Kidney Diet Tips

Do I need a renal dietitian?

Doctor prescribing dietA renal dietitian specializes in creating meal plans for people diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. There are five stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD); with the fifth stage being end stage renal disease (ESRD), which requires dialysis treatment. In the first four stages of CKD, the goal of a kidney health care team is to help preserve the patient’s kidney function. In many cases what a person with chronic kidney disease eats can have a positive effect on prolonging kidney function.

In addition to understanding the kidney diet, a renal dietitian is also knowledgeable about dietary measures to help control diabetes and high blood pressure. Because diabetes and high blood pressure are two leading causes of chronic kidney disease, many kidney patients have these co-morbidities and are already on an eating plan. That previously prescribed diet plan may change a little when considering decreased kidney function. More attention is given to minerals like sodium, phosphorus and potassium if lab tests indicate imbalances due to declining kidney function. Protein goals may change based on how much is usually consumed and lab results that reflect build up of urea nitrogen in the blood.

When first being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, your doctor should provide some guidance on your diet. If you require more assistance with what you should be eating and avoiding, and how to get all the nutrients you need, ask your doctor to recommend a dietitian. After patients begin dialysis treatment, they will have a renal dietitian assigned to them. The renal dietitian will educate about the kidney diet as well as go over lab results and make recommendations to keep labs in a healthy range.

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita KidneyFriendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 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 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.