The Transplant Diet

What is a transplant diet?

A transplant diet is for patients who have undergone a kidney transplant.

What can I eat?

Your doctor and renal dietitian will recommend a nutritious diet with the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats. You may still be on a low sodium diet. Foods that contain higher amounts of sodium, phosphorus and potassium may be re-introduced to your eating program depending on any other health conditions you have.

What can’t I eat?

Many patients assume they will be able to eat anything they wish after they have a kidney transplant. Unfortunately, this is not true. Depending on your other health conditions, your transplant diet may reflect the same restrictions you had before receiving the new kidney. For example, if you have diabetes, you will follow strict guidelines to control your blood glucose levels by balancing the carbohydrates in your diet. You may also have caloric restrictions to help prevent excess weight gain caused by some of the medications. If you have high blood pressure, you may be asked to limit the amount of sodium in your diet. Your diet may also include restrictions on fat, sugar and alcohol to help keep cholesterol and triglyceride levels normal.

Your doctor will continue to monitor your overall health after the transplant. Your dietitian will adjust your eating plan as needed to keep you healthy and feeling well.

Why do I have to eat that way?

Your doctor and dietitian will recommend you eat this way in order to keep your transplanted kidney healthy and reduce the chances of infection and organ rejection. Although your new kidney means you no longer require dialysis, it is still susceptible to damage.

How does the transplant diet help?

By controlling the conditions that contributed to your kidney failure, the diet can reduce the chances your new kidney will suffer damage. Also, a balanced diet full of quality foods will keep you healthy and strong, reducing the chances of complications and infections.

What about fluid intake?

Once your new kidney starts working, you no longer need a fluid restriction. Your dietitian will recommend a plan to introduce more fluid into your diet.

How long do I have to follow the transplant diet?

You will follow the transplant diet for as long as your doctor and dietitian feel you can benefit from it. You will be able to discuss your individual dietary needs at your transplant follow-up appointments.

How do I know if the transplant diet is working?

You will know the transplant diet is working because your overall health will be good. A nutritious diet will lessen the chances of complications and infections to your transplant. By keeping your body strong and full of nutrients, your diet can help protect you and your new kidney.

If I follow the transplant diet will my new kidney keep working?

If you follow the transplant diet, the chances of infection and rejection are reduced. Keeping your new kidney working depends on a variety of factors, of which food and nutrition are just a small part. You will need to take your prescribed medication and follow your doctor’s advice regarding alcohol, smoking and exercise.