Kidney Diet Tips

Tips to Re-energize for Work and Play

This week at the National Kidney Foundation annual meeting in Boston, DaVita social worker Deborah Evans, MA, LCSW and her colleagues presented a poster “Barriers to Employment Among End-Stage Renal Disease Patients Receiving Dialysis“. It was awarded Outstanding Poster and has some interesting insights into reasons dialysis patients, even those in younger age groups, do not work. Studies have shown that patients who are employed have a higher quality of life, including fewer hospitalizations and lower death rates, than those who do not work.

The number one barrier to working cited by the poster is lack of energy or feeling too ill. Dialysis patients often experience fatigue and low energy which interferes with activities and a good quality of life.

Good nutrition with adequate protein and calorie intake is essential for the body to produce energy. Dialysis patients may skip meals or snacks on dialysis days, and are at high risk for changes in appetite and nutrition status. Working with a renal dietitian on what, how much and how often to eat is one way to address lack of energy. DaVita dietitians have developed the following eating tips that may help boost calorie and protein intake.

  • On dialysis days eat before, during or after treatment
  • Try to eat meals even if you are not hungry
  • Include 4-6 small meals or snacks every day
  • Eat your meat first (for protein)
  • Eat your biggest meal at the time of day that you have the most energy
  • Prepare and freeze meals ahead
  • Use convenience, ready-to-eat foods within your meal plan
  • Keep high protein snack foods on hand

A lack of energy is one symptom that may stop dialysis patients from working or playing. These eating tips may make a difference in energy level. Patients can also talk to their  healthcare team about other causes of lack of energy.

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.