When Should I see a Dietitian if I Have Kidney Disease?

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Kidney disease can be a long battle.

Did you know there are 5 stages of kidney disease? And one of those stages can be broken down into to sub-stages.

Each of the stages will likely have a different health focus, so seeing a dietitian at any point in time can be extremely helpful in that the focus will change depending on your diagnosed stage.

This image, demonstrating the many stages of kidney disease is from the  National Kidney Foundation . You can see a dietitian at any stage of kidney disease, or even before diagnosis.

This image, demonstrating the many stages of kidney disease is from the National Kidney Foundation. You can see a dietitian at any stage of kidney disease, or even before diagnosis.

Before a diagnosis

You don’t need to wait to have a diagnosis of kidney disease before seeing a dietitian. Many of us have health insurance plans that will cover at least one, but sometimes unlimited visits with a dietitian.

Your dietitian can help you make the best choices in your diet to decrease your risk for kidney disease as much as possible. So if you have family members with kidney disease, diabetes, or hypertension, it can be very powerful to make changes now.

When you first find out

If your primary doctor tells you that you have kidney disease - or even “lower kidney function” - you have the power to ask for a referral to a dietitian. Get one-on-one time with a nutrition professional to review all parts of your diet, what to focus on and what to watch out for (like phosphorus).

This is a great time to start working with a dietitian as you have the advantage to slow down the progression of kidney disease with changes to your diet.

Making changes to your diet and lifestyle at this point can add years to your life before requiring dialysis or kidney transplant.

If your kidney disease stage changes

Whether it’s stage 2-to-3 or 4-to-3 or any other change, up or down, your diet recommendations may also change. Working with a dietitian to determine the primary focus of your diet with each stage can be helpful and will likely change from time to time.

When your kidney disease stage changes, your doctor may switch an emphasis from increasing a nutrient or limiting another. Ask for your lab results, recent and past, to give your dietitian information in determining the best diet for you.

Where to find a renal dietitian

If you know someone that you can work with, ask for a referral for that dietitian specifically. Or your doctor can help you find a dietitian and send you their way.

(For the record, here’s my referral form that your doctor can fill out and send to me.)

I have two recommended places that are beyond just “Googling” for a dietitian.

  1. Eat Right’s Find an Expert - you can search your zip code or area of expertise for dietitians that work in private practice.

  2. National Kidney Foundation’s CKD Dietitian Directory - a list of private practice dietitians that focus on helping those with chronic kidney disease, listed by state.

  3. Ask me!! Set up a free consult, tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll work to connect you to the right dietitian for your needs.

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Work with a dietitian for maximum kidney support

Renal dietitians are focused on helping you with taking care of your health and kidneys. We want to keep you away from dialysis for as long as possible with the goal of keeping up a good quality of life. Find the dietitian that feels like the best fit for you, no matter who that person is. You can truly earn years of extra time with your family and friends, enjoying life the way it’s mean to be enjoyed.