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What To Eat After A Kidney Transplant

British Columbia Specific Information

What You Should and Shouldnt Eat or Drink After Your Kidney Transplant

Advance care planning is the process of thinking about and writing down your wishes or instructions for present or future health care treatment in the event you become incapable of deciding for yourself. The Ministry of Health encourages all capable adults to do advance care planning.

For more information on advance care planning in British Columbia, including how to get started making a plan, answers to frequently asked questions, resources for planning, links to the No CPR Form and more, see Advance Care Planning.

You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor’s recommendation. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Eating Less Saturated Fat And Trans Fat

Saturated fats can increase the cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of many diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, later in life.

Limit the amount of these foods, which are high in saturated fat:

  • meat products such as burgers, pies, sausages
  • butter and lard
  • pastry, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and toffees
  • coconut or palm oil
  • cream, including soured cream
  • mayonnaise.

Some foods, especially biscuits, cakes and fried snacks, contain a type of saturated fat called trans fats. These fats are made by hardening oil, and helps give foods a longer shelf life. They are often listed as hydrogenated fat on the food packaging.

Include Calcium And Vitamin D Rich Foods

Adequate calcium and vitamin D are essential for healthy bones. Aim to have 3 to 4 portions of high calcium foods each day. One portion is:

  • 13 pint / 200 ml of low fat or Super milk.
  • 1 carton of low fat or diet yoghurt.
  • 1 oz / 25 g of cheddar/hard cheese.
  • ½ tin of salmon or sardines .

Foods rich in vitamin D include: oily fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and trout. Eggs, and fortified foods such as milk, margarines and breakfast cereals.

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When Can I Go Back To Work After My Transplant

Our aim is to allow each transplant patient to return to an independent lifestyle with a good quality of life. Most transplant recipients remain off work for two to three months after the transplant but this depends on the individual patient and their occupation. Please discuss when you can return to work with the doctor caring for you.

Milk Dairy Products And Alternatives

Diet Plan After Kidney Transplant

Dairy products like milk and cheese or fortified soya milk and desserts, are great sources of protein, vitamins and minerals for your child.

These foods will help boost your childs calcium intake. This is especially important when he or she is taking steroid medicines, which can make the bones lose calcium and so reduce their strength.

If your child does not like or cannot drink milk, speak with your renal dietitian about other calcium-rich foods.

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What Matters Most To You

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to stop kidney dialysis

Reasons to continue dialysis

I’m ready to face my death and let my illness take its course.

I’m not ready to die.

I’m not happy with my quality of life.

I feel that my quality of life is okay right now.

Meeting my remaining life goals is not a priority for me.

I feel that dialysis can give me enough time to meet my remaining goals.

I don’t want to keep relying on others for help with my dialysis treatments.

It doesn’t bother me to rely on others for help.

What Are The Possible Problems After A Kidney Transplant

The donated kidney may start working right away or may take up to a few weeks to make urine. If the new kidney doesnt start working right away, youll need dialysis treatments to filter wastes and extra salt and fluid from your body until it starts working.

Other problems following kidney transplant are similar to other pelvic surgeries and may include

  • bleeding
  • hernia
  • pain or numbness along the inner thigh that usually goes away without treatment

Transplant rejection is rare right after surgery and can take days or weeks to occur. Rejection is less common when the new kidney is from a living donor than when its from a deceased donor.

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Diet After A Kidney Transplant

Before a kidney transplant, many children have restrictions on what they can eat and drink for example, much less of the minerals potassium and phosphate, which are found in many foods.

After a kidney transplant, most children can eat a diet that is much less restrictive and more varied. Your renal team will advise you on what your child can eat.

What To Expect In The First Few Days After Surgery


For the first 2-3 days after the operation you will be sore around the wound and will require strong painkillers given by injection. Over time, the pain will lessen, and painkilling tablets will be enough.

You may feel sick, so anti-sickness medication may be needed for the first few days.

Managing your pain

It is important that your pain is well controlled. There are specialist pain teams that can help, if needed.

