For most Americans, summertime means carefree cookouts and celebrations featuring delicious and bountiful food. However, for the nearly 400,000 Americans who are on dialysis due to kidney failure, unique dietary restrictions limit their food and fluid options, and their ability to fully enjoy summertime meals. But dialysis patients don’t have to give up the foods they love to follow a healthy renal diet. To help them enjoy flavorful, healthy meals, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, initiated a partnership with celebrity Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr., star of Food Network’s “Big Daddy’s House.” In collaboration with FMCNA dietitians, Chef McCargo has developed a list of helpful summer food selections and grilling tips for people with restricted diets due to kidney failure. To control their levels of potassium, people on dialysis have to limit their intake of many foods that are generally considered healthy, such as oranges and tomatoes. They also have to restrict their consumption of dairy products, nuts and dried beans to prevent excess phosphorus buildup, as well as salt and saturated fats. Too much liquid can lead to a buildup of excess fluid and other health complications. “Even with the dietary limits placed on them by kidney failure, there’s no reason dialysis patients can’t enjoy the satisfying flavors of healthy, low-fat foods cooked on the grill,” said Chef McCargo. “The following simple tips can help patients and their families prepare tasty, yet healthy meals that keep them feeling their best.” Five Tips for Dialysis Patients on Healthy Summer Eating
- Make a grocery list and stick to it. When choosing your grilling menu, pick foods high in protein and low in saturated fat, such as lean meats, poultry and fish.
- Choose dialysis-friendly fruits and vegetables. When grilling, use low-potassium vegetables such as summer squash, onions and peppers.
- Add flavor with herbs. Use seasonings instead of salt to flavor meats, side dishes and appetizers. Basil, rosemary, lemon and garlic are great ways to enhance the flavor of food, as is garlic powder or no-salt Italian seasoning.
- Be careful with cheese. Avoid high-phosphorous cheeses such as American and Parmesan. Instead, try substituting one ounce of mozzarella, Swiss, Provolone or brie when grilling.
- Watch your fluids. Hot weather tends to increase thirst. To avoid drinking excess water or other liquids, try sucking measured amounts of frozen grapes or ice cubes instead. Limiting salt intake can also reduce cravings for liquid.