Kidney Diet Tips

Working on Dialysis: Tips for Balancing Work and Diet

Keeping up with work, life and a kidney-friendly diet can sometimes be overwhelming and present many obstacles. The tips below may help keep you on track despite having a busy schedule.

When it comes to a busy schedule, it is important to always be prepared. You may be racing from work to dialysis or a doctor’s appointment, or even trying to fit in exercise after a hectic workday. With your busy schedule having healthy snacks and meals ready in the morning can help minimize stress and keep you on track.

  1. Know your diet and plan accordingly. Nutrient needs vary depending on age, gender, weight, height and medical conditions. To learn more about your specific nutrient needs ask your dietitian or physician. Most people following a kidney-friendly diet need to limit phosphorus, potassium, sodium and fluids. Your protein needs will vary depending on your size, nutritional status and treatment type.
  2. Plan to eat about every 3 to 4 hours. Bring meals and snacks to work and dialysis. Know how long you will be out of the house and plan foods to bring with you.. Healthy snacks include fresh fruit or vegetables, unsalted popcorn or pretzels, and protein bars.
  3. Build a healthy plate. When planning a meal away from home, make sure you are consuming adequate nutrients. A healthy meal contains protein, grains, vegetables and fruit. For example, a fresh arugula salad topped with chicken and sprinkled with dried cranberries and a few chopped almonds. Dress it with oil and vinegar and add a side of unsalted pretzels and an apple.
  4. Plan meals and prep the evening before. Have your lunch and snacks ready in the morning when you leave for work or dialysis treatment. This can help keep you on schedule and minimize stress. You can save time by making your lunch while preparing dinner. Or, consider making extra food in the evening and portioning it out for the next day’s lunch (or for several days).
  5. Be familiar with kidney-friendly options at restaurants in the area. Planning meals in advance may not work for you 100% of the time. Maybe you forgot to stop at the grocery store or you’re just too tired to prepare food for the next day. That’s okay. Being familiar with restaurants in your area will help you make healthy choices, even if you aren’t cooking in your kitchen. Looking up the nutrition facts online can help you reduce sodium intake. You can also make alterations to your meal to reduce sodium and phosphorus. For example, skip the cheese on a salad or sandwich. Request salad dressing on the side or oil and vinegar instead of a high sodium dressing.
  6. Look up the menu in the cafeteria at the beginning of the week. If you work in a facility that has a cafeteria the menu is likely planned out at least one week before it is served. This works in your favor because you can choose which days to eat in the cafeteria and which days to bring your own meal. Many cafeterias offer nutrition facts online, or even have signs displaying nutrition facts in the cafeteria. Be familiar with your diet, so you can make the best choices for you. For example, if you are following a 2000 mg sodium diet, one meal typically contains about 500-600 mg of sodium.
  7. Bring a pill box for your medications. If you are taking a phosphate binder, it may be beneficial to put some of your phosphate binders in your lunch box so you remember to take them when you eat. If your doctor prescribed a renal vitamin you can also add this to your pill box as a reminder to take your vitamin after dialysis treatment.
  8. Get enough sleep. Not having enough energy can keep you from cooking and preparing meals in advance. Keep your body energized by making sure you are getting adequate sleep. For tips on sleep visit Sleep Issues and Chronic Kidney Disease on

Watch this video to see some of the benefits associated with working on dialysis.

Get more information about working with kidney disease read “Getting Back to Work: Tools to Help You Return to the Workforce While Managing Kidney Disease”.

See more kidney-friendly recipes on

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 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.

Krista Blackwell, RD, LDN, CNSC

Krista Blackwell, RD, LDN, CNSC

Krista believes eating well is an essential component of living a long, healthy and happy life. She has been with DaVita for over one year and has been working as a clinical dietitian in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area for almost four years. Krista is a certified nutrition support clinician and is taking classes for a master’s of science in applied nutrition. She enjoys being part of a strong team of renal medical experts at DaVita. In her free time Krista loves traveling, cooking, reading and staying active.