When you have chronic kidney disease, managing what you eat and drink can be a challenge; however, it can positively influence how you feel and what other treatments you might need.

An Accredited Practising Dietitian experienced in kidney disease, called a renal dietitian, is the best person to consult about an individualised meal plan. The first step will be a dietary assessment to review your intake of energy and important nutrients.

Dietary assessment includes review of your intake of energy and important nutrients such as:

  • protein
  • sodium/salt
  • potassium
  • phosphate
  • fluid
  • fat

Dietary advice is given on a personal basis, taking into account what you like to eat, how you are feeling, your age, lifestyle, weight, muscle size, health status and blood test results.

As kidney disease progresses, your dietary needs are likely to change.

The initial dietary changes recommended might be small, but as your kidney disease progresses more significant changes may be required.

Here’s what you can do to get the most out of your appointment with a renal dietitian:

  • Over a number of days before your appointment, write down what you eat and take the list with you.
  • Take a list of your medications.
  • If someone else normally cooks for you, ask them to go with you.
  • Ask questions so that you feel confident about what you need to do and why.
  • Organise regular follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.

The Dietitians Association of Australia can provide names and contact details of local renal dietitians. Call 1800 812 942 or visit www.daa.asn.au and then ask your doctor to arrange a referral to your preferred dietitian.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Some people with chronic kidney disease do not feel like eating or have difficulty eating enough food to stay healthy.

Malnutrition can develop when food intake is inadequate and your body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. This is more common in the later stages of chronic kidney disease.

If you are losing weight that is not planned, or have any concerns about your diet, tell your doctor or renal dietitian.

Weight gain can also cause serious health problems. If you are overweight it can be harder to gain access for dialysis, and you may also not be suitable for a kidney transplant. If weight gain is a problem, your renal dietitian can help you plan an appropriate eating program.

Before taking any dietary supplements or starting a plan to lose or increase weight loss, always seek advice from your doctor or renal dietitian. Changes to your food and fluid intake may be serious and cause significant damage.

Links to fact sheets and other helpful information can be found in our Resource Library.

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