The Kidney Diet


When I got out the hospital last year, the first thing my mom did was go through my kitchen. She threw away all of the salt, and my heart sank as she tossed my ice cream. {More on my love of ice cream later} So I'm sure you're wondering why an otherwise sane woman would do something so heinous? The kidney diet....

I have to be careful about four big things: fluid, sodium, phosphorous, and potassium. Last year I asked a doctor some diet questions. His answer was something like "you can fix too much sodium and phosphorus, but potassium? That's what'll kill you." While I definitely don't appreciate his bedside manner, it motivated me to be careful and do some research. Potassium affects your heart function. So if your kidneys aren't well enough to regulate it, it could be bad news. You can find high potassium in foods like tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, oranges, whole grains, and many other fruits and veggies. This one is a tough-one because I LOVE potatoes (baked, mashed, french fried-I don't discriminate), and because it is high in healthy foods.

Phosphorous is also a doozy. Phosphorous is why my mother threw out my ice cream. Dairy items tend to be high in this which is unfortunate because I have an ice cream and cheese (not together) habit. It's basically in everything. Because of this, I was prescribed a "phosphate binder," a pill that I have to take with every meal. When phosphorus is high it can lead to bone disease with brittle bones as well as itchy skin.

Sodium. This is one everyone probably already knows something about. High sodium can lead to swelling and higher blood pressure. I try to keep my sodium intake to 2000mg per day. So this number sounds high, but if you have a Chick-fila breakfast biscuit, a Jimmy Johns turkey sandwich lunch, and bowl of chicken noodle soup from Panera for dinner, you're at almost 4000mg (without snacks, sides, or drinks)! These were/are a few of my favorite places, but I try to refrain from fast food these days.

The last thing is fluid. As you probably know your kidneys filter the fluid in your body. If they're not working, that fluid has no where to go. I try to stick to a 32 ounce fluid restriction. When I first started learning about the kidney diet, I was so discouraged. Now, I have my cheats every once in a while (usually grilled cheese, Chipotle, or pizza), but it's really become a habit and a way of life. When I get my shiny new kidney, I will probably still stick to a similar diet.

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