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How Can a Renal Dietitian Help You?
If you’re new to kidney disease—and even if you’re not—you may not know the value a renal dietitian brings to the table in helping you manage your condition and feel your best. Here is a brief look at what a renal dietitian is and what one can do for you.
What is a renal dietitian?
A renal dietitian specializes in the nutritional needs of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage kidney disease (ESKD). These specialists have extensive knowledge of how diet affects a body with compromised kidney function, and how to tailor a diet to a person with kidney disease’s individual needs. This member of your care team is critical to helping you manage your health and enjoying one of the universal loves in life: food!
Working with a dietitian
Your dietitian knows how to balance important elements in foods and beverages as they relate to kidney disease, including calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins and minerals. They will use your disease stage and lab results to design an eating plan just for you. Additionally, they will coach you with tips for eating a nutritious—yet enjoyable—diet. Meal plans, recipes, food lists and other tools provided by your dietitian can help you meet your nutritional goals while satisfying your appetite and taste buds.
Usually with a monthly check-in, your dietitian will look at your lab values and blood-test results and make adjustments to your diet to help keep you healthy. During this visit, your dietitian will also:
- Educate you on lab values, supplements and medications—such as phosphorus binders
- Explain what can happen when your lab values are out of the recommended zones (for example, bone disease when phosphorus levels are too high for too long)
- Offer advice if you are experiencing problems such a trouble swallowing, loss of appetite, feeling full, constipation or other elimination issues
In-between check-ins to review blood test results, your dietitian may see or contact you to check on things like your appetite, your progress taking recommended actions and to provide articles, recipes or other helpful information.
The more accurate and realistic you are with your dietitian about your food and fluid intake, the better they can help you manage your health and feel your best.
Tapping into dietitian support
Dietitians realize food is more than fuel for survival. It is one of the everyday pleasures in life and a big part of our social worlds, traditions, and holidays. It’s important to acknowledge the role food plays in our lives beyond its practical use. If you stray from your eating plan, don’t feel guilty; your dietitian is there to support you—not judge—and help you enjoy your favorite foods while maintaining good lab results. Your dietitian is also there to offer you encouragement and emotional support. They realize sticking to a kidney diet has its challenges and have the tools to help you overcome obstacles and succeed.
If you’d like to learn more about how a dietitian can help you manage your kidney disease or to get started working with a dietitian, ask your doctor to recommend one or check the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website to find a registered dietitian.
Visit DaVita.com and explore these diet and nutrition resources:
- DaVita Food Analyzer
- DaVita Dining Out Guides
- Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks
- DaVita Kidney-Friendly 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.