Renal and Cardiac Diet Info ... I'd love some help!

By Kalima Latest Reply 2010-12-27 02:52:34 -0600
Started 2010-12-14 01:11:53 -0600

My dad recently had a double bypass and started emergency dialysis for renal failure. I am his oldest daughter and am caring for him until he gets back on his feet. I know there are plenty of diet restrictions to be aware of, and I'd love all the advice and help I can get. Recipes, tips, and cautionary tales are all welcome!

7 replies

Kalima 2010-12-23 16:02:54 -0600 Report

I apologize for taking so long to respond! My dad was released from the hospital on Monday and it has been a whirlwind of activities and emotions. He is on in-center hemodialysis three days a week for 3-4 hours a time. He had a few dialysis treatments in the hospital, which he thought were unpleasant but decent enough. However, his first treatment was Tuesday at a davita center and it was horrendous. The people were unorganized, barely talked to him, much less explained anything and didn't seem to care that it was his first time and it terrified him.

They used to numbing agent, barely spoke to him, and rarely checked on him. I had to get up and stomp around like a mama bear to get anything done for him. I'm not very scary as I'm only 5'3", but it just seemed so sterile and robotic and it was not a situation he was willing to accept. Dialysis is hard enough to swallow in theory, but when the experience itself is so awful, I can't blame my dad for wanting to veto it already.

Can I ask if your lovely bride had trouble dealing with it all? And if so, does she have any advice I could pass along to my dad? It is horribly sad and gut-wrenching to see him go through this in such a quick and abrupt manner.

I thank you for your support and advice, and hope you have a wonderful holiday season. :)

jayabee52 2010-12-24 00:25:32 -0600 Report

Please encourage dad to give it a bit more time. Both Jem (my bride) & I were treated at DaVita centers in different cities (she in San Francisco Bay area, & me in Las Vegas). While not the most exciting times, dialysis was OK for both of us.

The reason she was being dialyzed was different than mine, Mine was due to an infection of my kidneys, which eventually resolved well enough I no longer needed dialysis. Jem's dialysis was due to her heart condition, Her heart was not moving enough blood through her kidneys. They were trying to use dialysis to remove water from her system without relying so heavily on diuretics. At first they tried peritoneal dialysis, but she could not tolerate the ports which were used to put in and remove the dialysis solution because she had reactions to latex of which the ports were made. Then they tried hemodialysis, and that was ineffective for drawing off enough fluids off her body, so eventually, her renal Dr DC'd her dialysis altogether.

Unfortunately she herself cannot pass along any insights to your dad and you, since she passed from this life quietly in her sleep in late July 2010.(I believe due to her heart condition, but she had many life threatening conditions, any ONE could have taken her)

My counsel to you and your dad is give dialysis some more time. Give the techs & the nurses at DaVita some time. My first time was uncomfortable & scary. If dad &you get to know the techs and the RNs & the other workers and some of the other patients there I suspect it will get better. Part of what I went through when starting dialysis was that I felt like I really had no life ahead of me. I felt like I was a "dead man wakling" with no future. In fact I consulted with the social worker from the DaVita clinic and told her how I felt and that I was seriously considering not returning for further treatment. I, however eventually chose to continue because I didn't want to be a bad example for my 3 sons. I didn't want to just give up. And little did I know what life had in store for me. I eventually came off dialysis because my kidneys started working well enough I didn't need dialysis. And then I met "Jem" online and we hit it off. We made each other very happy. Jem had been totally blind at age 14 (a severe case of retinitis pigmentosa). Had a lot of other medical challenges (including congestive heart failure - tachycardia) too when I "met" her. She had been engaged 2 or 3 times, but never had been married. She had a master's degree in Social work, and I had a Master's degree in another helping profession, so we were closely matched intellectually and spiritually. We agreed that ours was a match made in heaven because we fit so well together.

The reason I tell you this sory about this part of my life is, had I quit dialysis, when I had thought to at the beginning of dialysis and let the disease take me, I would have missed out on a wonderful relationship with my bride Jem. It was a brief "ride" with her, but it enriched me in so many ways, it's fantastic. It was worth it.

That is why I encourage your dad to give it some more time. Who knows what may happen!

Kalima 2010-12-14 14:00:39 -0600 Report

What a wonderfully helpful thing to wake up to! Thank you so much for all of that information.

To clarify: my dad is also a person with t2 diabetes, is a renal patient, and is now a double bypass patient as well.

