Kidney Diet Tips

Kidney Diet Cost: More or Less than a General Diet?

“How much is this going to cost me?” “Does the kidney diet cost more than my usual diet?” These may be some of the first questions that come to mind when you are first informed about the renal or kidney diet. Any change in lifestyle can ultimately affect one’s wallet. The likelihood that you will make certain changes to your diet is influenced by the availability and costs of food items around you.

Renal Diet Cost Study

One study published in 2017 in the Journal of Renal Nutrition delved into this topic. Clinicians and researchers in Ohio analyzed and compared the costs of an unrestricted diet with the renal diet. Researchers used the standard Nutrition Environment Measure Survey (NEMS) and a renal diet-modified NEMS to measure the price differences between items for these two diets. The renal diet included lower sodium entrees and side dishes, low potassium fruits and vegetables, and low phosphorus foods. This survey was pilot-tested by renal dietitians and nephrologists at both full service grocery stores and discount stores.

Not surprisingly, this study found that the availability of renal diet foods are limited compared to that of an unrestricted diet. However, while there were some significant differences in cost for items, such as milk, hot dogs and frozen meals, the average costs of a meal for both the renal and unrestricted diets are very similar. This is encouraging news for those who are hesitant to make dietary changes due to financial concerns.

Budgeting Tips 

  • Plan ahead. Write down your grocery list and stick to it. DaVita Diet Helper includes a useful tool to create your weekly meal plans and grocery lists.
  • Buy in bulk as this can reduce cost. And, be sure that you can eat most of these foods to reduce food waste.
  • Frozen food items are often less costly and last longer in your freezer. Ask your dietitian for ideas of appropriate frozen foods.
  • Browse your local newspaper and mail for coupons and discounts. Share this with your dietitian to ensure that those choices are renal-friendly.
  • Use the search terms “budget” and “easy” when browsing DaVita recipes.

Dietitians are encouraged to ask patients where they shop and to be mindful of patient’s financial concerns. Helping patients navigate through the grocery aisles for affordable, renal diet-appropriate foods is a key part of providing individualized diet recommendations. For more information on food budget read Budget Meals on the Dialysis Diet.

Supply and Demand

Especially relevant, there has been an increasing demand for heart healthy, gluten-free, organic and diabetic diet-appropriate foods. Renal-friendly food items should also be included as this can be greatly beneficial for those on a renal diet. Demand can affect the supply and costs of food. Clinicians and patients are encouraged to speak with local store managers about foods available. Request them to stock lower sodium options, fresh foods that are low in potassium, and more protein items. By doing so, you support a healthier food environment that factors in the unique aspects of the renal diet.

Reference:

Sullivan, C.M., et al. (2017). Comparison of the Availability and Cost of Foods Compatible with a Renal Diet Versus an Unrestricted Diet Using the Nutrition Environment Measure Survey. Journal of Renal Nutrition, volume 27 (3), p 1-4.

Sherry Lam, MS, RD

Sherry Lam, MS, RD

Prior to joining DaVita in Los Angeles, Sherry Lam, MS, RD worked as a clinical and renal dietitian at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco. In her free time Sherry enjoys dancing (ballet, contemporary/modern), creating digital or graphic design work, and cooking and exploring different cuisines.