Without giving too much away, recently someone close to our family (Let's say Uncle M.) was diagnosed with a rather life changing condition.
Uncle M. and my aunt have always meant a lot to me. Even though the miles and living in different states have brought us further apart geographically as I got older, I admired the way that Uncle M. tolerated us as teenagers. He married my aunt when I was a teen and he had never been married and never had kids. And then he got thrown in to teenage hormonal chaos. Mostly female since girls outnumber the boys in the family. Talk about trial by fire. Yeah, I've actually grown to admire him A LOT more since I've had my own teenagers and gotten remarried. He must REALLY love my aunt. I admire any man that can take on that.
I've also been able to empathize with him. I grew up with one sister. Relatively quiet home. And then I married a man who had five siblings. Three of the five were still living at home and two of them were teenagers. I had never been to that loud of family events or gone to family reunions where you share an entire houseboat for a week with 20+ people. Once I became a teenager my parents got a second hotel room or a second bedroom on trips so they had their space and we had ours. Family events took on a whole new meaning after I first got married and took a few years to adjust to. I could remember my mother in law saying she thought I was upset at family events and it was mainly because I had never ever experienced anything like what I was and it was just super overwhelming to me. A few years down the road now I couldn't imagine it being quiet and not having large family events but back then--oh boy could I empathize with Uncle M. and what he must've gone through in those early days and years.
Uncle M. has always been good to my aunt and her kids and so when I found out he was needing to go on a renal chemo diet plan and my aunt reached out for help--I was excited for the challenge of finding stuff he could eat.
I want to disclose--I am in no way a dietician of any sort and you should contact your doctor or medical provider if you need--but hopefully this article gives you some ideas of meals, websites, etc. that provide information of things you can eat on a renal chemo diet. But every person's needs are unique.
One of the big challenges my aunt was having when she reached out was finding things he could eat. When the doctor hands you a list of things you can't eat it can be daunting and really overwhelming. I've been there and totally get it. It's also a little frustrating because as a patient you are left to care for your family member physically and now suddenly have to figure out how to feed them and sift through mountains of articles on the internet to find a few recipes or brands that will work.
I have several rules when you first go on any diet or lifestyle change whether like me for illness, food intolerances or even diseases like cancer.
- It has to be palatable. That means that you have to be able to find meals that have fit your previous taste buds and meals you are used to prior to your diagnosis. They have to be similar to what you are eating now but adjusted for your own personal dietary needs. I will sometimes flip on some of those weight loss shows and want to throw my shoe at the TV. They take people who have NOT eaten a salad in 20 years and suddenly have them eating salad. And then they wonder why by the reunion show they've gained all the weight back and then some. UGH!!!!! I always start with a softer approach if you can. When I switched my ex husband over to a new food or ingredient, I started with a gradual ¼ new ingredient ¾ regular ingredient. Slowly I let his palate adjust until he didn't recognize much of a difference in taste anymore. (This doesn't ALWAYS work like in the case of my uncle who had to do a drastic overnight change--STAT kind of diet change). So then I suggest googling meals you eat on a regular basis that fit your dietary needs (ex: me--fettucine alfredo--try googling something like "fodmap fettucine alfredo" until you find a recipe and picture and ingredients that look palatable to you that you could try.
- You need to be rational. That was a tough one for me. I had to be reasonable and make some sacrifices. Cinnamon rolls will NEVER taste the same to me gluten free as they do with gluten. They are terrible actually. Uncle M. will never be able to sit back and enjoy his favorite beer. But he can still enjoy a glass of wine from time to time. You will need to be rational that there are things you are going to miss and you are going to crave. You also have to know that you will be required to do a certain amount of cooking. Anything with heavy dietary restrictions unfortunately can be tough. You can't always find what you might be craving so you learn you need to make it or go without.