The nurses at the hospital have been very helpful, but the diet issues are very confusing indeed. For one diet he needs low sugar. For another diet it is no potassium, and no phosphorus. And yet, his lunches include rolls, milk, mashed potatoes and whole grains. He is very frustrated - as are we as his family - and once he is out of the hospital I will be making his food and do not want to feel guilty about possibly poisoning him or hurting him with the wrong foods!

Does anyone know of a website that lists the foods for the various diets? That might help clear my mind, or at least organize my thoughts.

Thank you so much James for the insight. I really appreciate it!

jayabee52 2010-12-14 15:16:57 -0600 Report

You are most welcome Kalima!

I forgot to ask what kind of dialysis is your dad on, hemodialysis, or peritoneal dialysis. (I assumed it was hemodialysis where they hook you up to a machine and run your blood through it for a set number of hours) Peritoneal you have a port installed in your abdomen and you pour a solution in to your peritoneal cavity, let it sit there for a period of time and then it is poured out of the body. My bride "Jem" had both kinds of dialysis, but couldn't handle the peritoneal because she was allergic to the latex ports (that was before I knew her - so I had never seen the PD done), so was switched to hemo.

Your question about foods moved me to search the search engine using the term "renal diet". I got several pages of hits.

Here's a seemingly very thorough discussion on "The Importance of Following a Renal-Friendly Diet" on the website of American Association of Kidney Patients

Here's a game from DaVita a dialysis company. It is called the "Phosphorus Challenge" here:

Here is a site by MedlinePlus (National Institutes of Health) about the kidney diet:

this "Diet for renal failure" is from

Here's a site which is basically a sales site for a kidney cookbook: They offer a sample of the cookbook and a weelky recipe. (before you buy a cookbook, check with the dialysis center your dad will be going to. Usually they have a RD on staff (maybe part time) who will meet with your dad and with you to give you recipes which are kidney friendly. (At least my clinic - DaVita - did).

I searched on an alternate term"renal recipes" and got several good hits

This one from DaVita: which has several links to various recipes, which should keep you busy for a while.

This from the American Kidney Fund recipes for living well: (There's also a link on the right side of that page which takes you to other renal recipe sites)

One more and I will conclude. this is from Kidney food: where you have a few recipes.

I pray this helps you. You might find more recipes should you desire by searching for renal recipes, because I have not exhausted the list.

Blessings to you and yours


jayabee52 2010-12-14 12:03:29 -0600 Report

Howdy Kalima!

You are to be commended, Kalima for taking on your Dad's care. Good for you.

Since you are asking the question in a diabetes ("DM") focused website I guess that he has DM AND renal failure because you didn't say specifically.

I am a renal patient and a person with t2 diabetes ("PWDt2"). back in Nov 2006 til July 2007 I had to do dialysis due to a kidney infection. Fortunately, the infection corrected enough that I could come off of dialysis, at least for a while. I very well may need to go back to dialysis in the future as my kidneys weaken, as they are slowly weakening.

If you can, ask your Dad's Dr if s/he could refer you to a CDE or RD who is a renal specialist.

From my perspective a DM diet and a Renal diet are often in conflict. Becausse for the DM diet you are better off eating whole grains, while the renal diet you should avoid whole grains. Because the whole grains have more potassium, and you want to lower your potassium & your phosphorus intake as much as possible.

Most foods have some potassium occuring naturally, but there are foods which have higher amounts, medium amounts and lower amounts. That's where the RD will be helpful to you, pointing you in the direction of foods which have low to medium amounts of potassium.

A few high potassium foods (off the top of my head - in no particular order) Peanut Butter, baked beans (actually any dried beans - green beans are OK), Whole grains bread, white potatoes (color of the insides, not color of the skin), banannas, liver (actually any "organ meat"), canned tuna and cheese. (It is interesting eating out, to say the least with all these restrictions)

Then there are foods and drinks which contain phosphorus. High phosphorus drinks are Koolaid, Cola drinks ( including Dr Pepper & mr Pibb - Root beer generally OK if they don't list Phosphoric Acid) and then Jello has phosphoric acid in it too. (I used to Love sugar free Jello)

You also should limit your proteins (this is where I fall down)

That's about all I can remember at this point.

Generally speaking most all of the veggies are moderate to low on the potassium content.

I pray this is helpful until you can go with your dad to the RD and hopefully get a better handle on this diet.

Even though I am no longer on dialysis I do try to follow a renal diet as much as possible, because I want to maintain what little Kidney function I have.

The renal Dr may have put your dad on a "potassium binder" which is generally taken with meals to bind with any potassium and it will be excreted in the stool.

I pray my ramblings have been helpful to you

Blessings to you and yours