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Eat Right to Feel Right on Hemodialysis

On this page:

How to Use This Publication

When you start hemodialysis, you must make many changes in your life. Watching the foods you eat will make you healthier. This publication will help you choose the right foods.

Print this publication and use it with a dietitian to help you learn how to eat right to feel right on hemodialysis. Read one section at a time. Then go through the exercise for that section with your dietitian.

Once you have completed every exercise, keep a copy of this publication to remind yourself of foods you can eat and foods you need to avoid.

My dietitianís name is _____________________________

Phone ___________________

[Top]

How does food affect my hemodialysis?

Food gives you energy and helps your body repair itself. Food is broken down in your stomach and intestines. Your blood picks up nutrients from the digested food and carries them to all your body cells. These cells take nutrients from your blood and put waste products back into the bloodstream. When your kidneys were healthy, they worked around the clock to remove wastes from your blood. The wastes left your body when you urinated. Other wastes are removed in bowel movements.

Now that your kidneys have stopped working, hemodialysis removes wastes from your blood. But between dialysis sessions, wastes can build up in your blood and make you sick. You can reduce the amount of wastes by watching what you eat and drink. A good meal plan can improve your dialysis and your health.

Patient talking to a dietician.
Talk with a dietitian to learn how to eat right on hemodialysis.

Your clinic has a dietitian to help you plan meals. A dietitian specializes in food and nutrition. A dietitian with special training in care for kidney health is called a renal dietitian.

[Top]

What do I need to know about fluids?

You already know you need to watch how much you drink. Any food that is liquid at room temperature also contains water. These foods include soup, Jell-O, and ice cream. Many fruits and vegetables contain lots of water, too. They include melons, grapes, apples, oranges, tomatoes, lettuce, and celery. All these foods add to your fluid intake.

Fluid can build up between dialysis sessions, causing swelling and weight gain. The extra fluid affects your blood pressure and can make your heart work harder. You could have serious heart trouble from overloading your system with fluid.

Control Your Thirst

The best way to reduce fluid intake is to reduce thirst caused by the salt you eat. Avoid salty foods like chips and pretzels. Choose low-sodium products.

You can keep your fluids down by drinking from smaller cups or glasses. Freeze juice in an ice cube tray and eat it like a popsicle. (Remember to count the popsicle in your fluid allowance!) The dietitian will be able to give you other tips for managing your thirst.

Your dry weight is your weight after a dialysis session when all of the extra fluid in your body has been removed. If you let too much fluid build up between sessions, it is harder to get down to your proper dry weight. Your dry weight may change over a period of 3 to 6 weeks. Talk with your doctor regularly about what your dry weight should be.

My dry weight should be _____________.

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