The type of home dialysis you choose will affect how restricted your diet is. Generally, with more frequent dialysis treatments, you have a bit more freedom in your eating habits, as your blood gets filtered more often. Your renal dietitian will guide you with a personalized plan of foods to eat and avoid based on your health and type of home dialysis.
No two home dialysis diet plans are the same, but some of the most important levels to monitor include the following:
Protein is a critical part of any diet. Your body needs protein to repair and build new tissue, to make body chemicals like hormones, and to act as a component of every cell. Getting enough protein is particularly important for peritoneal dialysis patients because they lose protein every time the dialysis solution is drained from the abdomen. This loss must be replenished with high-protein foods that will keep the body functioning properly.
Turkey, eggs, tofu, fish, chicken, and other lean meats are protein-rich foods.
Potassium plays a role in heart, digestive, and muscular functions. But for home hemodialysis patients, excessively high potassium levels can be life threatening. Typically, a renal dietitian will restrict your potassium intake to less than 2,000 and 3,000 mg per day.
Some foods that contain high amounts of potassium include bananas, potatoes, avocados, beans, and squash.
The biggest change you’ll likely need to make to your diet involves phosphorus. Phosphorus works with calcium to build strong bones in your body. However, dialysis treatments are unable to remove large amounts of phosphorus. Your dietitian will likely recommend you take a phosphorous binding medication and limit your phosphorus intake to somewhere between 800 and 1,000 mg per day.
Foods that are high in phosphorus include cheese, milk, salmon, lean beef, and nuts.
Your recommended sodium intake will depend on your kidney function, type of home dialysis treatment, and other preexisting health conditions such as hypertension. Limiting your sodium intake can reduce the likelihood of cramping and drops in blood pressure as extra fluid is removed during dialysis. Many patients are advised to consume no more than 2,000 to 3,000 mg of sodium per day.
Foods high in sodium include cured meats, frozen dinners and snacks, and canned vegetables with added salt.
Being on home dialysis does not mean you have to stop doing the things you love. In fact, home dialysis can help you maintain more control of your life and your health.
If you are currently employed and would like to continue working while receiving dialysis treatments, talk to your social worker about managing your work and dialysis schedule. You are not required to disclose your health information to your supervisor, but depending on your relationship with him or her, it may be helpful to let them know you are receiving treatment.
Talk to your doctor about what level of exercise is safe for you to do while on dialysis. Even a few minutes of physical activity each day—whether it’s walking, stretching, or more strenuous exercise—can drastically improve your health, your quality of sleep, your energy levels, and reduce your stress. Home dialysis is meant to keep you moving, not hold you back from doing what you enjoy.