I wanted to get a non-patient perspective on the renal diet, so I asked my stepmom, Cynde, about what it’s like to cater towards the restrictive nutrition:
How difficult is it to follow the renal diet?
“It is not that difficult to stay within those nutritional guidelines. It is, however, time-consuming because you must read all labels of all brands to get the lowest contents on those minerals or nutrients say like salt or potassium. You could be astonished at the different amounts of–let’s just say sodium–that there is in different brands of hamburger buns. Of course there are different sizes of buns and that would account for some differences but you have to learn to compare equal sizes or portions to discover which brand is best suited for that diet.
I would have to say for the person who has to go on a low sodium, low potassium diet that it’s the hardest thing learning how not to eat potato chips, salted nuts or salty type foods that you probably naturally crave. And then as far as the potassium part goes, well, if you are a milk drinker, you have to then learn not to drink so much milk. You have to learn those vegetables which are lower in potassium to be the vegetables of choice for you.”
Are there many resources available that you’ve found useful?
“There are web sites like DaVita, which is a dialysis center I believe, that has recipes to follow within those guidelines. Here’s the thing that also should be mentioned: often with kidney disease comes high blood pressure and so you have to follow guidelines for the salt restricted diet as well as the low potassium diet making that a bit more complicated if you have those two issues to deal with when it comes to reading recipes. But ultimately it’s not that difficult just to eliminate the salt from the recipes and don’t use salted butter and then you also have to learn that what ingredients can actually be like salt that aren’t specifically salt.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
“All-in-all, it has not been that difficult after the initial time investment of learning what to look for as far as how many grams of potassium or sodium something has. It does make it difficult to cook for the rest of family though because everyone else has to learn not to eat so much of those foods as well but then, is that such a bad thing? Because it’s a healthy diet for everyone.”
I found this pretty interesting. My dad seems to have a different perspective on the difficulties of maintaining a renal diet, as you saw in my previous post
. This makes me wonder: are we, as outsiders viewing this disease, undermining the difficulty of the renal diet? Do we have a tendency not to understand just how strict it is?
Just some things to consider.