Sure, you are on dialysis, and sure, you have to experience some not really pleasant things during this time. Sometimes it is painful, sometimes it is simply uncomfortable. And to all these unpleasant things that you have to experience, you must add another one. Bad food. Or that is what you think. Because probably you tend to think that being on dialysis means that you have to care for your diet a lot, and indeed that is completely true. No one would deny that part of the success of your treatment has to do with the sort of food that you eat. But this does not necessarily entail that you cannot enjoy the food that you eat, and more importantly, that you cannot have meals that you truly enjoy. Meals that may give you the feeling of having had a great dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Being on dialysis can be seen as an opportunity to find other ways to eat, ways that not only are healthier for you, but also show aspects related to how to enjoy new types of food that you never considered before. Dialysis does not imply that you cannot have a better and even more fulfilling life in this respect. After all, there is a wide variety of kidney-friendly foods and recipes specially thought for your renal diet. The important point is that you take the time, the interest, and particularly the motivation to look for them and try them. You will not be disappointed.
Of course, you must pay attention to your nutrition requirements in order to decide which diet option and what kind of recipes are more appropriate for you. After all, the type of dialysis treatment that you chose will have a direct impact on those nutrition requirements. It is not the same if you choose traditional hemodialysis, which you will have three times a week, frequent hemodialysis, which you will have five to six times a week, or peritoneal dialysis. In each case, your nutrition requirements will be different, and for that reason, it is crucial for your treatment and your health in general that you know them well. In this sense, it is very important for you that you receive proper advice from a dialysis dietitian. During dialysis, your body will change the ways in which it removes waste, and for that reason, you cannot continue having the same kind of diet that you had before. You must change it, and your dietitian may help you to find the best options for you, which need to take into account factors such as your type of dialysis and other related health issues, but also your own preferences regarding food.
As a consequence, when you create your diet, and particularly, when you decide which kinds of food and recipes you would like to try, it is important that you keep in mind some general aspects regarding the nutrition requirements that you must fulfill. First of all, do not forget your protein ever. Protein is fundamental for you when you start dialysis, even if you have been told in the past that it is good for you to limit it. Once you start dialysis, you will need to eat more protein than what you used to eat before. Every meal should be very rich in protein for dialysis patients. So, consider including both animal and vegetable protein in your diet. Some of the best sources of animal protein are meat, milk and milk products, egg, poultry, and fish, whereas nuts and legumes (for example, soybean and soybean products, peas, beans, among others) are extraordinary sources of vegetable protein. Of course, each type of protein will have different effects on your body and your treatment, so you should ask your doctor and your dietitian which one may work better for you.
Another tip that you should take into account when considering the type of food and recipes that you would like to try is to eat less salty foods. It is indeed better to forget about salty processed foods, even if you are not on dialysis. Now that you are on it, think about fresh, home-cooked foods, instead of restaurant meals. The latter are usually high in salt, whereas for the former you can decide which low-salt recipes would be better to cook at home. In the same sense, go for foods low in potassium and phosphorus, since it can be difficult for your kidneys to process them. Try vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and zucchini, which are low in potassium. And keep a close eye on dairy foods, since they tend to be quite high in phosphorus. Probably you will still be able to take them, but with moderation.
Finally, be careful with liquids. Your body can build up fluid if you drink too much, and as a consequence, you may have shortness of breath. So, keep an eye on them.