I was at Stage 5 chronic kidney disease, or CKD, and had been put on life saving dialysis. Relearning how to eat for my kidneys eas an important part of taking care of my tird kidneys. Prior to realizing I had CKD, I was eating good healthy food, but all my choices were hard on my kidneys. The key words in taking care of your overworked kidneys are low potassium and low phosphorus.

It’s very important to follow the food guidelines. As a major filtration device built in to your body, your kidneys are obviously pretty important. Whether they’re in the beginning stages of CKD or have been suffering problems for some time, there are certain kinds of food that simply are not healthy for your kidneys to deal with.

At Stage 5 CKD, my kidneys could no longer clean the blood of potassium. A potassium restrictive diet combined with dialysis helped keep my blood clean. Sticking to a low potassium diet means no more bananas, beets, tomatoes, cheese, and pizza, among other things. That was pretty much all I ate before CKD. No more avocados, which are loaded with potassium, no roasted potatoes, no sport drinks. High potassium in the blood is bad news for the heart. It can slow or even stop the heart. Scary stuff.

kidney friendly cantalope

I’ve made some changes and discovered new foods that I equally enjoy like apples, pears, blueberries, and pineapple. I can still eat pasta, but made the switch to pesto sauce. Instead of avocado toast for breakfast, I have oatmeal, the kind you cook for half an hour. Sometimes I top it with dried cherries, which are a great food for your kidneys. I can have any protein I want, but in small amounts. When I was in the hospital and ordered a tuna sandwich, they brought me half a sandwich. That is considered a serving of protein.

grilled meat and vegetables

The other ingredient to watch is Phosphorous. The kidneys need to maintain a proper balance of the calcium and phosphorous minerals, removing away the excess under normal circumstances. With kidney disease, the kidneys don’t filter away the excess like they should, making phosphorous laden dairy less safe to consume. Instead of removing the extra phosphorous, the kidneys will grab calcium from the bones to help keep the balance together. This you don’t want, you want to protect your bones. It helps to limit phosphorous-heavy foods such as yogurt, cheese and milk, to help keep the balance closer to normal levels.

The word “Phosphorous” will not be on any food label, so you’ll have to do your research. There are dozens of additives contain phosphorus. Look for any ingredient that contains “phos” in the word. Almost every food has some phosphorous so it’s important to talk to your nutritionist or get online and get a list of low phosphorous options. This will affect your dairy choices, beans, whole grains, mushrooms, cola drinks, and chocolate. I can have my cake but it just can’t be chocolate.

Phosphate chart

You can use your Google app to find out how much potassium or phosphorous is in almost ay type of food.
I can be in the grocery store, go to Google, click on the mic and ask:

“How much potassium is in a rice cake?”

My very smart phone will say, “26 mg of potassium is in one cake.”
How cool is that?
If you want to freak out, ask Google how much potassium is in a potato.
Your phone will sneer, “There are 897 mg of potassium on one medium potato.”
So rice cakes it is.

To help your body not absorb phosphorous in food, you might be prescribed a phosphorous binder. Mine is called “Fosrenal,” and I get it through my dialysis clinic, Davita. On the plus side, I can eat white bread, which I used to avoid like the plague: Hello French baguettes!

French baguettes are good for kidneys

If you’re on dialysis at a clinic, they will check your blood panel every month. Your nutritionist will bring you a print out of how you’re doing with your blood chemistry. If your phosphorus or potassium is high, she will work with you to bring it down. If you’re doing well, you will get a smiley face, and who doesn’t love a smiley face.

If there is a particular food on the naughty list that you simply cannot live without, talk to your nutritionist. I simply cannot live without bananas. After I talked to my nutritionist at Davita, she said to I could eat the forbidden fruit right before or during dialysis. I was limited to a half of banana, but that was fine with me.

There are two great sites where you can find out all the information you need. One is https://www.kidney.org. The other site with is https://www.davita.com. Both have extensive food lists and recipes. There are some great tips on food choices concerning phosphorous from the Mayo Clinic that you can read here: