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The Best Renal Diet Cookbooks To Buy

Five Cookbooks with Renal Diet Recipes
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Navigating the world of kidney-friendly cookbooks can feel overwhelming! A renal dietitian breaks down which ones to buy, and which ones to avoid.

Table of Contents

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission when you purchase a product using my affiliate link.

Introduction

As a renal dietitian, I know navigating the world of kidney-friendly cookbooks can feel overwhelming. You want delicious recipes that fit your dietary restrictions but with many options on the shelves (and online!), it’s hard to know which ones are trustworthy and truly meet your needs.

But fear not! In this blog post, I’m here to guide you through the process of finding the perfect kidney-friendly cookbook to add flavor and variety to your meals, while still supporting your kidney health.

We’ll explore key factors to consider, from reputable sources and author credentials to recipe variety and emphasis on key nutrients for kidney health.

Next, I’ll highlight several of my favorite renal diet cookbooks – along with links to purchase, if you’re ready to expand your cookbook collection.

Finally, I’ll point out some poor-quality renal diet cookbooks. Learn how to recognize which ones to leave on the shelf, so you can save your money for a better option!

What Makes A Recipe Renal Friendly?

So, what sort of recipes are we looking for in these renal diet cookbooks, anyway? Great question.

But before we get any further, there’s an important caveat.

There is NOT one single “renal diet” for optimal kidney health. Eating right for the kidneys is NOT “one size fits all”!

When you have CKD, many factors will determine the right diet for you.

This includes your lab results, the cause of your CKD, any current medications, and other medical conditions. A renal dietitian can help you determine the best diet approach for you.

That said, renal dietitians generally agree on a few key points about kidney-friendly eating. Keep these things in mind while searching for kidney-friendly recipes and cookbooks.

Lower In Sodium

A kidney-friendly diet is a lower-sodium diet. Most people with kidney disease needs 2,300mg of sodium per day or less.

Look for recipes that keep the sodium in check. Some very salty ingredients that might show up in recipes include soy sauce, processed meats, and cheeses.

Limit very salty ingredients, or consider using alternatives. For example, swap coconut aminos into your recipe instead of soy sauce.

Protein Source

Everyone needs protein! But when you have kidney disease, the type of protein you choose is important.

Look for recipes that include preferred protein sources for CKD patients: lean proteins and plant-based options.

Plant proteins include things like beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds, and soy products.

It’s also important to note that protein needs are different by stage of CKD. For pre-dialysis CKD patients, lower protein diets are preferred. For patients on dialysis, higher protein diets are ideal. Your dietitian will tell you exactly how much is right for you.

Possible Focus on Potassium and Phosphorus

Potassium and phosphorus are two minerals found in the foods you eat, and also within your body.

Potassium helps with muscle contraction and nerve impulses. Phosphorus helps produce energy in the body. It is also the second most abundant mineral in your bones (after calcium).

When the kidneys aren’t working well, levels of potassium and phosphorus in the blood can become elevated.

However, it’s important to know that not everyone with CKD needs to worry about these minerals! Potassium and phosphorus generally only start to become a problem when eGFR is <30.

Phosphorus

If you do have high phosphorus, the goal isn’t necessarily to avoid all phosphorus-containing foods. A better approach is being aware of the different types of phosphorus in food.

Phosphorus from plant sources, like beans and nuts, is poorly absorbed and likely won’t have much impact on your labs.

However, phosphorus can also be found in foods in an added, artificial form. This is the kind to avoid. Added phosphorus from sources like lunchmeats and Coke is highly absorbed and can create more of a problem on your lab results. I wrote more about this here.

Potassium

As for potassium, you should know that there’s a lot of outdated info about potassium online. If your potassium is high, it’s probably not what you’re eating. Many non-food things – like medications, acidosis, insulin resistance, and constipation – can impact potassium levels.

In fact, more potassium can actually be beneficial for people with CKD since a higher potassium diet can improve blood pressure.

If your dietitian has advised you to keep potassium and/or phosphorus in mind, you’ll want to look for a book that discusses these important nutrients and includes them in the recipe nutrition facts.

Characteristics Of A Good Renal Diet Cookbook

Authored By An Expert

Cookbook authors are usually chefs and recipe creators – people who love to cook! And in many cases, it’s about the flavor rather than the nutrition.

But when you have CKD, managing your nutritional health is important. Therefore, you’ll want to look for renal diet cookbooks authored by a trustworthy professional, who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to kidney nutrition.

A cookbook written by a renal dietitian is a great example of this. Dietitians can be identified by their professional credentials RD/RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) and LD/LDN/CDN (Licensed or Certified Dietitian Nutritionist).

