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For Patients & Families: Diet and Nutrition

diet and nutrition

overview and introduction

eating well, living well

Eating a good diet and getting enough exercise are important for every person's physical health and well-being, but they are even more important for people who need to actively monitor their kidney health.


When your kidneys are functioning normally they help you regulate the nutrients and minerals flowing through your body. But if you have kidney disease, your kidneys are usually not performing this job well enough. To make sure you get the right balance of protein, calories, vitamins, and minerals - and to help limit the build-up of waste in your blood stream - your health care provider will almost certainly recommend you take great care in planning your diet.


How you manage your diet will depend on many factors. Patients who are on dialysis, for instance, can have very different nutritional needs from someone who is in the early stages of chronic kidney disease. Additional health and medical conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, weight, etc.) can affect meal planning further.


For many patients looking to take control of their nutrition, it can be useful to work with a dietitian. Dietitians will help you plan your meals; identify food that is easy on your kidneys; and build individualized eating plans that address your specific health concerns, and make eating an enjoyable and nutritious experience. 

dietary consultations

dr. melissa prest

Our Foundation Dietitian, Dr. Melissa Prest,  DCN, MS, RDN, CSR, LDN, offers free consultations for patients with kidney disease, on dialysis, post transplant and their caregivers!

Consultations take place via telephone or Zoom. 

Changing your diet can change the trajectory of of your chronic kidney disease by slowing its progression. Dr. Prest can help you understand which foods affect your numbers and help you create a diet that works for your lifestyle. 

Set up your consultation below or give us a call at 312-321-1500.

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helpful resources

applications, cookbooks and community

For many patients battling kidney disease, managing the particulars of a kidney-friendly diet can be challenging. If you ever need a hand eating healthy, or are looking for some nutritional guidance, consider referencing the following apps, cookbooks, and online culinary resources.

Everyday Eating Cookbook 

The Everyday Eating Cookbook is presented by the Illinois Council on Renal Nutrition (ICRN). It is a unique, valuable kidney-health focused cookbook that offers:


  • Nutrient analysis for renal patients

  • Easy to make recipes that EVERYONE will enjoy

  • Exciting options for holiday menus and kids' cuisine

  • Tasty substitutions for each recipe


To order this TOTALLY FREE cookbook simply fill out the form below, and send it to our office at 

Sorry, international shipping is not available. Or download an electronic copy here. Questions? Please call (312) 321-1500.

Featured Recipe 

Rice with Green Chilies


1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies

1/3 cup chopped tomatillos

2 TBSP green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 TBSP olive oil

1 1/2 cups long-grain rice



  1. Blend green chilies, tomatillos, garlic, green onions, and broth until liquified. 

  2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add rice.  Sautee until opaque, about 5 minutes. 

  3. Add broth mixture to rice and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes; or until water is absorbed. 

Apps for Patients

Guidelines for Dietitians 

KDOQI clinical practice guidelines are world-renowned for improving the diagnosis and treatment of kidney disease. These guidelines have changed the practices of healthcare professionals and improved thousands lof lives. 


CRN Pocket Guide 

This resource from the National Kidney Foundation provides concentrated information that clinicians use on a regular basis and offers shortcuts to calculations for commonly used formulas and easy-to-find CKD nutrition information.


Kidney Diet Basics: Online References 

Nutrition is key to managing kidney disease and your overall health. Learn more about food and your kidneys here.:


Nutrition: Your dietary needs change, based on your stage of kidney disease. Find out more about nutrition at every stage. 

Spice Up Your Diet: Giving up salt does not mean giving up flavor. Learn to season your food with herbs and spices. Be creative and experiment for a new and exciting flavor.

Kidney Diets: Online References 

Many health care experts encourage patients battling kidney disease, diabetes, and/or hypertension to consider the following diets:


A Plant-Based Diet: Studies show that eating whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables is one of the most important ways to keep kidneys healthy.

DASH Diet: This diet helps decrease blood pressure, lowers the risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer, and reduces the risk of kidney stone formation.

diet & kidney disease

get started learning about eating with kidney disease

If you have kidney disease, your doctor will likely advise you to be more aware of the protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium in your diet. If you are in the early stages of CKD, there may be few, if any, limits on what you can eat. But as CKD progresses, you’ll have to be more careful about what you put into your body. For example: people with kidney failure who are on dialysis will have very different dietary needs than someone with stage 2 or 3 kidney disease.


