What's left to eat?
March 12, 2013 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Caring for a sick relative, recently released from the hospital, in my home. He is on both a low-sodium and a low-potassium diet. Please help me with meal planning before I go crazy!

All of the supposedly healthy foods that I love and serve my family often are suddenly a deathtrap. All kinds of fruits and vegetables -- from cantaloupe and oranges and bananas to avocados and spinach and asparagus and tomatoes and carrots -- are high in potassium. I read that onions and garlic are good, low-potassium foods -- but what the heck can I put them on? Googling tells me differing results w/r/t other specific foods as I search for them individually. So far I have been serving a lot of eggs and fish (nervously). Bonus points for a pescetarian-friendly lifestyle, since that's what I am... and thank you in advance!
posted by lgandme0717 to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can you have him ask his doctor for a list of foods that are safe? I would hope that any doctor prescribing a strict diet would have such a list. It should not be on a layperson to decide what foods are safe and what foods are a deathtrap.

Failing that, I would use the lists you're finding online as a starting point and run any candidates through the USDA database to confirm that they are OK. Don't blindly trust sites like Livestrong, Myfitnesspal, About.com, etc. - many of these are user-submitted and contain tons of errors.
posted by payoto at 5:35 PM on March 12, 2013

This site claims "simple but delicious kidney-friendly recipes, which are low in sodium, potassium and phosphorus and can be enjoyed by everyone".
posted by cecic at 5:36 PM on March 12, 2013

You probably already realize this, but just in case: onions and garlic are recommended not because they are exceptionally low in potassium, but rather because they have an exceptionally high flavor:potassium ratio.
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:38 PM on March 12, 2013

Your relative hopefully has access to a dietician and a social worker as a result of this recent hospitalization.

Please contact those people for suggestions and resources. Because things that count as 'low phosphorous' are sometimes thought of that way because they are better than the alternatives. (root beer and clear sodas are preferred over cola, for example) Patients get a ball park or an upper bound for the amount of phosphorous and potassium for their daily intake. So 'no brocoli' isn't the answer for every patient.

There are also potassium and phosphorous 'binders' that can be taken with meals. These are prescription medications and come with their own...considerations.

This is one of the questions the Internet really can't safely answer in a satisfactory way.
posted by bilabial at 7:06 PM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

This guide might be helpful. It's about dining out for kidney disease patients and it has meal suggestions and substitution suggestions. I agree with bilabial to see a RD.
posted by Ouisch at 7:23 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

You should definitely talk to a dietician/medical professional if serious medical issues are involved or your relative's sodium/potassium levels are very restricted. I have been on a low sodium diet since I was a small child and am very good at planning my diet and keeping my salt levels down. I still ended up going to the emergency room in college, because I wasn't a professional nutritionist and I accidentally gave myself a major calcium deficiency along with the low salt diet.

(You may also already know this, but you should look carefully at salt substitutes if you're using them in lieu of table salt. Many use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride.)
posted by angst at 8:16 PM on March 12, 2013

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