The Dialysis Salt Challenge

We're challenging ourselves to elevate care by living a part of the patient experience.
What's it like trying to limit your sodium intake?

Salt Journals

Kathy, RN

To summarize I did not find this difficult, as I have done this before and have a 15 year history of checking Na and carbohydrate content of food and have developed food habits to support this. Of course, I go off the grid and have a salty lunch or dinner out from time to time. I typically don’t add salt in cooking, or minimum if I feel I need to. We add salt later if needed.

Tameka, RN

"By day five, I felt my patient’s pain and understood..."

The first day starts off with a challenge. I was called to work the floor at 5:00am therefore unable to cook breakfast or lunch. I had a piece of an employee’s birthday cake from Friday, tuna pack with 280mg, a fun size snicker in my desk drawer 80mg and about an ounce of almonds which is 45mg. It’s 3pm and I’m starving. I finally ran out to grab a bite to eat then realize anything that I eat would exceed my 2000mg daily limit and said okay I’ll do better tomorrow.

Day two, I felt better prepared. I had oatmeal. Lunch I had spinach and a packet of tuna. I have been drinking a lot of water because I’m hungry and didn’t want to buy processed foods.

By day five, I felt my patient’s pain and understood when they say they are trying and still end up with too much sodium in their diet. I can only imagine trying to eat healthy, prepare all your meals fresh, and on a limited budget. It is a challenge. The recommended daily amount of sodium can be done with meal preparation and planning. So on day 5, I just repeated day 2 and drank a lot of water to prevent snacking.

Linda, Social Worker

My 3 year old daughter even participated!

Dave Carter, COO

“Not being a big consumer of salt, I didn’t think this would impact me too much, but I was wrong.”

Well, this was quite the challenge, and something that I can say gives me a better appreciation for what many of our patients have to understand and endure, in living with Kidney disease. Prior to my engaging in this challenge, I had the mental mindset of how to change my ways but didn’t fully comprehend the daily attention and difficulty in staying within 2000mg a day. What would I have to give up that I typically eat and enjoy (milk, bagels, Coca-Cola, pizza...ugh!). I hate reading nutrition labels...very depressing! Not being a big consumer of salt, I didn’t think this would impact me too much, but I was wrong.

I probably noted most in my efforts, that I could not depend on eating at the quick meal offerings like Panera or Chipotle, when I work late and simply don’t want to meal prep after a long day at work. Focused on eating more vegetables and fruits, which are more healthy but not my favorite. The most difficult thing was in meal planning and thinking about what I can and cannot eat. I admit, I did fall off the wagon mid week, promising to run an extra mile or work out with a bit more intensity to make up for it. Bagels and any carbohydrates are my greatest downfall and what I craved the most!

The important thing is for me, I realized that while difficult, I can do it and live on a low sodium diet, but it does take continuous effort and focus. Keeping temptations out of the kitchen and stock more healthy choices was vital. To a patient I would say, yes it is difficult but it is manageable and there are healthy choices that do taste good. It’s hard to do it alone but if family or significant other supports the same diet, it makes it easier.

Finally, I greatly appreciate the wonderful knowledge and work our renal dietitians provide as it relates to proper diet and alternatives to make this type of lifestyle change. It’s a daunting task to make our daily eating habits conform to a new way of eating and can be overwhelming in finding good recipes that makes one feel good and taste good too. Going forward I will be much more cognizant of the foods I eat and will try to conform to the best of my abilities, with the exception of Coca-Cola! I have to have some vices remain!

Rick Barnett, CEO

After doing the Salt Challenge, I decided that I will continue to monitor my salt intake, which I did not think about previously. I was surprised how much salt was in the health bran flakes I eat regularly. I really learned the importance of comparing calories with salt content in food items.

Rory, Renal Dietitian

Using citrus for flavoring is a great way to limit sodium at meal time.