By Staci Hemesath, Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition, Registered Dietitian
The renal diet has lists. Lots and lots of lists. While they seem simple enough to dietitians, they are confusing and overwhelming to patients. Patients want menus. They want personalized advice. They want help. And they need it.
The problem is that most renal dietitians are covering multiple dialysis clinics over a large geographic area, and it has become increasingly difficult to provide individualized menus to patients, taking into account food preferences, budget, time, and dietary prescriptions. Yet, we are ultimately responsible for patients’ lab outcomes.
So, how can renal dietitians help patients plan kidney-friendly meals and navigate this intricate web of a diet, in the most efficient, effective way possible?
Here are some resources and tips you can share with your patients or use in your practice:
- Online Menu Planning Tools: One option is www.davita.com/diethelper , which provides customized meal plans from a database of over 1,000 recipes (If a patient isn’t Internet-savvy, offer to guide them through it, and provide printed copies of meal plans.)
- Kidney Diet App: Download on a Smartphone that will track daily intake (e.g. KidneyDiet)
- Home-Delivered Meal Service: Refer patients to a service that offers renal-friendly meals, such as Mom’s Meals NourishCare, which offers a renal dietitian-approved menu specially designed to support those with kidney disease.
- Prepare Extra Food: Prepare large batches of favorite kidney-friendly recipes and freeze leftovers for later use. Best to do on days when they have more energy.
- Network with other kidney patients, either in person or online, and share meal planning strategies, recipes and even grocery store circulars with kidney-friendly sale items.
- Cookbooks & Recipes: Recommend the purchase of a kidney-friendly cookbook and/or offer copies of tried and tested recipes in your office or dialysis clinic. You may even want to feature recipes during a sampling day.
Living with chronic kidney disease is an immense burden. Adhering to a strict diet is one of the most difficult aspects of the disease. For most, it is a life or death matter. Helping our patients plan enjoyable menus and inspiring them to try new recipes or sign up for a renal-friendly meal service will not only enhance their quality of life, but it may actually save their life.