Kidney Diet Tips

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Kidney Diet Tips: Our Ever-Changing Food Supply

Have you noticed the changes occurring in our foods? I am amazed every time I walk through the grocery store. A few examples are:

Cool Whip® is no longer non-dairy; it now includes skim milk and light cream.

Cottage cheese, half and half and milk with expiration dates 1-2 months ahead.

Sugar and low calorie sweeteners are blended together.

Packaged gelatin and pudding mix and some canned or bottled sodas, lemonade and teas now contain phosphate additives.

Fresh pork and chicken may be injected with sodium-phosphate solution to maintain the fresh appearance while waiting for purchase.

Heat and eat foods extend beyond the grocery store deli section, and unfortunately, often provide half or more of the daily sodium target .

Can you think of other examples? 

Some of these changes are made to extend shelf life, improve appearance or prevent clumping. You can’t blame food manufacturers for wanting to increase profits by reducing product waste. But as consumers, specifically consumers concerned about kidney and heart health (isn’t that most of us?), we must stay informed about what’s in our food and make the better choices. Frequent label and ingredient reading is a must for all foods. When eating out you can inquire about the ingredients used in the meal. Do they arrive partially prepared or pre-cooked? Do ingredients used in the meal contain phosphate or potassium additives or high sodium content? Many restaurants use these ‘convenience’ or processed foods to speed up the preparation time and reduce labor costs. But as consumers we must know what’s in our food to be able to make the best choices.

Another impact of the changing food supply is keeping up-to-date nutrient data. The nutrition information on recipes and menus is only as good as the database used to calculate it. With constantly changing ingredients, we must remind ourselves that nutrient information is a guide, but may become outdated as ingredients change.

We are not powerless over our food. We can start relying more on meals prepared at home from fresh, local ingredients at farmer’s markets or food co-ops. We can buy organic foods from reliable brands that are conscious of our food concerns. We can seek out restaurants that are more interested in serving healthy cuisine than maximizing profits.

We can start by investigating the foods we eat today. Identify changes that  preserve our health and help prevent health problems related to too much sodium, potassium, phosphorus, saturated fat, cholesterol and refined sugar.

What changes are you going to make, especially knowing that food manufacturers pay attention to consumer buying habits and demands?

Kidney diet resources from DaVita.com

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.