As a child growing up in El Paso, Texas, Kristin was always interested in health and fitness. So when she started to learn about nutrition at Texas Christian University, her career choice was made: “I was fascinated by how much nutrition directly impacts people’s health and overall well being,” says Kristin.
Kristin wanted to work in a field where she got to know patients and “not just educate them and not see them again.” This desire led her to becoming a dietitian in the renal field, helping patients with their chronic kidney disease (CKD). Kristin loves “directly impacting patients’ health, seeing them gain strength and energy and improving their quality of life,” she says.
The most challenging part of any renal dietitian’s job is to keep kidney patients motivated to be compliant with their kidney diets. Kristin’s constantly on the look out for new teaching techniques to motivate and cheer on the patients at her dialysis center. One of her favorite tools is a game called the Phosphorus Triathlon. Patients track their lab results on a giant game board representing three sports. According to Kristin, “It’s a game that continues for three months starting with swimming, biking then running. The better their lab results are the more spaces they move toward the finish line. The winners receive a prize. It’s a fun way to track your lab results and to see the direct impact diet has on health and well being.”
But Kristin also knows keeping people on track with phosphorus, potassium, sodium and fluid can be very challenging. “I like to focus on the positive. I let my dialysis patients know what needs to be worked on but I also reinforce how well they are doing. I reach out to them; I listen to them, even if it’s not about their diet or lab results. I believe the more I know about my patients and their families, the better I can help them.”
Kristin’s high touch approach is always appreciated at her DaVita facility. “One day, just walking through the dialysis clinic, I decided to stop and talk to one of my patients. He was feeling a bit under the weather and was cold because he forgot his blanket. I got a blanket from the office and covered him with it. The following treatment, he was so appreciative he couldn’t thank me enough. He even joked about how I should become his daughter-in-law! It amazed me that such a simple act could have such an affect on someone. I guess it really is the little things in life that make a big difference.”
According to Kristin, the single most important thing kidney patients can do to improve their health is “to care about themselves. Wanting to be healthy must come from within; if you don’t want it, it’s not going to happen.”
The aromas from this wonderful side dish will attract even the picky eaters to the dinner table. It’s great for a kidney diet because it’s low in phosphorus, potassium and sodium. Try Kristin’s Savory White Rice as an accompaniment at your next meal.