If you are looking for a new twist to a favorite dish, consider adding pineapple. DaVita renal dietitian Jennie from Georgia shares her new twist for a tasty snack with her recipe for Pineapple-Sweet Onion Salsa with Tortilla Chips. Not only is this nutritious snack low in phosphorus and kidney friendly, it's also quick and easy to prepare.
With an initial interest in quantity food production, nutrition and medicine, it was only natural that Jennie would pursue a career as a dietitian. After earning her degree at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia and completing a dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University, Jennie started working at a private hospital. When the county hospital in town opened the first dialysis clinic in the area, she was contracted to work in the dialysis clinic. “I continued working part-time in different dialysis units until going full time with dialysis in 1996,” she explained.
Splitting her time between two dialysis centers in Georgia, Jennie urges her patients to “take your medications and never skip dialysis treatments,” which she considers the most important steps to maintaining good health. That, combined with “giving patients the tools to improve their health through what they eat,” is how she makes a difference in her patients' lives.
As a renal dietitian, Jennie “avoids the 'you can never eat that food again' approach.” Instead she “helps patients alter how they are eating with tools for modification.” While “teaching patients that literally they are what they eat” is her biggest challenge, it is also what leads to the most rewarding part of her job – when she sees her patients “learn to understand how the triangle of diet, dialysis and medications work together for them.”
Jennie has worked with so many great patients over the years, but she will always remember one elderly patient who was 80 years old when she first came to dialysis. “She was very swollen all over. She came in a wheelchair with leg extensions because she had pitting edema and weeping legs. She was not sure she wanted to do dialysis. When I went to do her nutritional intake, we just seemed to click. She told me how she was accustomed to growing, picking and canning her own vegetables, and wept that she would not be able to do it again. We kept talking and I assured her that with some minor changes in her diet and adequate dialysis, she would be able to regain some independence. As time when on, her labs got better, and her overall health improved. She was indeed able to plant, harvest and process her very large vegetable garden for several years,” Jennie stated.
“She eventually moved to another DaVita facility closer to her daughter,” she explained. “Every time I reviewed her labs, she would hug me and say, 'You told me and I didn't believe it. You gave me the hope to keep going.' I will never forget her. She was the picture of what successful dialysis, diet, medication and determination can achieve, regardless of age.”
With 15 years of service at one of the two dialysis centers in Georgia where she works, Jennie has been a DaVita renal dietitian since the Gambro acquisition in 2005. “Support for dietitians is probably the best thing I have seen compared to other companies,” she states, “especially the vast online dietitian resources that DaVita provides.
And now you can take advantage of yet another online resource by trying the most recent featured recipe, Jennie's Pineapple-Sweet Onion Salsa with Tortilla Chips. In order to keep this delicious snack kidney friendly, be mindful of portion size.