Many of the diet restrictions you had when you were on dialysis are no longer needed after a kidney transplant. Being able to eat more foods and drink lots of water again are some of the most common benefits that kidney transplant recipients report.
The most important thing you can do to keep your new kidney healthy post-transplant is to take your immunosuppressant medicines every day, exactly as your doctor told you. These medicines can come with side effects because the medicines decrease the strength of your immune system.
One of the downsides of immunosuppressant medicines is the increased risk of food poisoning. For this reason, it very important to follow food safety tips to decrease your chances of getting a food-borne illness.
- Wash your hands before cooking and after EVERY time you handle meat, poultry, or fish
- Cook all your animal foods to a safe temperature
- Roasted meat: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Fish: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pork: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Ground meat: 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Eggs: 160 degrees Fahrenheit
- Poultry: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
- Wash all of your fruits and vegetables well
- Avoid foods that are unpasteurized (this is especially important when purchasing dairy or ciders from a farmers’ market or orchard)
- Use cutting boards that can be thoroughly washed with soap and water
- Use a clean cutting board for each preparation of raw meats, raw poultry, or raw fish
- Use a clean cutting board for cooked meats, poultry, or fish
- Use a clean cutting board for fruit and vegetables (it is ok to use the same cutting board for different fruits and vegetables)
After a transplant, some people gain weight. This is due to many reasons including the medicines you have to take. But another reason is because you can eat all of your favorite foods again. Being mindful of this can help you maintain a healthy weight.
These tips might help too:
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day (or as otherwise instructed by your transplant team)
- Choose non-processed foods to avoid added salt and sugar
- Cook at home
- Cook with very little oil and salt
- Add herb and spices to your dishes for BIG flavor
- Eat on a smaller plate (choose a 9 or 10-inch plate instead of a large dinner plate)
- Add an extra daily activity – for example take a brisk walk after dinner
These tips will help but nothing beats working with your transplant team and your transplant dietitian to make sure you and your new kidney are in the best health.