Good pain control will help you get out of bed earlier, which works to reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs and lungs. It will also help you take deep breaths and reduce the risks of chest infections. However, painkillers have side effects, including sickness, itching, drowsiness, and constipation.

The nurses and doctors looking after you will keep a close eye on your pulse, blood pressure, temperature and urine output. You will need regular blood tests, as least once daily and sometimes more often.

To start with youll need fluid to be given to you through a drip .

It wont be long before you can start eating and drinking. This is usually within a day or two of the surgery. The transplant team will see you at least once a day and advise you about this.

Within a day or two you will be helped to sit up in bed and encouraged to start walking. The nurses and physiotherapists will help you. It is very important to get out of bed as soon as possible after your operation to reduce the risk of blood clots in your legs and lungs and other problems after surgery.

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Will I Have A Nutritional Plan To Follow

Yes. In order to monitor your weight gain after transplant surgery, a registered dietitian, a nutrition expert, will work with you to develop a nutritional plan. This plan will be determined by your weight, blood work results, kidney function, and medicines. The information in this handout describes some of the guidelines a dietitian might recommend for you. These guidelines cover only some of the changes that might take place in your diet. Your dietitian will plan a nutritional program to meet your personal needs.


As your new kidney begins to function, your body is able to rebuild bone mass that might have been lost during renal failure. While these hungry bones are busy gaining strength, your blood phosphorous level could drop quite low. Your dietitian will encourage you to eat foods high in phosphorous, such as low-fat dairy products. Your doctor might also order phosphorous pills.


Some transplant medicines might cause your potassium level to dramatically increase or decrease. This is a serious condition, but fortunately, it usually does not last long. In order to control your blood potassium level, make sure to eat the foods your dietitian recommends.

Sodium or salt


The Best Diet For Kidney Transplant Patient

Kidney transplant or renal transplantation, performed when the kidney disease is in the last stage. Patients should take special care of themselves after having a kidney transplant. Along with your living, food should also be taken special care of. You may get a new life after a kidney transplant, but one thing that should not be forgotten is dietary precautions. Yes, if you think that you can eat all kinds of things after a kidney transplant, then this is not true. Lets explore what diet for kidney patient requires.

Even after surgery, you should follow discipline regarding your food and drink. Actually, it may take up to 3-6 months for your body to recover completely after surgery. That is why kidney transplant patients should follow certain rules regarding their diet.

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What To Do When You Go Home

Once your kidney is working well you will no longer need to be on a special diet but it is important that you still watch what you eat and have a healthy balanced diet. This is particularly important as your transplantmedications can increase your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. These medications can also weaken your bones so you need to have a good intake of calcium and vitamin D.

Will I Put On Weight After My Transplant

What to Eat after Kidney Transplant, Part 1

Weight gain is common after successful transplant, particularly within the first year, and is often due to an increase in appetite and steroid immunosuppression.

Weight gain will increase blood pressure and your risk of diabetes after the transplant. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and perform regular exercise to keep your weight within the healthy range.

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Will I Have To Watch My Diet After A Transplant

Yes, your diet still plays a big role after a kidney transplant. It is important to keep a healthy weight and exercise regularly. A healthy, balanced diet will help prevent high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess weight gain and promote overall wellness and health.

After a kidney transplant, plan to follow a diet low in salt and high in fiber. A balanced diet includes a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, reduced-fat dairy products, whole grains, and plenty of water.

Additionally, you may need to avoid eating certain types of foods. Your healthcare team can help you understand which foods you should avoid and why. The dietitian at your transplant center can help you find a diet that is right for you.

Key Points To Remember

  • You may feel better on dialysis than you did before you started treatment. But if you have side effects , or if you start to have other problems, you may feel that continuing dialysis is too hard.
  • If dialysis lets you do the activities you enjoyed before, you may feel that it hasn’t changed your daily life that much. You may feel this way even if you can’t do all of your old activities. Or you may feel that your quality of life on dialysis is not good.
  • Your diagnosis of kidney failure may force you to rethink your goals for your future. If you feel that your life has been rewarding and that you have met many goals, you may feel okay about stopping dialysis. But if you have goals you have not yet met, you may want to continue dialysis.
  • Most people die within weeks of stopping dialysis. If you choose to stop dialysis, you should be ready to put your personal, financial, and legal affairs in order. You may want to continue dialysis if you aren’t ready to face these issues.
  • Clearly state your wishes to your family. If you decide to stop treatment, will your family understand your reasons? Do they support your decision to continue treatment?

