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Renal Dietary Care

When your kidneys no longer work properly, waste products and fluids build up in your blood.

Although dialysis replaces the work load of your kidneys and removes these waste products, they still build up in your body between treatments. It's necessary therefore, that you stick to a specific diet in order to control the level and types of foods and fluids you intake each day. Generally, it's best to reduce intake of certain nutrients such as phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. This also means you will not want to use salt substitutes or products with potassium added to them. Unfortunately, many no salt added processed foods use potassium to give the food a "kick" to replace the missing salt. Trying to get food processors to understand that replacing one threat with another is not the way to go has been an uphill battle. So, be careful and read all labels before purchasing foods. We prefer to stick to fresh foods whenever possible.


Until you receive a personal diet plan from the dietitian at your dialysis center, here are some general renal diet guidelines to follow:
  • Do not add salt to your food. Season foods with herbs and non-salt type spices. Avoid salt substitutes, as they are loaded with potassium.
  • Include 2-3 servings of high quality protein foods daily (fresh non-brined lean meat, fish, poultry and eggs). One serving is generally 3 ounces. Limit to a total of 8 ounces daily. Natural cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss and colby may be used in small amounts. Swiss is lowest in sodium. No salt cheeses have added potassium. Avoid processed cheeses (American, Velveeta) and salted (this is nearly impossible since they add potassium, but standard Swiss is okay). Absolutely no canned or cured meats (Spam®). Fresh tuna may be used. It is a myth that rinsing it in water for a few minutes will lower the sodium level. We prefer no salt added canned tuna. See Canned Tuna to locate recommended tuna.
  • Limit milk, yogurt, ice cream or sherbet to just one 1/2 cup serving a day. Nondairy creamers such as Coffee Rich® or Mocha Mix® (up to one cup per day) can be used, but we recommend against them since most still use hydrogenated coconut or palm kernel oils. If the label states they are transfat free, then they're okay. Use milk instead.
  • Avoid most nuts, peanut butter, dried beans, seeds and lentils. These foods are high in potassium and phosphorus and they make more waste products in your blood. See: Potassium Sources.
  • Choose no more than 3 fruit servings each day. One serving is 1/2 cup or 1 medium fresh fruit. Choose from the list of low potassium fruits.
  • Limit vegetables to 2 servings each day. One serving is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup tossed salad. Use the low potassium vegetables listed or visit: Nutrient Lists and click on the food links in the left column.
  • Homemade, unsalted bread, tortillas, and no-salt-added type crackers can be used in moderation. Stay away from the salty snack foods such as crackers, pretzels and chips. Use no bran cereals, they are high in potassium. Cream of wheat, oatmeal and plain dry cereals are recommended.
  • Extra virgin olive oil and expeller pressed canola oils can be used for cooking. Margarine and mayonnaise are too high in sodium. You can make your own mayo by making our Yo Cheese and then adding some dill weed and touch of Splenda® or sugar. Use sugar, honey and syrup for added energy and calories but if you're diabetic, make sure to count your Carb Choices.
  • Limit fluids to no more than 6 cups or 48 ounces per day (8 ounces = 1 cup). Fluids are also in the foods we eat, but direct fluid intake should be with filtered water, coffee made with filtered water, tea, lemonade, and some fruit juices like cranberry. Carbonated beverages generally have high levels of phosphorous and potassium. Foods that melt or can melt are counted as fluids. Jello is high in sodium as are pudding products.
  • If you are diabetic, continue to eat meals and snacks at regular times and keep count of your Carb Choices or Exchanges. Cranberry juice is a good choice for insulin reaction, while orange juice is not, since it's high in potassium.

Sample Daily Menu

Please consult your renal dietitian for a personal renal diet suitable for you. Meanwhile here's a sample for you.


1 scrambled egg
2 slices homemade bread toast with homemade Yo Cheese spread on       it with light coating of fruit jam.
1/2 cup fresh fruit
1/2 cup 2% fat milk with added vitamin A
1 cup green tea or if allowed coffee or decaf coffee


Chicken sandwich: 2 oz freshly cooked, not deli
2 slices bread, lettuce & homemade Yo Cheese mayonnaise
1/2 cup coleslaw
1/2 cup fresh fruit (grapes, strawberries, blueberries, banana)
1 cup iced tea with lemon


4 oz grilled non-brined pork chop, lamb chop or non brined chicken
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup sauteed or steamed green beans
1/2 cup homemade applesauce
1 homemade bread (roll, bun, slice) 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup filtered water with lemon

Snack 1/4 cup no salt added pole caught Alaskan tuna salad
5-6 no salt crackers (homemade if you can)