5 Foods to Limit or Avoid if You're on Dialysis

By Susan Lupackino, MHS, RD, LDN

When your kidneys fail, they cannot clean the wastes and toxins that build up in your body from the foods you eat. Once your kidneys stop working, dialysis can help clean your blood. Healthy kidneys filter the blood 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Since dialysis treatments cannot replace this same workload, wastes can build up in your blood between dialysis treatments and make you sick. This is why it is important to watch what you eat and drink.

Here are 5 foods to limit if you’re on dialysis:

Foods with phosphate additives 
Foods such as deli meats, baked goods and soda contain phosphate additives. Phosphates are often used as a preservative in processed foods to extend the shelf life. Make sure to read the nutrition label carefully and look for anything that has “phos” in the ingredient list. Sodium phosphate is one example of a phosphate additive.

Bananas 
Bananas are very high in potassium. One banana has 422mg of potassium. However, patients on peritoneal dialysis may be able to have higher amounts of potassium.

Nuts and nut butters 
These are not only high in phosphorus, but also are high in potassium. One ounce of cashews (about 18 cashews) has 187mg of potassium and 150mg of phosphorus. One tablespoon of peanut butter contains 119mg of potassium. 

Chocolate 
A 3.5 ounce serving of dark chocolate has over 300mg of phosphorus. Chocolate also contains about 150mg of potassium.

Salty Meats
Bacon, ham, sausage, hot dogs, lunch meats, canned meats, and bologna are very high in sodium.