- It needs to be adaptable. Your new diet has to be accomodating to your current lifestyle. What was your lifestyle like BEFORE you got sick? I know a lot of people when they first get diagnosed with something, they want to quickly start cooking meals, etc. But then they quickly realize that their time is limited, and they are busy. If you were eating take out every night prior to your diagnosis you probably aren't suddenly going to be able to squeeze in time to cook for 30+ minutes every night. But if you start slow... you'll have a lot more success and it will quickly become an adaptable lifestyle change. For example, if you look under "Breakfast" down below you'll see I include a recipe that you make up and then freeze extras for a quick microwaveable meal later. I also included a meal that takes under a minute to make, and another staple that you make and freeze but use what you freeze for several other recipes.
I've compiled a huge list of renal chemo diet sites you can find that hopefully help you in all aspects. I know that new products, websites and recipes are constantly getting added so if you find some please leave a comment so we can continue to grow this list as a resource for others and Uncle M.
Buckwheat Pancakes with Raspberries, Walnuts and Maple Syrup: https://www.kidneycoach.com/313/buckwheat-pancakes-with-raspberries-walnuts-and-maple-syrup/*Hint: I always freeze my extra pancakes so I have a quick meal or snack on hand when I’m hungry. I just reheat them in the microwave.
40 Second Omelette: https://www.nwkidney.org/recipe/40-second-omlette/
Egg White Omelette with Asparagus and Goat Cheese (or Feta): https://kidneysdothat.satellitehealth.com/blog/2011/january/recipe-egg-white-omelette-with-asparagus-and-goa/ *Hint: Sub margarine for unsalted plant based butter or unsalted butter if allowed. I use Earth Balance or Melt and like it. Both can be found at the grocery store very easily. Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Vons, etc. should carry it. If you don’t like the taste of goat cheese, sub feta.
Cranberry Muffins with Sausage: Cranberry Muffin Recipe: https://ihatedialysis.com/forum/index.php?topic=16560.0 Hint: You can sub straight cranberry or apple juice for the cranapple juice if you like. You could also sub fine all natural cane sugar for white sugar (allow it to dissolve in the juice for several minutes for a smoother less coarse muffin). You can also add 1 tsp of orange zest to the mix and still be okay. Kidney Friendly Sausage: https://www.food.com/recipe/renal-friendly-homemade-sausage-patties-109125#activity-feed *Hint: I would make a batch of these and freeze the extra. You can reheat them in the microwave or on the stove when you are in need of a quick meal. If you want the traditional “sausage” taste, you may want to add ½ tsp fennel seeds to this recipe. This looks very easy to adapt and you could sub pork, beef or turkey depending on tastebuds and preference.
Egg and Sausage Muffin Breakfast Sandwich: https://www.davita.com/diet-nutrition/recipes/breakfast-brunch/egg-and-sausage-breakfast-sandwich *Hint: You can sub regular egg whites for the packaged egg whites and use the leftover sausage from the “cranberry muffins and sausage” recipe above.
Renal Chemo Friendly Bag Lunch Ideas: https://www.chop.edu/news/bag-lunch-ideas-patients-recommended-follow-renal-diets
Pear Arugula Salad: https://www.kidneycommunitykitchen.ca/archives/myrecipes/pear-and-arugula-salad/ Hint: Add some chicken for a meal. Omit chicken if on a low protein diet.
Pizza: Yeah, nothing tops a good pizza. https://www.davita.com/diet-nutrition/recipe-collections/top-7-pizzas-for-a-kidney-diet Hint: I do not like all the gluten free pizzas on the market. The crust is weird or they charge an arm and a leg and give you no toppings. So I’ll often make some pizzas up and then freeze them so I can pull them out on nights that I don’t want to cook. Which is like every night almost. So I might suggest after you try some of these recipes and find one you like to double it and eat one and freeze the other to have one on hand.
To Die For Chicken Fettucine Alfredo: https://www.kidneybuzz.com/daily-impact-meal/2015/10/14/to-die-for-chicken-fettuccine-alfredo
Pasta with Cheesy Meat Sauce: https://www.freseniuskidneycare.com/eating-well/recipes/dinners/pasta-with-cheesy-meat-sauce Hint: Sub pureed red or green bell peppers for the tomato sauce if needed.
