Surveying the Supermarket
For some people, grocery shopping can be a labor of love. For others, it's just a labor. One thing is true in either case; with so much information and so many products to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
A great way to start your shopping is to “know before you go.” Make a list of all the foods you can and should eat on your new dialysis diet. Be sure to write down any special information you want to check on product labels (e.g. sodium levels, potassium levels, sugars (carbohydrates), etc.) Meal planning is another great way to be budget savvy while avoiding foods you shouldn’t eat.
Tom and Carol Musick, a couple who have lived with Tom’s kidney disease diet restrictions for a number of years, also separate their grocery list into columns as a simple way to stay focused at the store.
“There were many foods on the dialysis food list that Tom would never eat, so I went through and made a list of foods that he would eat, keeping them in proper columns. We tried to only buy the foods that were best for him and read labels to find foods that were low in phosphorus, low in potassium and high in protein. For a change, every now and then we would pick a food from the other groups (higher in phosphorus, higher in potassium or low in protein),” says Carol.
The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) has a list of kidney-healthy foods and foods to avoid that can be very helpful when navigating the food aisles. You'll also find nutrition information and lots of meal planning ideas at the National Kidney Foundation Kidney Kitchen (http://www.kidney.org/patients/kidneykitchen/index.cfm).
While shopping, stay away from processed foods and temptations like pizza or peanut butter that you might have indulged in before being diagnosed with kidney disease. Avoid the high-fat, salty snack aisle and stick to your pre-made list and buy as many fresh ingredients as possible in order to steer clear of the “don’t eat” foods. As a general rule, passing up pre-prepared foods is a good practice as most of them are high in sodium. However, there are some low-sodium items in the frozen area now that are delicious options for quick meals.
Here are some other great tasting items to pick up at your local supermarket that are ideal for the kidney-conscious diet:
Fresh Fruit - Apples, berries, grapes and pineapple
Veggies - Asparagus, carrots and cauliflower
Meat - Chicken breast, ground beef and white fish
Starches - Rice, frozen corn, and potatoes that have been peeled, diced and soaked in lots of water from two hours to overnight
Snacks - Fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, popcorn, shortbread cookies
Above all, it is of great importance to stay in close contact with your doctors, nutritionists and dietitians to make the right choices for your diet. In some cases, people have worked with their supermarket manager to create a kidney-friendly section. Remember, each person is different and has specific needs for their treatment. One last thought - don't categorize your new dietary needs as things you can't eat, but rather, think of them as an opportunity to discover wonderful new foods and recipes.