The Peritoneal Dialysis Diet

What is a peritoneal dialysis diet?

The peritoneal dialysis diet is designed for patients who choose peritoneal dialysis (PD) instead of hemodialysis (HD). It’s slightly different than the hemodialysis diet due to the differences in the dialysis treatments. Unlike hemodialysis, PD is typically performed daily. As a result, the body does not buildup as much potassium, sodium and fluid, so for most patients the diet is more liberal.

What can I eat?

Protein requirements are higher because protein is lost through the peritoneal membrane. Due to this protein loss, your dietitian will likely instruct you to eat more protein. Patients on PD are at risk for infection, so a diet with adequate protein is needed to keep the body strong.

Unlike HD, PD patients are likely to keep normal or low potassium levels. The diet often includes higher-potassium foods to maintain normal potassium levels. You will also be able to choose from a variety of nutritious foods to round out your PD diet.

What can't I eat?

Your phosphorus intake will need to be limited. Phosphorus is not cleared well through PD and can cause complications to your health, such as weak bones, heart problems, joint pain or skin ulcers.

The PD diet limits sodium and fluid. It’s important to keep such intake within the goals determined by your health care team. Sodium makes you thirsty, which can lead to fluid intake above the recommended amount. This can cause swelling, shortness of breath and high blood pressure.

Why do I have to eat this way?

Your dietitian and doctor will strongly recommend you eat this way so your PD treatments will be effective and you can feel your best. You’ll also reduce the risk of other health problems associated with dialysis and kidney disease.

How does it help?

By limiting foods that contain minerals such as phosphorus and sodium, you lessen the risk of developing certain complications. Too much phosphorus can cause complications such as weak bones, heart problems and skin ulcers. Too much sodium can cause your body to hold onto fluid and raise your blood pressure.

Your dietitian may recommend you eat fewer calories because of the dextrose (sugar) that is present in the dialysate. In PD, the dialysate fills the peritoneum and stays there for several hours until it is drained and exchanged with new solution. Your body absorbs some of the glucose from the dialysate, possibly giving you an extra 500 calories a day. These extra calories add up and you may gain weight.

How long do I have to follow the PD diet?

You will follow it for as long as you are on PD. Your dietitian may make changes to the diet to reflect your current condition.

How do I know if the PD diet is working?

You’ll likely notice improved appetite and energy level, better blood pressure and less swelling. Your PD sessions will be effective at eliminating waste and excess fluid from your body. Your doctor and dietitian can check your lab results to make sure you are in a healthy nutrient range. You can check your own dialysis lab results if you’re a DaVita patient on the DaVita Health Portal.

If I follow the PD diet will my kidneys get better?

The PD diet cannot reverse existing kidney damage. The goal of the PD diet is to help make your treatment more effective, as well as keep you healthy and feeling well. Consult with your dietitian and care team to make a diet plan that meets your specific needs.