is not necessary. When you begin dialysis you may still have some remaining kidney function. One way to make sure you preserve the kidney function that you have and prevent further damage to your body is by choosing the right types of food. The kidneys when functioning properly are very efficient filters and rid our body of toxic substances and waste. When not functioning well certain minerals such as sodium, potassium, and phosphorus build up in your body. 

Signs and symptoms of the buildup of these minerals in our bodies include water retention, abnormal heart rhythms, and dry itchy skin that can sometimes lead to blisters, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and high blood pressure. The best way to avoid these symptoms is to know the types of foods that are high in these minerals and substitute other safer foods. Your doctor may prescribe medication that helps to rid the body of these minerals as well.

Below is a list of food swaps that you can do easily to reduce your intake of Sodium, Phosphorous and Potassium. This list has been compiled by Davita, a leader in Kidney care and dialysis.

Sodium swaps

Fresh vegetables Canned or processed vegetables
Frozen vegetables (use low-sodium seasonings) Frozen vegetables in cheese, butter or garlic sauce
Homemade marinades or dressings Commercially prepared marinades or dressings
Reduced-sodium condiments or snacks High-sodium condiments or snacks

Phosphorus swaps

Rice milk (unenriched), non-dairy creamers or sour cream without phosphate additives Milk, yogurt, cheese or processed cheese products
Lemon-lime soda, homemade iced tea, root beer, apple cider or spiced cranberry juice Dark cola, bottled and canned beverages with phosphate additives or hot cocoa
Jam, jelly, honey, margarine or butter Peanut butter or other nut butter spreads
White or wild rice, white or whole wheat pasta or macaroni, grits, couscous, buckwheat, bulgur or pearled barley Brown rice, amaranth, millet, quinoa, spelt
Fresh or fresh frozen meats, fish or poultry Processed or enhanced meats, fish or poultry

Potassium swaps

Apples, berries, grapes, peaches or pineapple Bananas, oranges, kiwi, cantaloupe or honeydew
Mashed potatoes or hash browns (soak and boil to reduce potassium) Baked potato or french fries
Onion, bell peppers, mushrooms or garlic Tomatoes, tomato sauce or chili sauce
Vanilla- or lemon-flavored desserts Chocolate desserts
Healthy Food Swaps for a Kidney Diet. (n.d.). DaVita. Retrieved October 7, 2022,
from https://www.davita.com/diet-nutrition/articles/basics/healthy-food-swaps-for-a-kidney-diet

If managing these diet changes feels overwhelming, there are great resources that make it simple. Below are a couple that our patients have found helpful.

The Magic Kitchen

The Magic Kitchen specializes in dietary specific and senior meals. If you are on a learning curve, don’t know how yet to put together recipes, are too busy, or just don’t feel up to going grocery shopping or prepping your own meals this could be the answer for you from time to time. They offer a Renal Diet for stages three and up. You can find out more information about this program at www.magickitchen.com or you can call 877-516-2442.

Jonathan Diaz- Dialysis Dietician

Jonathan Diaz is a Registered Dietician in the Los Angeles area who works with dialysis patients every day. He is helping people with End Stage Kidney Disease to not only live with their diagnosis, but to thrive, by developing delicious, healthy, simple recipes that are dialysis-friendly. But he isn’t stopping there, he is also creating instructional videos about how to cook each recipe!  Learn more about him in our blog post.

Plant Based Kidneys

Michelle Crosmer is a Registered Dietician who loves cooking, tailoring recipes, and helping people discover how to preserve their kidney function with plant based nutrition. If you prefer a plant based diet this will be a great resource for you. If not, there is still an abundance of helpful information available on her website that applies to all people on dialysis.

Look for more interesting blogs coming your way. We encourage you to share any comments or questions that you have. We will be more than happy to answer, and it may also give us ideas for future blogs. Let us know what’s on your mind. 

It’s all about elevating your SPIRIT, while going on this JOURNEY in STYLE. Check out our dialysis shirts and other dialysis treatment essentials available in our shop. Scroll to the bottom of the page to join our email list to be notified about our future posts and learn more ways to improve your life on dialysis!

-Jennifer and Hillary

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