I recently donated my kidney and I am wondering if there are any foods or supplements that I need to avoid? What kind of a diet should I be following?

First, what a wonderful gift that you were able to give! I hope that your surgery went well and that you are recovering nicely. There are a few things that you should take into account when thinking about eating after surgery. It is recommended that you follow a reduced sodium diet. As Americans we are guilty of consuming entirely too much sodium which comes from fast food, snack food items, canned products, pre packaged rice and noodle side dishes, and using the salt shaker at the table. To reduce your salt intake, I recommend first determining what possible areas of your diet could use some improvement. If you consistently salt food at the table, remove the salt shaker from the table all together. Get into the habit of tasting the dish first and determine further taste needs from there. If you feel that the dish could use some seasoning, skip the salt and substitute fresh or dried herbs (oregano, basil, garlic, rosemary etc). I frequently will season boneless skinless chicken breasts with lemon juice and also sprinkle lemon juice over vegetables and rice. If you find yourself repeatedly reaching for potato chips or pretzels to snack on, consider air popping your own popcorn for a snack! This incidentally has a huge amount of healthy antioxidants. I will generally take my own pan popped corn and spray a little low fat cooking spray on top and then lightly dust with a little parmesan cheese. Other snack foods could consist of raw cut veggies dipped into a low sodium salad dressing. Fast food intake is generally high in calories, fat, and salt so do you best to limit the amount of times you go there and try planning ahead instead. Take the weekends to plan meals for the week and grocery shop/prepare and freeze a few meals in advance so you can avoid stopping at a fast food establishment.

In addition to reducing your salt intake, start to move towards an overall healthy diet. Avoid taking part in any “fad” diet that tells you to drastically reduce calories or exclude entire food groups. It is specifically suggested that you avoid following a fad diet that is very high in protein (Atkins Diet). Protein is an important part of the healing process so you need adequate amounts but doctors worry about taking in too much protein and possible strain on your remaining kidney. Speak directly to the surgeon that performed your surgery for specific advice regarding supplements and medication. It is generally recommended that you limit/avoid taking vitamins and herbal supplements. The doctor would also likely tell you to limit use of NSAID medications (Motrin, Advil etc) but let he/she give you direct advice about that. Finally, an overall healthy diet including lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low fat dairy products is recommended. I would limit intake of products with a lot of added sugars and choose your fluid wisely. Water is great and in addition, healthy low sugar juice options (Healthy Balance and Cranberry Naturals) are fantastic ways to get fluid without all of the added sugar or calories.

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