A book written by a renal dietitian should also include a professional biography. It may also include a link to the author’s website, social media pages, or other online presence.

Other reputable cookbooks may also be written by nephrologists or physicians. Any physician authoring a book should list their professional credentials (such as MD or DO) alongside their name.

If the cookbook is not written by a nutrition expert, a dietitian or physician should be involved in reviewing the book for accuracy.

Clear Instructions and Measurements

I think this should be a requirement of ALL cookbooks – but a good cookbook should have clear instructions and measurements.

Assuming all the recipes include nutrition information, you must also have accurate instructions and measurements to ensure your final product meets the expected nutritional breakdown.

Suggestions for Ingredients Swaps & Substitutions

Since each person’s renal diet is a little different, a great cookbook includes information on ingredient swaps.

For example, a recipe may call for almond milk, but suggest soy milk for patients needing a higher protein diet.

Nutrition Information Included With Each Recipe

Lastly — if it wasn’t obvious — a renal diet cookbook should include the nutritional information for each recipe! This helps you determine how each recipe might fit into your mealtime routine.

Side note: if you modify any ingredients or portions in the recipe, it will alter the final nutritional content. I suggest using a recipe calculator like the one on Cronometer.com to calculate the updated nutrition facts.

Best Renal Diet Cookbooks To Choose

You don’t have to do it all alone! To help you get started, here are some excellent renal diet cookbooks you can purchase online. All are authored by renal dietitians and/or physicians.

The Complete Renal Diet Cookbook by Emily Campbell RD, CDE

This cookbook is by Emily Campbell, a renal dietitian and diabetes educator based in Canada.

Emily’s cookbook is much more than a cookbook, as it begins by teaching you exactly what CKD is. The book also has guidelines on all five stages of chronic kidney disease along with key nutrition considerations for each.

You can check out Emily’s website to learn more about her.

πŸ›’ Buy The Complete Renal Diet Cookbook on Amazon

Renal Diet Cookbook for the Newly Diagnosed by Susan Zogheib, MHS, RD, LDN

Susan Zogheib is another renal dietitian who has written several cookbooks.

In The Renal Diet Cookbook for The Newly Diagnosed, Susan features 100+ recipes and 4 weekly meal plans. She also provides an overview of how kidney disease works, and how nutrition plays a role in keeping you healthy.

You can learn more about Susan on her website.

πŸ›’ Buy Renal Diet Cookbook for the Newly Diagnosed on Amazon

30-Minute Renal Diet Cookbook by Aisling Whelan, MS, RDN, CDN

In The 30-Minute Renal Diet Cookbook, renal dietitian Aisling Whelan offers easy and flavorful recipes for every stage of kidney disease. The book features over 100 recipes you can tailor and modify to meet your unique nutritional needs.

Learn more about Aisling on her website.

πŸ›’ Buy 30-Minute Renal Diet Cookbook on Amazon

The Cooking Doc’s Kidney-Healthy Cooking by Dr. Blake Shusterman

This cookbook is by Dr. Blake Shusterman, a nephrologist with a passion for cooking kidney-friendly meals!

In Kidney-Healthy Cooking, Dr. Blake offers a 10 step guide to managing kidney disease, plus 50 delicious recipes to help you get started. You can learn more from The Cooking Doc on his YouTube channel and his Instagram account.

πŸ›’ Buy The Cooking Doc’s Kidney-Healthy Cooking on Amazon

The IgAN Cookbook by Dr. Bruce Julian, Dr. Blake Shusterman, and Emma Ryan

If you aren’t familiar, IgA Nephropathy (or IgAN) is a genetic form of chronic kidney disease. In The IgAN Cookbook, you’ll find recipes and information to help you manage IgA Nephropathy. This cookbook and guide is by two physicians and a nutrition expert.

Learn more about Dr. Blake Shusterman (aka The Cooking Doc) here.

Learn more about Emma Ryan on her website.

πŸ›’ Buy The IgAN Cookbook on Amazon

Renal Diet Cookbooks To Avoid

Not all renal diet cookbooks are created equal. In fact, there are many that I would actively encourage you NOT to choose.

Unfortunately, there are many fraudulent, AI-generated cookbooks on the market these days. Especially when you search “renal diet cookbook” on Amazon.com you’ll find many of them.

Here are a few examples of what some of these books look like:

So, why are these fake books a problem?

Long story short, these books are NOT written by experts. They contain conflicting, outdated, and overall low quality information and recipes. These books are not just confusing, they also have the potential to be harmful to the reader.

When it comes to your health, it’s critical that you get your information from a trustworthy source!