It is important to remember that each patient's dietary needs are unique - they're based on the stage of your kidney disease, other medical conditions, medications, weight, and overall health. A dietitian can teach you to make the best food choices based on your lab tests and personal lifestyle. Our Foundation Dietitian, Dr. Melissa Prest, offers complimentary consultations for CKD patients and their caregivers.  To book your appointment, email her at or call 312-321-1500. 

CKD and Diet

diet & dialysis

learn how to eat well on dialysis

A well constructed meal plan can play a big role in your dialysis treatment. Some pieces of a dialysis diet will carry over from the earlier stages of kidney disease (lower salt, potassium and phosphorus), but there are two key nutritional differences to monitor once you begin dialysis treatments: proteins and fluids.


  • Proteins. Dialysis patients lose protein during treatment, which means they need to compensate by incorporating more protein into their meals. Protein can help maintain blood protein levels and improve health. Many doctors recommend you eat a high protein food (meat, fish, poultry, fresh pork, eggs, etc.) at every meal, or about 8 - 10 ounces of high protein foods everyday.


  • Fluids. Limiting fluids will help you feel better and stay healthier. Once you’re on dialysis, you may urinate very little - or not at all. Any extra fluid must be removed by dialysis, and consuming too much fluid may cause buildup between dialysis sessions, which may result in: headaches; swelling in your face, hands and feet (edema); trouble breathing; high blood pressure/stroke risk; heart damage (from stretching your heart with too much fluid).


Fluids are typically limited on a dialysis diet, but the exact amount you should have each day may depend on your health and the type of dialysis you’re on. People on at-home peritoneal dialysis may have fewer fluid restrictions, while people on in-center hemodialysis generally have greater limitations to their fluid intake. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about how to manage your fluids and feel your best. Our Foundation Dietitian, Dr. Melissa Prest, offers complimentary consultations for dialysis patients and their caregivers.  To book your appointment, email her at or call 312-321-1500. 

Dialysis and Diet


Transplants and Diet

diet & kidney transplants

explore how your diet changes after receiving a transplant

After a kidney transplant, your diet will still be an important part of maintaining your overall health, but managing your diet may be easier than it was when you were battling kidney disease and/or when you were on dialysis.


Use the following list of facts to begin learning about the role nutrition can play post-transplant, and find answers to some questions common to patients managing life with a new kidney. 

Our Foundation Dietitian, Dr. Melissa Prest, offers complimentary consultations for transplant patients and their caregivers.  To book your appointment, email her at or call 312-321-1500. 

Video Series

kidneys in the kitchen

shop healthy, eat healthy

Kidneys in the Kitchen is a video series from the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois and Registered Dietitian Dr. Melissa Prest. Each installment, we introduce you to new, healthy recipes, and offer tips and tricks for making smarter purchasing decisions at the grocery store.


Each installment of Kidneys in the Kitchen focuses on a different aspect of meal-planning and nutrition. But whether we're talking about snacks, seasonal produce, or well-balanced holiday feast, we'll always be focusing on helping you learn how to prepare healthy, delicious dishes.


For more information please contact Foundation Dietitian Melissa Prest at or (312) 321-1500.

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Want to watch past episodes? Just click

below to visit our video playlist.

de la cocina, a tu riñon

compre sano, coma sano

A través de nuestra serie De la Cocina, a tu riñon, usted podrá obtener más información sobre cómo cocinar alimentos saludables para las personas viviendo con enfermedad renal.

Cada capítulo de De la cocina, a tu riñon se enfoca en un aspecto diferente de nutrición y la planificación de comidas. Ya sea que estemos hablando de meriendas, productos de temporada o banquetes festivos bien balanceados, nuestro enfoque siempre será enseñarle como preparar platillos saludables y deliciosos.

Suscríbase a nuestro canal de YouTube para ver cada episodio.

Para obtener más información comuníquese con la dietista de la Fundación, Melissa Prest, por teléfono o correo electrónico: (312) 321-1500 |


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¿Quiere ver episodios pasados? Simplemente haga clic en el botón a continuación para visitar nuestra lista de videos.

NKFI kidney health resources

The information shared on this website has been reviewed by staff at the New York City headquarters of the National Kidney Foundation. Please note: material contained here are intended solely for reference. This material does not constitute medical advice; it is intended for informational purposes only. If you feel you need professional medical care, please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.

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