Kentucky Fried Chicken Copy Cat--Baked Not Fried with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy: Fried Chicken Recipe: https://burntapple.com/2013/03/07/kfc-fried-chicken-recipe/ *Recipe substitutions: In place of the Mortons Season All substitute paprika and omit the salt or use salt substitute. If you cannot have butter, use no salt added plant based butter substitutions. Mashed Potato Recipe: https://www.kidneycommunitykitchen.ca/archives/myrecipes/double-boiled-mashed-potatoes/ Hint: If you really don’t feel comfortable with potatoes yet or know they will make you not feel well, try cauliflower mashed potatoes. Just a note, they DO NOT taste like mashed potatoes no matter how many recipes claim they do. I’ve tried most of them. If you find one that magically tastes like potatoes and not cauliflower let me know. Gravy Recipe: http://www.irishkidneydiet.ie/2019/11/30/low-salt-gravy/ or get a sample of some low sodium gravy here: https://rcfinefoods.com/product/low-sodium-instant-brown-gravy-mix/
Snacks for a Kidney Diet (Davita): https://www.davita.com/diet-nutrition/articles/advice/snacks-for-a-kidney-diet
“Chex” Mix: https://www.kidneycommunitykitchen.ca/archives/myrecipes/renal-snack-mix/
Baked Pita Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Dip: Baked Pita Chips: https://www.kidneycommunitykitchen.ca/archives/myrecipes/baked-pita-chips/ Roasted Red Pepper Dip: https://www.kidneycommunitykitchen.ca/archives/myrecipes/roasted-red-pepper-dip/
Nepro Shakes: Nepro shakes are single serving shakes you can take with you and are renal friendly. You may want to make sure that they fit your renal needs. https://nepro.com/products/vanilla-bottle
NuGo Bars: On the go bars for after dialysis or road trips, etc. I LOVE the chocolate mint gluten free ones but I don’t think they are included on their renal friendly brands If you can’t find these in stores than Amazon usually carries them. https://www.nugonutrition.com/dialysis-snack/
Popcorn: https://www.nwkidney.org/recipe/brown-bag-popcorn/ Plus 25 Salt Free Popcorn Seasonings (Just make sure you check some of the spices and ingredients to make sure they fit the renal diet https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/25-easy-delicious-ways-flavor-popcorn-without-salt
RESTAURANTS/MEAL DELIVERY SERVICES
Mom’s Meals: Offers pre made renal friendly meals delivered to your door. You get to decide what meals you want sent to you. Offers pre made breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. Some health insurances may offer a discount. https://www.momsmeals.com/our-food/nutrition/renal-friendly/
Renal Dining Out Guide: A quick list of things you can eat when dining out at various restaurants. https://health.ucdavis.edu/food-nutrition/pdf/Kidney%20Disease%20-%20Renal%20Dining%20Out%20Guide.pdf
In n' Out: Yes, you CAN go out and eat at your favorite burger place. (At least, it should be your favorite!) At a recent outing, the woman taking our order saw our dog in the car and said "oh, would you like a puppy patty for her?" When I asked her what she was talking about she told me it was a patty with no salt added. I asked if people could order a patty with no salt and she said, "absolutely! Just order a puppy patty (a no salt hamburger patty) with a bun! They can even order the In n' Out sauce on the side and use a little bit to flavor their hamburger if they would like." (I do not know if In n' Out sauce is considered kidney friendly).