There are far too many of these books on websites like Amazon to put together a list – the above photo is just a small selection. But, there are some common traits among these phony books.

How To Spot A Phony Renal Diet Cookbook

With some smart sleuthing, you can easily spot a fraud cookbook in the wild. Here are some common characteristics they share:

Generic Looking Cover

As you can see above, a lot of these cookbooks have a similar look. Oftentimes, they’ll even have the same name as well!

Sometimes the book cover will also include a stock photo of a “doctor” with a stethoscope, to give the appearance of being written by an expert. This brings me to my next point.

Dubious Author Credentials

Just because it looks like there’s a doctor on the cover, doesn’t mean the book was written by a doctor (or a dietitian).

If you read the author bio for many of these books, the bio DOES proclaim the author to be a “well known” or “respected” dietitian, nutritionist, or doctor. However, if I take a few moments to do a quick Google search for their name, inevitably nothing turns up.

If the author were truly the respected professional they claim to be, we’d certainly find evidence of them elsewhere online!

You’ll also note the lack of credentials listed in the author by-line for these books (such as RD or MD).

As a renal dietitian, believe me, I have worked way too hard to earn my credentials to NOT list them next to my name! So the fact that no credentials are listed is a huge red flag.

Claims To Contains Thousands of Recipes

Another thing you’ll notice on the cover is that these books claim to contain thousands of recipes (up to 3600!!). This is a shockingly large amount of recipes to feature in a single cookbook.

In contrast, the typical cookbook has closer to 100-150 recipes. By prominently featuring this large number, the publisher is hoping to catch your eye. They are trying to appeal to a subconscious part of your brain that believes “more” = “better”.

Conflicting Information Found Inside The Book

While the cover alone provides enough evidence that these books are a scam, I thought it was worth taking a peek inside as well.

Some of the issues I have found:

  • Telling you to avoid a specific ingredient, then using it in the recipes anyway
  • Missing nutrition information in some of the recipes
  • Inconsistencies in the formatting of recipes
  • Lack of clarity in the recipe instructions
  • Outdated information about kidney nutrition, based on guidance from 20+ years ago

If you download one yourself, you’ll soon find the same. These books are CLEARLY not written or edited by any sort of professional.

They should be setting off warning bells from cover to cover!

In Summary

While there’s not one single “renal diet”, finding a good renal diet cookbook can be super helpful. Especially if the book breaks down kidney nutrition by stage or by labs, allowing you to tailor recipes to meet your needs, that’s great!

However, be vigilant when making your book selections.

There are many fake β€œrenal diet” cookbooks on Amazon that appear to be written by AI, ChatGPT, etc.

These books are churned out and promoted to people like you, eagerly looking for meal ideas to help the kidneys. And the people behind these books are looking to take advantage of you. It’s extremely crappy, and as a dietitian it really makes me mad!

But by using your critical thinking skills to vet the cover, author, claims, and contents of the book, you can easily weed out these fraudsters. Instead, select books written by true professionals – people who actually want to see you thriving and managing kidney disease better.

And while cookbooks are a great start, sometimes you just need MORE to get your nutrition plan on track. For guidance personalized to you, I strongly encourage meeting with a Board Certified Renal Dietitian (like me!).

I’m also on InstagramTikTok, and Facebook dishing up helpful info and meal ideas. Until next time, be well. β€” Kate, Your Kidney Dietitian

Picture of Kate Zalewski, RDN, CSR, LDN

Kate Zalewski, RDN, CSR, LDN

Kate Zalewski is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition based in Chicago, Illinois. She helps people with kidney disease and other kidney health concerns navigate the complex and confusing world of nutrition. With a gentle yet realistic approach, Kate guides you in making changes that can improve your labs and slow disease progression, while still allowing you to enjoy the foods you eat. Book an appointment with Kate.

2 thoughts on “The Best Renal Diet Cookbooks To Buy”

  1. Hi Kate,
    Wow! Thank you so much for this powerful blog! I have looked online for renal based cookbooks, but hesitated to buy. I am a CKD patient in stage 3b, with several operations to remove kidney stones in 2020 and 2022. I am finally changing my eating habits to plant based with the help of Melanie B., Kellsey, and your sites on line. The 3 of you seem to have so much knowledge and are passionate about people like me, who struggle with this disease and finding authentic information.
    Again, thank you for your concern and continued help for people with CKD!
    Chris

    1. Hi Chris, thank you for the kind comment! I’m glad you found this article useful. Melanie and Kellsey are wonderful resources too – glad you are seeking out trusted sources of information. It can be so hard to navigate everything you read online, so my goal is always to make things more clear for everyone!

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