The Challenges of Being on a Dialysis Diet

The dialysis diet

The “dialysis diet” may seem a bit difficult for people who are used to eating whatever they want, any time they want. Your dietitian will explain why limiting potassium, phosphorus and sodium are important to your health. It is a good idea to always ask for your lab results, so you can use that information to choose foods that will help you feel your best. Knowing your lab results—and how your food choices affect your blood levels of potassium, phosphorus and protein—will make it easier to decide what to put on your plate.


“Dialyze” your vegetables. This process—called leaching—is when you soak certain vegetables, such as potatoes, to remove some of the potassium. Simply peel and cut the vegetables into small pieces and soak them in a large amount of water for at least four hours or even overnight. When you're ready to cook the vegetables, drain the water. Then add a large amount of fresh water and boil vigorously until vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork.


Discuss milk-alternatives with your dietitian. Substitute non-dairy creamers for milk in recipes, in puddings or on cereals. Try adding strawberry-flavored syrup or powder to enhance the flavor. Ice cream or frozen yogurt can be substituted for the half cup of milk usually allowed on the renal diet. Your dietitian can give you a list of the best non-dairy substitutes to use.

Ask your dietitian how to adjust your phosphorus binder dose to the phosphorus content of your meal. For example, if you're planning to enjoy a large steak dinner on a special occasion, you may need to take an extra phosphorus binder.


Ask your dietitian about herb-blends. Use herbs, spices or lemon juice to flavor foods. When eating out, plan to eat less sodium during the rest of the day. A restaurant meal will usually have more sodium than foods you cook at home.

Remember, you are unique

Your individual diet will be determined by your medical condition and the amount of kidney function you have. Depending on your lab results, some food items high in potassium or phosphorus may be allowed in limited quantities. The key is to know your lab results and so you can make smart food choices.

Your lifestyle, food preferences and work schedule, if applicable, will also affect your diet. Your dietitian can help you take all of these factors into consideration when planning your diet. Ask your dietitian for tips on how to make your diet tasty and enjoy your favorite foods.