Managing your diet with kidney disease

When living with chronic kidney disease, managing what you eat and drink can be a challenge; however, your diet can also 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 a 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.

Everyone should limit their salt, sugar and fat intake as part of healthy living.

As kidney disease progresses, your dietary needs are likely to change. Your kidneys will become less effective at removing unwanted fluid and managing the correct levels of nutrients such as calcium, phosphate and potassium.  

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

View our range of diet and nutrition fact sheets here or see how to see how to reduce your salt intake here.

If you are already on dialysis, see other useful diet and nutrition tips available here

How 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 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.

Tips on vitamins and minerals

If you’re not getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from the foods you eat, then vitamin and mineral supplements may be recommended or prescribed by your doctor or dietitian, depending on the stage of your kidney disease.

Usually a well-balanced diet will supply you with enough vitamins and minerals to keep you in good health. However, dialysis treatment will wash some water-soluble vitamins out of your body. 

When you’re on dialysis you should only take vitamin supplements that have been recommended for you, as certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful. It’s important for you to consult your doctor. 

Vitamins may be useful to supplement your health when you have or experience any of the following:

  • chronically poor or erratic eating habits
  • reduced appetite, nausea, vomiting
  • taste changes or food aversions
  • undesirable weight loss
  • food insecurity
  • vitamin loss during dialysis.

KidneyVital™ aims to supplement the key vitamins and trace elements, to help you live a more active life. It has been specially formulated by kidney specialists to provide the nutrients your body needs and excludes those ingredients that could be harmful to your health.

Nutritional characteristics of the five main food groups. Check this chart below for the nutrients and other significant components in the main food groups.

Nutrients and other significant components in the main food groups

Food group

Main nutrients

Other significant components

Bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles        

Carbohydrate, iron, thiamine 

Energy, protein, fat, fibre, magnesium, zinc, riboflavin, niacin equivalents, folate and sodium

Vegetables, legumes

Vitamin A (beta- carotene)

Carbohydrate, fibre, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, folate and potassium


Vitamins, especially vitamin C

Carbohydrate, fibre and folate

Milk, yoghurt, cheese

Calcium, protein

Energy, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, magnesium, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin B12, sodium and potassium

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes

Protein, iron, zinc

Fat, cholesterol, niacin equivalents and vitamin B12

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

Other helpful external links
Kidney friendly recipes - USA    
Kidney Kids - Living, Diet and Nutrition
Kidney Patient Guide UK  
Potassium in food  
Potassium and sodium food list in Australia  
Rediscovering Food and Flavours  
Spice It Up - Canada




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