Eat Healthy

Eating properly will help you maintain kidney function and feel better overall.

Eating well is important for everyone but it’s critical for people with chronic kidney disease. Your diet will vary depending on the stage of your kidney disease, other health problems and type of treatment.


Pre-dialysis patients

There’s plenty you can do to help your kidneys now. Start by eating a healthy, balanced diet.


Meet with a dietitian

You can take control of your kidney disease by attending one of our free classes, taught by a Northwest Kidney Centers dietitian, before you start treatment. Sign up for our Eating Well, Living Well class to learn about diet changes you can make now.


Eat less salt

Eating less salt will help you control high blood pressure. Most of the salt in your diet comes from processed foods. Avoid salty, processed foods; try cooking some of our low-salt recipes at home.


 Visit your doctor to monitor potassium, phosphorous and protein

See your doctor regularly to keep potassium, phosphorous, protein and other diet needs in order.


Dialysis patients

Your nutrition requirements are affected by the type of dialysis treatment you chose: traditional hemodialysis (three times a week), frequent hemodialysis (five to six times a week), or peritoneal dialysis. However, there are general guidelines all patients on dialysis should follow.


Meet with a dialysis dietitian

Meet with a dialysis dietitian after your first treatment. Dialysis will change the way your body removes waste and your diet must change as well. Together, you and your dietitian will create an eating plan depending on the type of dialysis you will get, any other health issues you have and your overall activity.


Eat enough protein

Though you may have been told to limit protein before, once you start dialysis you will need to eat more of it. Dialysis patients should eat a high-protein food at every meal. Beef, fish, poultry, pork, tofu, and eggs are great sources of protein.


 Continue to eat less salty foods

Substitute fresh, home-cooked foods for salty processed foods. Limit restaurant meals, which are often high in salt, by cooking some of our low-salt recipes at home.


Limit fluids

Once you start dialysis, keep a close eye on the amount of liquid you take in. If you drink too much, fluid can build up in your body and lead to shortness of breath. Eating too many salty foods is the number one reason people drink too much fluid. Talk with your dietitian about ways to cut salt from your diet.


Choose foods low in potassium and phosphorus

Your kidneys may have trouble processing potassium and phosphorus. Choose vegetables low in potassium like broccoli, carrots and zucchini. Dairy foods can be quite high in phosphorus so limit milk and yogurt to, for example, half a cup a day. Try to work dairy alternatives and other vegetables low in potassium into your diet to help keep your potassium and phosphorous at the right levels.


Transplant patients

Follow the tips below to keep your new kidney healthy.


Meet with your transplant dietitian

Meet with your transplant dietitian before and after your transplant for personalized advice about how to care for your new kidney.


 Practice good food safety

You’ve worked so hard to get your new kidney, so work just as hard to keep it healthy. Make good choices at the store and at home. Avoid processed and prepared foods, and keep track of the amount of sodium in your diet. Ask your transplant dietitian if you need to monitor your potassium intake and maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting your new kidney in danger.

What’s in a portion?


1 serving of protein

  • 1 ounce meat, fish, poultry or cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup tuna, salmon, crab or lobster
  • 3 ounces of Greek yogurt



1 serving of low potassium fruits

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tangerine
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup pears, canned
  • 1/2 cup applesauce


1 serving of low potassium veggies

  • 4 spears asparagus
  • 1/2 cup corn, canned or frozen
  • 1 cup lettuce
  • 1/2 cup green beans
  • 1/2 cup peas



1 serving of phosphorous foods

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 ounces cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups most non-dairy products
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cream