Dietary Considerations When Undergoing Kidney Dialysis

May 7th 2016

Your dietitian can help design a diet plan for you while you undergo hemodialysis treatment. Your doctor works in conjunction with a dietitian to provide the best possible care while you go through kidney dialysis.

General Guidelines

A hemodialysis diet revolves around high-protein foods and includes foods low in sodium, potassium and phosphorus. You must also monitor how much water and other fluids you consume, as your body can't rid itself of fluids as effectively.

Higher Protein

Protein helps maintain blood protein levels and improves overall health. Consume a high-protein food at every meal to reach between 8 to 10 ounces daily. Lean beef, fish, poultry, pork and egg whites all represent high-protein foods that dietitians recommend for a kidney dialysis diet. One serving, or 3 ounces, of meat is the size of a deck of cards, and could include a quarter-pound hamburger patty, a medium pork chop, one-half chicken breast or a medium-sized fish fillet. Avoid non-meat sources of protein such as peanut butter, nuts, seeds, peas and lentils because they have a high potassium and phosphorus content.

Reduce Sodium

Consume foods low in sodium to reduce your overall sodium intake. Ready-made meals, canned foods and frozen dinners all contain high amounts of sodium. Lower sodium levels reduce weight gain in between dialysis sessions and lower blood pressure. Sodium makes you thirsty, which may also increase your fluid intake. This makes the heart pump harder as it tries to move more fluid through the body, increasing blood pressure. Instead of salt, use herbs, spices and sodium-free flavor enhancers on your food.

Lower Potassium

All fruits and vegetables have some potassium in them. Limit or avoid high-potassium fruits such as oranges, prunes, bananas, raisins and melons. Instead, eat apples, berries, cherries, grapes and peaches. Other fruits to consider include pears, pineapples and plums. Avoid vegetables with high potassium levels, such as potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin, avocado and cooked spinach. Try green beans, broccoli, carrots, lettuce and onions for low-potassium alternatives. High potassium levels may cause muscle weakness and heart problems, and your potassium levels could build up in between dialysis sessions.

Limit Phosphorus

Most dairy products contain a lot of phosphorus. Some dairy products with lower amounts include sherbet, butter, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and brie cheese. High phosphorus levels could cause ulcers, weak bones, heart problems and joint pain. Your doctor may prescribe medicines that bind to phosphorus to keep phosphorus levels within a normal range.


Too much fluid intake between treatments may cause discomfort, swelling, high blood pressure or shortness of breath. Monitor your fluid consumption by recognizing that certain foods, such as gelatin, sauces, sherbet and gravies, have a high water content. Fruits and vegetables, including melons, grapes, apples, lettuce and celery, also contain a lot of water. Try to eat foods without much water in them so you can more easily keep track of your fluids between dialysis sessions.


Patients who undergo kidney dialysis, also known as hemodialysis, may need special diets that limit certain types of foods. Your nephrologist, or kidney specialist, along with a dietitian, can recommend what foods to eat. These are the general dietary guidelines for someone with impaired kidney function undergoing regular dialysis.

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