Setting & Keeping Up with Healthy Nutrition Goals for People with CKD
One of the most important things to do when diagnosed with chronic kidney disease is to eat a healthy diet. However, this can be difficult for many people. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and tricks that can help you maintain a healthy diet when you have CKD.
Why is nutrition so important for someone with CKD?
Nutrition is of the utmost importance to someone with CKD because it can help to slow the progression of the disease or improve kidney function. Your kidneys work to remove waste from your blood and fluid in your body and for someone with chronic kidney disease your kidneys are working harder than others.
So, in order to minimize the strain on the kidneys, improve your health, and help to keep your energy up, nutrition and diet are one of the main priorities to keep in mind with managing your CKD.
Understanding the Nutrients in Food & Your Chronic Kidney Disease
It is important to understand what is in your food and how it could affect your health. This is a well-known fact for everyone, but as we discussed above it is imperative for those with chronic kidney disease to understand why certain foods, fluids, and additives have to be minimized.
Caloric intake is essential to any healthy diet, and there are healthy limits based on each individual that you should aim to stay between. If you have CKD and want to make sure you are getting an appropriate number of calories you should talk to your physician or dietician to make sure you are on the right track. This is because if you take in an overabundance of calories this could cause you to gain weight and put a strain on your body.
The opposite is also true, if you do not eat enough calories then your body will start to use fat and muscles for fuel. Both of these scenarios can cause a strain on kidney health and your body. This is why you should set a goal with your dietician and stick to it! If you need to cut out calories, then you can cut down portion sizes, eliminate butter and other dairy products, and cut back on fried foods and sodas. If you want to increase your calories in a healthy way then you should find a few CKD-friendly recipes that may include sauteed or gravy-based dishes, eat hard candies, honey, or jellies, and drink beverages that contain calories.
If you are in the later stages of chronic kidney disease, you may be put on a low protein diet by your dietician. This is because protein is a big proponent of waste build-up in the bloodstream. While protein is a key part of healing and muscle building you and your dietician should decide what amount of it you may need each day.
Healthy proteins that are popular in CKD diets include turkey, chicken, and fish. However, you can also get protein from dairy products, eggs, and beans. So, depending on the stage of your kidney disease, your size and build, and other factors you and your dietitian can plan a protein goal which will work for you.
Sodium is a very big deal for those with kidney disease because it can cause your body to retain fluid. Fluid retention makes your heart and kidneys work harder and can elevate blood pressure levels. That is why you should try to eliminate as much salt from your diet as possible.
It may be impossible to avoid some salt in your diet, as you need some of it, but it is definitely an ingredient that you need to look out for and actively avoid as much as possible. You and your dietician can discuss your goals for this hidden additive and try to plan healthy meals you can enjoy, or discuss areas where you may be having difficulties removing sodium.
Potassium levels can be tricky, even for those without CKD, your diet should be balanced with this mineral and you should not take in too much or too little. For those with kidney disease, you will have more trouble filtering excess potassium out, which makes your watchfulness of foods and snacks that include this mineral even more crucial to your food choices.
Your dietician and physician can assess your current medications, diet, and kidney disease progression to tell you what level you need in your current diet plan. Many foods contain this mineral so it will be very easy to increase and decrease the levels with certain food intake.
Sugars can be a big deal in one’s diet especially if you have kidney disease and diabetes, as these can both be negatively affected by too much sugar in the body. Typically sugar intake is not a problem for those without diabetes, but since diabetes inhibits the body’s ability to properly process glucose in the blood, the kidneys can be put at risk.
This carbohydrate may cause weight gain and should be regulated in one’s diet even if they are not diabetic. If you have diabetes and kidney disease this needs to be highly regulated along with your blood sugar levels as increased blood glucose over long periods can cause further damage to the kidneys and their filters.
Similar to sugars carbohydrates should be regulated more closely for those with diabetes. Carbohydrates are good for energy and fiber intake which can help control weight, but an overconsumption of high carb unhealthy foods can lead to weight gain which will have ill effects for those dealing with CKD, so be mindful and talk to your doctor about a healthy intake of carbs for your current weight and disease stage.
As carbs are an important source of energy and your body constantly burns energy, you should be eating a lot of carbohydrates. The key is to eat healthy carbohydrates that contain nutrients and fibers, rather than over processed carbs which will fill up your caloric intake for the day without offering your body any essential nutrients.
Fats are an essential component of healthy food groups but should be consumed in moderation and in the correct form. The first thing to know about fats are that there are two types: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated is well-known as the unhealthy fat, which can cause issues with your heart, clogging arteries, and an increase in cholesterol levels.
Similarly, trans fats can be found in overly processed foods and snacks, which should be avoided for the same health risks associated with saturated fats. Unsaturated fats are the healthy fat, composed of things like fish, nuts, and olive oil. These are the best ways to incorporate fat into daily meals. For example, eating fish as your meal’s protein will keep your protein levels lower than things like chicken or beef and will help to improve cholesterol.
Why it’s important to set goals when you’re battling CKD
Setting goals when managing kidney disease is crucial to one’s health because it helps them track the amount of nutrients that you are taking in with your food. These goals help someone with CKD to be vigilant of their own health and their diet, and to really understand how what they’re eating may negatively or positively affect their body.
These goals will also help you combat the disease’s progression and make you feel better overall as you meet your lab result goals with your physician. Eating a healthy diet, setting goals, and being watchful of your own health helps to give someone with kidney disease more control over their illness and can improve their attitude and energy levels.
Example Nutritional Goals You May Want to Set
Some examples of nutritional goals you want to set may be putting a limit on certain proteins during the day or week. You could also make it a goal to consume as little sodium as possible and track the amounts in the foods you usually eat and find new ways to decrease them.
Another important goal for those with CKD is a limit on fluid intake if your doctor recommends this and is especially crucial for those who are on dialysis. If you are on dialysis, you likely have spoken to your dietician and doctor about how much fluid you should be consuming. This goal is central to a patient’s health because fluid retention can cause high blood pressure, swelling, and a possible drop in blood pressure during one’s dialysis treatments.
How to use a Journal or Goal Tracker
Using a journal or goal tracker may seem self-explanatory but many people organize differently than others or have trouble starting things like this. So, these are a few helpful apps that can assist you and your family in tracking your food and nutrient intake, and improving your kidney health in the process.
Easy To Use Journals & Goal Trackers
This is an app that can be used to track and search for nutrition values specifically related to kidney disease. The base program is free and allows you to log, track, and search for nutrition facts. It also lets you track your fluid intake. The premium option allows you to set targets, import recipes, and track your diabetes.
My Food Coach
This is another phone application that allows you to track and manage your nutrient goals. It offers personalized nutrition information for you and your family to keep track of, and that your physician or dietician can help to change should you need it. This app lets you import, search, and build shopping lists for recipes you find along your diet.
This application is only for fluid intake tracking, blood pressure, and weight management. However, if you are at risk for heart disease or you are currently on dialysis this is a very useful application for fighting against fluid retention and tracking your heart health. It also gives you risk factors and information about when you should call a doctor if your symptoms worsen.
Setting Nutrition Goals is an Important Part of Managing CKD
As you have read above nutrition goals are essential to managing one’s chronic kidney disease and making someone feel better overall. If you are managing CKD or you are a loved one trying to help set goals, then these tips will be sure to set you on the right path and help you both understand the importance of nutrition, diet planning, and goal tracking when it comes to taking control of your health and kidneys.