Couscous with Vegetables by Kathy from Maryland

“I think dialysis is one of the most rewarding fields in nutrition,” says Kathy.  And patients at her Maryland DaVita center are glad she feels that way. “By getting to know our patients, we are able to work with them to incorporate the renal diet into their own unique lifestyles.” Kathy sometimes finds it challenging to constantly motivate her patients to follow their new diet and take their medications. But, she knows it’s a task worth pursuing. “The renal diet may at first seem difficult to understand and follow,” she explains. “But by seeing our patients every week, we are able to teach them according to their individual needs and dietary habits.”  Kathy finds it rewarding that she can make a difference in her patients’ lives by not only offering understanding of their difficult situation, but also positive motivation and, of course, nutritional education. “By following the diet-related lab work we are able to see the results of our education and more importantly, see the improved health of our patients,” Kathy says.

A Nebraska native, Kathy went to college at Virginia Tech.  She says she’s been interested in nutrition and cooking since she was 14-years old, so the great importance the diet has for renal patients naturally led her to her chosen field.  A 12-year member of the DaVita team, Kathy says she enjoys working at DaVita because it “has so many professional resources available to optimize the overall education, treatment and health of our patients.”

And educating her patients is a major concern of Kathy’s, who believes the most important thing patients can do is “eat well within their dietary restriction.”  She is especially pleased when patients ask questions about her guidelines because that signals they are interested in their nutritional education. When the patient becomes involved in his or her diet, positive results usually follow.  

But, the patients aren’t the only ones being educated. “I learn so many things from them,” Kathy states, “Such as how to cope and live with chronic kidney disease with a positive attitude. I am continually impressed by their determination, resilience and wonderful sense of humor.” Patients’ family members are helpful, too. “I am also impressed by the strong support of family members who want to help in any way they can,” she says. “Providing favorite meals that may have to be slightly modified is a great way that family members have helped at home, which also improves a patient’s health. An example of this was this past Christmas when a patient’s wife (who is also a professional caterer) cooked a renal-friendly feast for all of our 100 patients.”  And, a good time was had by all. 

Your family will think you’re a professional caterer when you serve couscous for a change. Although couscous is a pasta, it’s actually plumped, not boiled. Its ability to absorb and enhance flavors is gaining it popularity in all types of cooking. In fact, couscous can be cooked with broth or even fruit juice with delicious results. Enjoy!

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