Healthy kidneys remove waste from your blood and produce hormones your body needs. If your kidneys fail, you either need a kidney transplant or dialysis. Dialysis is a procedure that uses a machine to perform many of the functions of the kidney. Dialysis can help prevent problems resulting from kidney failure and it allows people with kidney failure to live productive lives. Dialysis filters your blood, and like a health kidney, removes waste from your blood. Patients using dialysis are also required to follow a strict diet in order to stay healthy. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. There are different advantages and disadvantages with both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. Talk to your doctor about which type of dialysis would work better for you.

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  • 1 Answer
    The following is a sample menu if you are on hemodialysis:

    • Cranberry juice, 4 ounces
    • Eggs (2) or 1/2 cup egg substitute
    • Toasted white bread, 2 slices, with butter or tub margarine or fruit spread
    • Coffee, 6 ounces
    • Tuna salad sandwich made with 3 ounces tuna on a hard roll with lettuce and mayonnaise (Other good choices for sandwiches include egg and chicken salad, lean roast beef, low-salt ham and turkey breast.)
    • Coleslaw, 1/2 cup
    • Pretzels (Salt-free or low-salt varieties)
    • Canned and drained peaches, 1/2 cup
    • Ginger ale, 8 ounces (Cola drinks are high in phosphorus. Choose ginger ale or lemon-lime beverages instead.)
    • Hamburger patty, 4 ounces on a bun with 1-2 teaspoons ketchup
    • Salad (1 cup): lettuce, cucumber, radishes, peppers, with olive oil and vinegar dressing
    • Lemonade, 8 ounces
    Aim for at least 2-3 fish meals each week. Many fish are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Tuna and salmon (rinsed or canned without salt) and shellfish are excellent heart-healthy protein choices.

    • Milk, 4 ounces
    • Slice of apple pie
    This meal plan provides 2,150 calories, 91 grams protein, 2,300 milligrams (mg) sodium, 1,800 mg (46 mEq) potassium, 950 mg phosphorus and 38 ounces of oral fluid.
  • 1 Answer
    Depending on your calorie needs, your dietitian may recommend high-calorie desserts if you are on hemodialysis. In general pies, cookies, sherbet and cakes are good choices, but limit dairy-based desserts and those made with chocolate, nuts and bananas. If you have diabetes, discuss low-carbohydrate dessert choices with your dietitian.
  • 1 Answer
    All vegetables have some potassium, but certain vegetables have more than others and should be limited or totally avoided if you are on hemodialysis. Limiting potassium intake protects your heart.
    Limit or avoid the following vegetables:
    • Potatoes (including french fries, potato chips and sweet potatoes)
    • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
    • Winter squash
    • Pumpkin
    • Asparagus
    • Avocado
    • Beets
    • Beet greens
    • Cooked spinach
    • Parsnips and rutabaga
  • 1 Answer
    All fruits have some potassium, but certain fruits have more than others and should be limited or totally avoided if you are on hemodialysis. Limiting potassium protects your heart.

    Limit or avoid the following fruits:
    • Oranges and orange juice
    • Kiwis
    • Nectarines
    • Prunes and prune juice
    • Raisins and dried fruit
    • Bananas
    • Melons (cantaloupe and honeydew)
    • Star fruit (carambola) -- always avoid this fruit.
  • 1 Answer
    All fruits have some potassium, but certain fruits have more than others and should be limited or totally avoided if you are on hemodialysis. Limiting potassium protects your heart.

    Eat 2-3 servings of low-potassium fruits each day. One serving equals 1/2 cup of fruit, 1 small fruit or 4 ounces of juice.

    The following are good examples of low-potassium fruits and fruit drinks:
    • Apple (1)
    • Berries (1/2 cup)
    • Cherries (10)
    • Fruit cocktail, drained (1/2 cup)
    • Grapes (15)
    • Peach (1 small fresh or canned, drained)
    • Pear, fresh or canned, drained (1 half)
    • Pineapple (1/2 cup canned, drained)
    • Plums (1-2)
    • Tangerine (1)
    • Watermelon (1 small wedge)
    • Apple cider
    • Cranberry juice cocktail
    • Grape juice
    • Lemonade
  • 1 Answer
    If you're starting on hemodialysis, dairy foods that are low in phosphorus include:
    • Butter and tub margarine
    • Cream cheese
    • Heavy cream
    • Ricotta cheese
    • Brie cheese
    • Non-dairy whipped topping
    • Sherbet
    Note, however, that if you have or are at risk for heart disease, some of the high-fat foods listed above may not be good choices for you.

    Certain brands of non-dairy milk (such as rice milk) and cream are low in phosphorus and potassium. Ask your dietitian for details.
  • 1 Answer
    If you are on hemodialysis, limit your intake of milk, yogurt and cheese to 1/2 cup milk or 1/2 cup yogurt or 1 ounce cheese per day. Most dairy foods are very high in phosphorus.

    Please note that the phosphorus content is the same for all types of dairy milk -- skim, low fat and whole. It's also important to remember to take your phosphate binders with every meal or snack.
  • 1 Answer
    If you are on hemodialysis, unless you need to limit your calorie intake for weight loss and/or manage carbohydrate intake for blood sugar control, you may eat as much as you desire of grains, cereals and breads. They are a good source of calories. Most people need 6-11 servings from this food group each day.

    Amounts equal to one serving:
    • 1 slice bread (white, rye or sourdough)
    • 1/2 English muffin
    • 1/2 bagel
    • 1/2 hamburger bun
    • 1/2 hot dog bun
    • 1 6-inch tortilla
    • 1/2 cup cooked pasta
    • 1/2 cup cooked white rice
    • 1/2 cup cooked cereal (like Cream of Wheat)
    • 1 cup cold cereal (like corn flakes or crispy rice)
    • 4 unsalted crackers
    • 1-1/2 cups unsalted popcorn
    • 10 vanilla wafers 
    Avoid whole grain and high fiber foods (like whole wheat bread, bran cereal and brown rice) to help you limit your intake of phosphorus. By limiting dairy-based foods, you protect your bones and blood vessels.
  • 1 Answer
    People on hemodialysis need to eat more protein. Dietary protein can help maintain blood protein levels and improve health. Eat a high protein food (meat, fish, poultry, fresh pork or eggs) at every meal, or about 8-10 ounces of high-protein foods every day.

    3 ounces of protein is roughly the size of a deck of cards. Some examples of 3 ounces includes a medium pork chop, a 1/4 pound hamburger patty, 1/2 chicken breast and a medium fish fillet.

    Some examples of 1 ounce of protein are 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute, 1/4 cup tuna, 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, 1 slice of low-sodium lunchmeat.

    Even though peanut butter, nuts, seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils have protein, these foods are generally not recommended for hemodialysis patients because they are high in both potassium and phosphorus.