When it comes to good health, apples get an A+. Considered one of the top 15 healthy foods for people with kidney disease, apple dishes are appealing additions to the menu, especially when cooler fall weather arrives.
DaVita renal dietitian, Cristin from Pennsylvania, has found four delicious ways to take advantage of no-sodium, low-potassium, and low-phosphorus apples in her flavorful recipes. Cristin believes that the single most important thing renal patients can do to improve their health is to maintain normal phosphorus levels, and apples are a delicious way to support that goal.
Asked how she became a dietitian, Cristin recalls that she knew as a teenager that she wanted to work in health care. “I always had an interest in food, so a career in dietetics seemed like a natural fit,” she explains.
Cristin studied at Mansfield University, where she completed her bachelor’s degree, then went on to Pennsylvania State University for her master’s. Her first job out of school landed her at the local hospital, where she worked in the dialysis center. It was there she decided to pursue a career as a renal dietitian. She’s been with DaVita for 13 years and currently works at a DaVita center in a small Pennsylvania town.
As a DaVita dietitian, Cristin grapples with the challenge of helping renal patients improve their phosphorus and fluid levels. Her strategy is to provide her kidney patients with the tools and knowledge they need to manage their diets and outcomes in order to achieve optimal quality of life.
Cristin believes in a creative approach to educating patients. Not long ago, she held a Lab Coat Fashion Show for each shift of patients at the dialysis center where she works. “Each of my teammates decorated a lab coat with a theme that pertained to calcium, phosphorus or parathyroid hormone (PTH),” she explains. “They strutted their stuff to music so the patients could view their designs, much like models walking down a runway. While my teammates were parading, I delivered the educational message for each jacket. In a sense, I wrote a synopsis for each jacket’s theme,” she remembers. No doubt the entertaining presentation helped make the message enjoyable and memorable for her patients.
Cristin likes collaborating with her colleagues on a regular basis, and the dash of humor she adds to her presentations helps make learning fun for her patients.
Asked what she likes most about working with patients, Cristin replies, “I enjoy seeing them on a regular basis (a chronic setting allows for this) and getting to know them really well. It’s rewarding to see positive outcomes as a result of my efforts.”
DaVita provides the support and resources that Cristin appreciates, including a network of dietitians that number more than 1,200 strong. Since joining DaVita, Cristin has learned that “we can achieve great things as a team.”
Cristin is grateful for her colleagues. “We have a low turnover rate at our center and an experienced team. They’re supportive of my efforts and involve themselves in patient education,” she explains.
To give her patients new and healthy recipe ideas, Cristin takes everyday favorites and makes them kidney-friendly. She loves apples for their low-potassium and low-phosphorus properties, but also because they’re rich in fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds. In addition, apples have been known to reduce cholesterol, prevent constipation, protect against heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer.
Take advantage of all that apples offer in these appetizing recipes that capture the flavor of fall harvest. Cristin’s patients give them high marks, and you will too.