Meal planning can be challenging, especially when following a kidney diet. Lisa, a DaVita renal dietitian and former chef from New York, has provided a breakfast, lunch and dinner plan that is sure to please. Start your day with hot, sweet Old Fashion Waffles. Lunch time will be a treat with Lisa’s Awesome Burgers — so flavorful you don’t even need mustard. Creamy Shells with Peas and Bacon makes a complete and delicious dinner. Last, but not least, end your healthy day with Lisa’s Stuffed Strawberries for dessert.
Lisa started her career in the kitchen, making her an expert in delicious food. “My first career was as a chef in San Francisco,” states Lisa. Little did she know her path would lead her to become a renal dietitian. “As part of my chef’s training, I had to take a class on nutrition. I was fascinated! I decided that I wanted to combine the field of culinary arts with nutrition,” Lisa shares.
A twist of fate took Lisa into the renal field. “Quite frankly, I needed a job. I was offered a renal dietitian position at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in 1995 and took it. After one week of training with a fantastic mentor, Rebekah Mani, and the KUMC nephrologists, the renal bug bit and I’ve never looked back! I couldn’t imagine myself in any other field,” reveals Lisa.
Creativity and practicality are two of Lisa’s most impressive qualities. She provides her patients with diet and health information as well as helps them plan meals and save money. “I have a weekly shopping list that I pull together from the sale circulars that come in the Sunday paper. It helps people make up their weekly shopping list and it shows people how they can incorporate different foods into their diets. I also provide a weekly recipe that revolves around the time of the year and something that’s on sale that week.” Lisa’s weekly recipe opens up a new line of communication by giving everyone at the dialysis center a seasonal dish to try and discuss.
Lisa’s specialty is her ability to empower people. “I give my patients choices. Kidney disease takes over a person’s life. If a person knows he or she has control over something in his or her life, then I’ve helped get part of their life back.” Her intuition plays a key role in the educational process. “I keep it simple. I don’t overwhelm anyone with more information than they want.”
Keeping an open mind and being willing to learn about personal health and the renal diet are very important to improving health, says Lisa. “Take more interest and responsibility for your care,” advises Lisa, adding, “Since this disease takes away so much control in a person’s live, being active in one’s care is a way to gain control over the disease.”
Many rewards come from Lisa’s hard work and care. “I really enjoy putting a smile on people’s faces and becoming part of my patients’ lives. I get a chance to meet the most interesting people! They come from such diverse backgrounds and I get to learn about their histories. As many of them are grandmothers, I also get some good child-rearing advice,” states Lisa.
Working for DaVita for over four years, Lisa has found a second home with her patients and coworkers. “We have over 125 hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients, and are in the process of starting a home hemodialysis department. We try to have a lot of fun with our patients. The teammates are always joking around with each other and the patients. My facility administrator (FA), Laura, is the best person I’ve ever worked with — she’s a hoot! She tells the best stories of her life and of her profession. There are plenty of times she has me in tears with laughter. She’s also the most caring person I’ve ever worked for. She really understands her teammates and accommodates them as much as she can.”
Lisa has lived in several places in the U.S. but New York is home sweet home. “A lot of us leave town to find bigger and better things, but eventually most of us find ourselves coming back to enjoy life with family and the great people here.”
Here’s your chance to have a gourmet day using the recipes of a real former chef who is also a real renal dietitian helping you comply with your dialysis diet. Lisa has put together an entire day from breakfast to dessert. Start your day with Lisa’s Old Fashion Waffles, take a midday break for Lisa’s Awesome Burgers and set the dinner table with Creamy Shells with Peas and Bacon and Stuffed Strawberries for dessert.