Being on dialysis during the COVID-19 pandemic adds questions and concerns. If you are on dialysis, you must continue to come for treatments and follow your kidney diet. As the food supply changes and people are asked to stay home, it is important to stock your pantry with kidney-friendly foods. Let’s review what that looks like.
You should store lower potassium canned fruits and vegetables. Good fruit choices include applesauce, fruit cocktail, peaches, pears, pineapple, or Mandarin oranges. Look for fruits canned in juice, not heavy syrup.
In addition to canned fruits, you can store canned juices like cranberry, apple, or grape. Lemonade, limeade, or fruit punch are other suitable choices for variety. Remember that the amount you drink should still be limited.
Choose vegetables labeled with “no salt added”. Keep green beans, corn, or mixed vegetables in your pantry for kidney-friendly choices.
You will also want to have low sodium proteins on hand. These include canned tuna, salmon, turkey, or chicken and shelf-stable tofu. Other options are no-salt added canned beans or unsalted nut butter. Shelf-stable milk or a milk alternative (such as rice, soy, or almond milks) are other helpful additions to your pantry. Servings of some of these foods may need to be limited, as advised by your dietitian.
From the grain group, choose white or sourdough bread; rice, corn, or oat cereal; cream of rice or wheat, oats, or grits; and pasta or rice. Unsalted crackers or pretzels can satisfy a craving for something crunchy. Animal crackers and vanilla wafers are good choices for something sweet.
People on dialysis may need extra calories from fats. Options to have on hand include olive oil, canola oil, unsalted butter or margarine, or mayonnaise.
Sweets are another way to get enough calories, if needed. Good choices include hard candies, jellybeans, marshmallows, honey, jam, jelly, or sugar. Sweets should usually be limited if you have diabetes, but this may be different in an emergency situation. If you have diabetes, talk with your dietitian about how sweets fit into your eating plan.
In addition to shelf-stable foods, fresh produce and meats will add variety and enjoyment to your kidney diet. Consider a grocery delivery service or ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to shop for you so that you do not have to go to the store. Stay at home except for coming to dialysis or other medical appointments. Wash produce before putting it away, and remember to wash your hands after handling groceries, and before preparing or eating food.
Consult your dietitian if you have questions or need more ideas to stay safe and healthy.
Rory C. Pace, MPH, RD, CSR, FAND is the Corporate Director of Nutrition Services at Satellite Healthcare.