This is a special diet for people getting peritoneal dialysis.
The kidneys help filter waste from your body, control fluid levels, and keep potassium and sodium levels in balance. Dialysis can help by doing the work of the kidneys when they are not healthy enough.
In peritoneal dialysis, the lining of your stomach is used to filter the blood. The diet eases stress on the kidneys and helps dialysis work better by managing:
This diet is strict and may need to be changed as your kidney health changes. You will need to work with a dietitian to find out how much of each nutrient you can eat and to make a meal plan that is right for you.
You will need to manage:
You will need extra protein. Some of it is lost into the peritoneal fluid. Dialysis can cause protein deficiency and muscle loss when you do not eat enough. Your dietitian will tell you how much is right for you. Make sure that the protein you eat is high quality, such as meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Milk contains high-quality protein, but it is also high in potassium and phosphorous. Grains and veggies contain low-quality protein. You may need to eat less of these.
Sodium is found in table salt and many other foods. Most canned and processed foods have it in high amounts. It is easy to eat too much of it because it is in so many foods.
Too much sodium can cause fluid buildup and high blood pressure when the kidneys are not working well.
Dialysis can help remove some of the extra sodium, but it does not remove all of it. Limit how much is in your diet. Do not add salt to foods when you cook or eat. Use herbs and spices to flavor foods. Salt substitutes contain potassium and should not be used.
Potassium is found in many fruits and veggies. It is a mineral that is needed to help muscles like your heart work. Potassium can build up in the blood when you have kidney failure. This could cause heart failure.
Your potassium level will be watched closely when you are on dialysis. You may need to lower your intake. Foods high in potassium are potatoes, tomatoes, citrus fruits, avocados, bananas, and dried fruit. Try to choose low-potassium foods. You may still be able to eat small amounts of your favorite high-potassium foods. Your dietitian can help with this.
Phosphorous is another mineral that needs to be limited. It can draw calcium out of the bones when it builds up in the blood. This causes your bones to weaken. It is found in protein-rich foods, such as dairy products, meat, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Whole grains and cola also have phosphorous. Your doctor may have you take a medicine called a phosphate-binder. It soaks up extra phosphorous and passes it out in your stool.
Fluid is added and withdrawn from the peritoneal membrane during peritoneal dialysis. You may need to increase or decrease your fluid intake. It depends on the balance of it in your body. Many foods are made up of mostly fluid, such as fruits, soups, and dairy products. Taking in too much fluid can cause fluid buildup. This can lead to high blood pressure and edema.
The type of dialysis that you are having will give you some extra calories from the dialysis solution. The sugar in it gets absorbed into the blood and can provide an extra 500 calories per day. This differs from person to person. You may still need to raise your caloric intake. Your dietitian can help you with this.
This diet can differ a lot from 1 person to the next. Your health needs may also change over time. A dietitian can make a meal plan that is right for you. Here are some tips.
Do not eat too much salt:
Watch your fluids:
Keep track of how much food you are eating:
Cook at home more often:
Keep track of your calories. You may need to raise or lower how many calories you take in. Ask your dietitian for recipes for people on dialysis.
American Association of Kidney Patients
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Dietitians of Canada
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Nutrition and peritoneal dialysis. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/nutripd. Updated April 2019. Accessed June 17, 2019.
The peritoneal dialysis diet. DaVita website. Available at:
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Accessed June 14, 2019.
Peritoneal dialysis, continuous cycling (automated): performing. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated November 10, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2019.
Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 1/8/2020