Everyone wants to eat well – and healthy – but nobody has the time to spend all day in the kitchen. DaVita renal dietitian Anne, previously from Pennsylvania and now residing in Maryland, understands this, and that's why she shares with us easy yet satisfying ways to have several fantastic, kidney-friendly dinners without spending hours cooking. It's a tip she's given her renal patients, and it's one that everyone can appreciate.
By cooking chicken and squash one night, you'll have what you need for two entrees: Chicken in Rosemary-Garlic Sauce and Grilled Summer Squash. What could be simpler! You may decide to turn leftovers from Chicken in Rosemary-Garlic Sauce into next day’s lunch using Anne’s recipe for Italian Chicken Salad.
If seafood is more your style, you’ll want to try Anne’s kidney-friendly recipe for Pineapple Seafood Salad. It’s a versatile, high-protein dish that you can serve as an entrée for lunch or dinner, or use as a filling for sandwiches or a topping for low-sodium crackers.
A native of Pennsylvania, DaVita renal dietitian Anne attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Saint Louis University. When it was time to choose a career, she was looking for one that would let her dirctly help people improve their health, and so she became a dietitian.
After six years of working in community hospitals, Anne felt as if she were a “jack of all trades and master of none," so she moved into the renal field. "I always enjoyed outpatient nutrition counseling and helping to coach and empower people to take control of their health by making positive changes," she explains. "Additionally, I always enjoyed working with nephrologists and with their renal patients in the acute and outpatient settings, so dialysis was the perfect career move for me."
Anne thrives on the diversity that comes with being a DaVita renal dietitian. "There is a new challenge every day. That is why I like my job," Anne states.
Assisting patients and their significant others to implement a kidney-friendly eating plan that is enjoyable for them is very rewarding for Anne. "Many dialysis patients start treatment with the impression that they 'can’t eat anything worth eating'," Anne comments. But this dedicated dietitian helps them find foods that taste good and are good for them too.
Helping dialysis patients goes beyond creating an eating plan for them, however. "Sometimes just listening to them talk about their lives is what they need. We laugh a lot at our clinic, too," Anne declares. "When I can help a person feel less deprived while still maintaining optimal lab results, I’ve helped them to have a better quality of life on dialysis."
One of the aspects Anne likes best about her job is the gratitude her patients feel for her work with them. "My patients truly appreciate every little thing each of us does to support them," Anne confirms. But that appreciation goes both ways. "My patients usually give more to me in the long run than I give to them!" she exclaims.
Anne's approach to working with patients is truly genuine and caring. "I treat every patient the way I would want my mother or father to be treated when receiving health care. My approach varies depending upon the individual’s needs, their personality, etc., but it is always very casual and non-judgmental," Anne confides.
In her efforts to help patients improve their health, Anne touts moderation. "Many patients, unfortunately, have very negative opinions about nutrition. They see the dietitian as someone who is 'taking away my food.' My goal is to give them BACK as many of their favorite foods, in moderation, as possible and empower them to make balanced food choices."
Anne is always trying new approaches to bring home her message. Recently, she's been part of what she calls a phosphorus round-up, an activity designed to make clear to patients just how safe, or unsafe, their phosphorus levels may be.
"Each patient, with their approval, is assigned a barnyard animal figurine. If their phosphorus is within goal range, their animal is 'safe in the barn,'” Anne explains. "If they are above 5.5, the animal is 'out in the field, where it is dangerous.' Patients look forward to seeing where their animal figurine is."
Anne has been with DaVita for three years now and likes the teamwork she experiences in her position. "We have a team that truly works together for the higher good of our patients. Personal differences are put aside, and there is a momentum that builds when we have fun motivating the patients," Anne explains. "Everyone has their talents and unique insights into what really helps each patient. Our FA gives us the support we need to make the DaVita Core Values a reality, not just something that hangs on the wall. We are thankful for each other and express this."
In fact, Anne believes that the teamwork at DaVita is of benefit to everyone. "Our core values lead to an environment that feels like home for all of us – teammates and patients. This brings out the best in all of us," states Anne.
In her job as a renal dietitian with DaVita, Anne gets introduced to foods from other places. "I love learning about food choices from other regions of the US and the world with which I am not familiar – yet I have been called a total foodie by my closest friends. For instance, I learned what poke is. It is a springtime green that is popular with some people from rural and southern states," explains Anne. "A very sweet, elderly gentleman from Arkansas was astounded that I did not know what poke is. An equally charming female patient originally from Mississippi wanted to know how much potassium and phosphorus are in crowder peas. This, I learned, is another name for black-eyed peas and was a comfort food for this patient and part of her Southern roots. I found this information on the internet, and I also found some typical recipes for using these. Both of these examples show how our patients give so much to us – helping them is synergistic."
If you're looking for ways to simplify your life without giving up healthy, satisfying meals, you may want to help yourself to Anne's versatile, kidney-friendly recipes.