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 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.

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

Fruit

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

Check out our 'Recipe of the Month'

Each month, we feature a kidney-friendly recipe in our e-newsletter to inspire you in the kitchen and add some spice to your renal diet.

Join our Kidney Community and get nutrition tips, wellbeing information and more, sign up here

Pavlova

Pavlova - Kidney Health Australia

Pavolva

Serves 6

Ingredients:

4 egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

125g castor sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp vinegar

2 tsp corn flour

2 punnets strawberries

200ml thickened cream, whipped

Extra tsp vanilla essence

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 150’C
  • Beat egg whites with cream of tartar for 4-5 minutes gradually beat in sugar
  • Add vinegar and vanilla; beat until peaks form
  • Lightly fold sifted corn flour into mixture
  • Pile mixture onto moistened ovenproof plate (do not handle too long)
  • Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool inside the oven. 

Topping:

  • Beat cream with extra tsp vanilla essence
  • Decorate pavlova when cool with strawberries and whipped cream
  • Cut into 6 pieces

Serving suggestions:

Serve with low potassium fruit as an alternative.

Nutritional profile per serve:

Energy                  679kJ

Protein                 4g

Fat                        6g

Carbohydrate     24g

Sodium                 47mg

Potassium           112mg

Phosphate           27mg

Get more receipes like this in our Back on the menu cookbook.

Spicy Beef Skewers

Spicy Beef Skewers

Spicy Beef Skewers

Spice up your BBQ menu with our Spicy Beef Skewers recipe from our Dining In: Delicious Dialysis Recipes and Meals recipe book

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Skewers

600g lean beef mince

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/3 cup fresh white breadcrumbs (make in food processor, blender or finely chopped)

½ tsp ground paprika

¼ tsp ground chilli

Sprinkle of ground pepper

1 whole egg, lightly beaten

1 tbs olive oil

Yoghurt Mixture

200g low fat natural yoghurt

¼ cup mint leaves

¼ cup grated cucumber

  • Soak 8 bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes then drain.
  • Combine mince, garlic, breadcrumbs, paprika, chilli, egg and pepper in bowl. Mix well then divide into 8 portions.

Method:

  • Shape each portion into a 12-15cm long sausage and thread each onto a skewer
  • Cook on the BBQ or pan with oil, turning until each side is brown and meat is cooked through
  • To make the yoghurt, combine yoghurt, mint and cucumber
  • Serve skewers with yoghurt, and your choice of kidney friendly salad, vegetables or rice.

Nutritional profile per serve for beef skewers and yoghurt dressing:

Energy 1390kJ
Protein 30g
Fat 18g
Carbohydrate 6g
Potassium 700mg
Phosphate 400mg
Sodium 175mg

 

Share your best recipe!

We’d love to know your favourite kidney friendly recipe. Tag us on social media in a photo of your kidney friendly meal for a feature!

Don’t have social media? Email us at careteam@kidney.org.au

Health & wellbeingFitness
Join our community to download
 

Register to download PDF

Your Details