Friday, September 28, 2012

absurdities of the kidney diet

As Julie's kidney function remains in decline and her diet gets stricter in order to compensate, many people have asked me an unwittingly vague and complicated question: "What can Julie eat?" I appreciate the question, but unfortunately the answer is somewhere between "almost everything" and "almost nothing." Here it is: she can eat a portion of anything that would not throw her strict daily regulation of sodium, protein, potassium, and phosphorus out of balance.

Not that helpful, right?

Unless you studied medicine (or chemistry?) or know someone with serious health issues, you probably know next to nothing about potassium and phosphorus. That's okay—we hardly knew anything either! They aren't required to show up on nutrition labels, but let me give you an idea of what this whole deal looks like. Julie has to be careful about (or even avoid altogether) the following:

  • anything from a can
  • anything from a jar
  • anything with preservatives
  • asparagus
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • beans
  • bread
  • cereal
  • cheese
  • chocolate
  • dark colas
  • grains (corn, rice, wheat, etc.)

      • meat
      • milk
      • mushrooms
      • nuts
      • pasta
      • potatoes
      • pumpkin
      • salad dressing
      • salt substitutes
      • soymilk
      • sweet potatoes
      • table salt
      • tomatoes

        This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, and portion control plays a huge part in the acceptability of each item, but it does make the following statements true for her:

        • White bread is better than wheat bread (less phosphorus)
        • Fruit snacks are better than fruit smoothies (less potassium)

        • Candy is an acceptable dietary staple (little to no sodium, protein, etc.)

        Let's dwell on that last one for a second: it is sometimes better for Julie to eat a small dinner and have a few pieces of supplemental Laffy Taffy. It's one of the easiest ways she can reach her minimum calorie goal. The weirdness of this shows up at the grocery store when the question, "How are we doing on candy—are we getting low?" is a serious one.

        If this doesn't answer your question about what she can eat, just know that we're still figuring it out as well.

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