POPULAR RENAL FRIENDLY OR RENAL EXCLUSIVE BRANDS
Benson’s Tasty Table: These come highly recommended as salt substitutes and seasonings like lemon herb, etc. If you scroll to the bottom of their ordering page you can try a sample for $1 or a sample pack of all of their seasonings for $9. That would be plenty of seasonings to have on hand for cooking for 2 people without having to buy a bottle. http://www.bensonsgourmetseasonings.com/saltfreeproducts.html
Flavis: This site sells pasta, bread and cookies in low protein renal friendly options. https://www.flavis.com/en/product-overview
Magic Kitchen: Premade freezer meals you can pop into the freezer and heat up. Great for busy days! They are pricey though at $12/meal. https://www.magickitchen.com/menu/MK-meals-dialysis.html
NovaSource Renal: A nutrition source for those with renal issues. Made by the Nestle Corp. May be covered under some insurances. “complete nutritional formula that provides protein, vitamins and minerals specifically to meet the needs of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) on dialysis, acute kidney injury (AKI), fluid restrictions due to CKD or AKI, or electrolyte restrictions. Its increased protein content also helps maintain lean muscle.” https://www.nestlenutritionstore.com/novasource-renal.html
Pancakes: Pancakes are like our lifeline around our house. When we need a quick at home meal they are so simple to make and easy for me because I can make a batch for me with my dietary needs and some regular ones for the kids. These are easy mixes you can have on hand or buy frozen at the store. https://kidneyrd.com/pancake-research-finding-the-best-pancakes-for-patients-with-kidney-disease/
Pre-Protein: Pre digested proteins offer 20gm of protein in a drink and are safe and easy to drink for renal and dialysis patients. May be covered under insurance. LOVE that this offers an easy protein for those who cant have a lot of protein--pre digested proteins are MUCH more easily processed by the body. https://www.pre-protein.com/#/
St. Michaels: This online book offers names of brands that can be easily purchased at grocery stores, meal ideas, etc. Just cross off items that might not be tolerated well on the easy to print itemized food lists provided. http://www.stmichaelshospital.com/pdf/programs/hemodialysis/grocery-shopping-guide.pdf
Suplena: Another all in one nutritional source for people with kidney disease. This one has a few more noted restrictions than the Novasource so it would be highly recommended to make sure it will fit your dietary needs. https://abbottnutrition.com/suplena-with-carbsteady
VidaFuel: Has kidney friendly “potato” chips, etc. for sale. They offer an inexpensive sample pack for purchase so you can see if it’s a product you want to continue to buy. Amazon sells them too. https://www.vida-fuel.com/
ADDITIONAL ONLINE RESOURCES
Kidney Friendly Recipes **HUGE**: Everytime I was searching for a recipe I kept getting sent to this website. They have an extensive amount of recipes and snack ideas and pretty much EVERYTHING you could need food wise. If you’re craving something, they probably have an adapted recipe dhere for it: https://www.davita.com/diet-nutrition/recipes
Kidney.org Online Cookbook: https://www.kidney.org/sites/default/files/docs/kidney_cookbook_lr.pdf
Kidney Care Online Recipe Resource **HUGE**: https://www.freseniuskidneycare.com/eating-well/recipes
What Cheese Can You Eat? https://blogs.davita.com/kidney-diet-tips/best-cheese-choices-kidney-diet/
Renal Friendly Grocery List: http://www.renvela.com/Docs/pdf/Renal%20Friendly%20Grocery%20List.pdf
Best “Milk” Brands: https://kidneyrd.com/is-your-milk-kidney-friendly/ Hint: I am not able to have milk so I have to use alternatives. I LOVE Nutpods non dairy unflavored creamer as a cream base for soups. It doesn’t have an aftertaste and works well for any recipe that calls for whipping cream (unless you are trying to ‘whip’ it into peaks, etc which it won’t do. But if for instance a soup recipe calls for cream then you can sub Nutpods). Just check and make sure it is renal friendly!
What Alcohol Can You Drink on a Renal Chemo Diet? (For Uncle M.): https://www.kidneycommunitykitchen.ca/archives/faqpost/how-much-alcohol-for-example-wine-or-beer-is-safe-for-people-with-kidney-disease/
The Kidney Guy: https://thekidneyguy.com/