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Mar 24, 2021

Canadians and Kidney Disease: ‘Finding your Healthy’

In a world of splashy digital marketing promoting the latest trends in healthy eating, the road to sound nutrition is often difficult to navigate.  Mixed messages, coupled with the daily dietary challenges of living with a chronic condition like kidney disease, can leave some people feeling entirely overwhelmed come mealtime. 

March is Nutrition Month in Canada and dietitians across the country are busy promoting the theme of Finding your Healthy, which explores the different ways that culture, personal circumstances and nutritional needs influence food habits and well-being.  

“Finding your healthy means that you, as an individual, are more than just the food you eat and the exercise you do,” says Dani Renouf, a clinical resource dietitian at St. Paul's University Hospital in Vancouver.  “It involves a holistic approach to your health, where you are in the driver's seat, directing your priorities.  Your health care team, including your dietitian, is there to support your goals, and to provide you with the answers you need to work on what matters to you most in the present moment.”

As March is also Kidney Health Month, The Kidney Foundation of Canada is encouraging people to recognize the important role the kidneys play and how diet can directly affect organ function. Aside from being a crucial part of an individual’s treatment plan, diet is a contributing factor to weight control, the management of coexisting health conditions (ex. diabetes and high blood pressure) and – most importantly – the prevention of toxin build-up in the kidneys.

The Foundation’s Kidney Community Kitchen designed to help navigate the challenging topic of kidney health and nutrition. The website offers dietitian-approved and kidney-friendly recipes, a breakdown of nutrients and various tips and tricks to managing a renal diet. 

“Nutrition is a science as well as an art,” explains Gurpreet Virk, a renal dietitian and certified diabetes educator who works at the Northern Alberta Renal Program at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and volunteers with the Kidney Community Kitchen.  “With kidney disease, multiple dietary restrictions can make it challenging to eat a balanced diet.  Nutrition therapy compliments medical therapy to promote effectiveness of treatment and achieve good health outcomes for patients.  In conjunction with lifestyle modifications, nutrition is paramount in achieving a healthy body and mind.”

While a regime for chronic kidney disease is often complex, it differs from person to person based on stage of disease, blood work results, medications, additional health conditions and other dietary requirements.  Kidney function shifts over time, therefore proper food and fluid choices are essential to avoiding complications and delaying the need for dialysis.

“It is challenging to make sound eating choices every day when you are living with kidney disease, however noticing even small changes that you can make in your day can make a big difference in the long run,” adds Renouf.  “The approach is to be gentle, kind and compassionate with yourself rather than viewing food choices as successes or failures. Every step you are taking toward better health and quality of life is beneficial!”

For more information on nutrition and kidney disease, visit our Nutrition page

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