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If you're living with decreased kidney function or are on dialysis, a registered dietitian can help you create a kind-to-kidneys meal plan that helps to manage sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and protein. When the kidneys aren't filtering blood properly, these nutrients and their waste products can build up to dangerous levels. Portion control (eating less than the supersize servings that restaurants dish up) is another important step in kidney- and diabetes-smart eating.
Because sodium can increase blood pressure, swelling, and fluid retention, limiting it is important for a kidney-friendly meal plan. That means no more salt shaker and carefully reading the labels of processed foods.
Eat only in small amounts: packaged foods and restaurant meals, where layers of salty flavorings, sauces, and food preservatives add up to sodium overload.
Try this: Season food with fresh herbs, citrus juice and zest, and flavored vinegars. Over a few weeks, your taste buds will get used to a lower level of salty flavor.
This bone-health mineral is found in most foods, especially those high in calcium. It's not listed on the Nutrition Facts panel of packaged foods, but you can look up amounts at ndb.nal.usda.gov.
Eat only in small amounts: dried beans, dairy products, enriched cereals, nuts, and soda (especially brown colas), which are higher in phosphorus.
Ask about: a phosphate binder, a prescribed medication that can help control how much of the mineral your body gets from food.
Too much potassium in the blood can damage your heart. Because it's found in fruits and vegetables—key foods in a diabetes meal plan—people with kidney disease favor produce that naturally has less potassium. Lower-potassium produce has less than 200 mg of potassium per serving.
Eat only in small amounts: avocados, bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes, which are higher in potassium.
Try these: asparagus, berries, broccoli, cherries, kale, plums, red bell peppers, red cabbage, red grapes, and spinach.
This macronutrient helps build muscles and repair tissues, but damaged kidneys can't properly filter protein waste products, such as urea. The level of kidney function typically dictates daily protein allowances. On dialysis, however, protein needs may increase; check with your health care provider.
Eat only in small amounts: cheese, beans, and tree nuts, which are high in protein.
Try these: Good sources of lower-fat protein include eggs, fish, lean meats, soymilk, soy nuts, and tofu.