One of the major parts of treating chronic kidney disease (CKD) is making significant changes to your diet. Although dietary changes will not cure CKD, they can help slow the progression of the disease.
Diabetes is a common precursor to developing CKD. Over time, the disease can damage the kidneys, leading to the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant. If you have been diagnosed with CKD, making dietary changes now to reduce your blood glucose might help. Generally, doctors and nutritionists will recommend eliminating sugar and processed foods from your diet. Additionally, your carb sources should be whole grains, and sometimes, fruit in small quantities. Eating more non-starchy vegetables is a way to bulk up your diet without the carbs. Unfortunately, since protein is a problem with CKD, you cannot increase this macronutrient to compensate for fewer carbs.
Your doctors will also recommend that you be more strict about your salt intake. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they cannot eliminate excess fluid and salt as easily. The combination of diuretics and eating a low or no salt diet can reduce the burden on your kidneys. To avoid salt, you will need to cook all your meals at home or only purchase convenience items when they are in their purest form. For example, pre-cut vegetables are a good compromise between eating a low-salt diet and putting in less effort in preparing meals. To make matters easier, any sources of protein can be pre-cooked in batches on one day each week and portioned out for each meal. When you face such strict guidelines on carbs, protein, and salt, meal preparation is vital to staying on track.
Keep Protein Low
How hard it is to reduce the protein in your diet will depend on the amount of restriction you face. People with early-stage CKD, for example, may face some degree of restriction but might be allowed a couple of servings of protein each day. Once CKD becomes advanced, protein should be nearly absent from your diet, making it harder to protect your kidneys and have a relatively normal diet. If you are only limited to a serving or less of protein each day, try to pick the meal when protein is the most meaningful. People who enjoy protein at dinner will likely find eating a breakfast and/or lunch that is primarily whole-grain carbs is easier to do, especially if there are more breakfast or brunch options available without protein.
Changing your diet to adapt to decreased kidney function is not easy, but it can help slow the progression of the disease. Paying attention to your doctor's recommendations and planning your meals is the easiest way to adhere to dietary changes. However, it is important to note that dietary changes may not be enough. Consult with your doctor to see if CKD treatment is also necessary.