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Choose Foods Low In Sugar

Too much sugar can cause weight gain andincrease your triglyceride and blood sugar levels.

  • Use artificial sweetener, for example: Canderel, Splenda or Hermesetas, instead of sugar.
  • Have diet minerals, sugar-free squashes or cordials instead of regular drinks.
  • Limit cakes, biscuits, puddings, sweets and chocolate.

Do I Still Need To Follow A Low


Most people still need to limit salt after they get a transplant, although it is different with each person. Transplant medicines, especially steroids, may cause your body to hold on to fluid, and salt makes this problem worse. Increased fluid in the body raises blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure is very important to your transplant. Your doctor will decide how much sodium is best for you. It is a good idea to limit foods high in salt, such as:

  • Table salt
  • Cured meats, such as ham, bacon, and sausage
  • Lunch meats, such as bologna, salami, and hot dogs
  • Pre-packaged frozen dinners
  • Ramen noodles, boxed noodles, and potato and rice mixes
  • Canned soups and pasta sauce
  • Pickled foods, such as olives, pickles, and sauerkraut
  • Snack foods, such as salted chips, nuts, pretzels, and popcorn

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Will I Gain Weight

Many people have a better appetite after they get a transplant, and they gain unwanted weight. It is important to eat the right portion sizes for weight management as well as blood sugar control. Limit high-calorie foods such as fatty foods, sweets, pastries, and other foods high in fat or sugar. You can help control your calories by eating:

  • Foods high in fiber, such as vegetables and fruits
  • Lean meat, skinned poultry and fish
  • Nonfat dairy products, such as skim milk
  • Sugar-free drinks like water, unsweetened tea, coffee or milk

Controlling your weight will lower your chance of having problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you gain unwanted weight, you will need to exercise more and follow a lower calorie diet. Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian to plan lower calorie meals and snacks.

What Can I Eat After My Transplant

There is no special diet after successful transplantation and most of the dialysis dietary restrictions are lifted. We would suggest that you follow a healthy and varied diet after transplantation with a low salt intake and more fruit and vegetables. You are able to drink alcohol after the transplant but only in moderation within the national guidelines of 14 units per week for women and 21 units per week for men. We ask you to avoid grapefruit juice, as this can affect the level of some immunosuppression tablets. If you need further advice, please ask your doctor or specialist nurse to refer you to a dietician.

For more information read our leaflet, dietary advice after a kidney transplant.

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Sexual Activity And Fertility

What happens to sexual function after kidney transplant?

Most sexual functions return after a successful transplant if the problem was due to kidney disease or dialysis. You and your spouse or significant other should talk to your transplant team about any problems with sexual function, or if you have questions about safe sex, contraception or pregnancy.

If I am a woman of child bearing age, can I become pregnant after kidney transplant?

Women of child bearing age should consult with their transplant physician regarding pregnancy and/or contraception. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your transplant team. Before becoming pregnant you should:

  • Wait at least 1 year after your transplant
  • Wait until your kidney function is stable
  • See an obstetrician who specializes in high risk pregnancies
  • Learn about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding. If you are interested in breastfeeding, it is very important to discuss the medications you are taking with your obstetrician. Some medicines can be passed on through your breast milk and can be harmful to your baby.

Healthy Eating Post Transplant:

  • Eat a variety of different foods.
  • Eat regular meals, avoid skipping meals.
  • Eat the right amount to be a healthy weight. Be careful with portion size
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre e.g. wholegrain breakfast cereals, granary or wholemeal bread.
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables . With no potassium restriction you can enjoy a greater variety of fruit and vegetables.
  • Dont eat too many foods that contain a lot of fat.
  • Dont have sugary foods and drinks too often.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly.
  • Dont add salt to your meals, avoid using salt in cooking and limit processed foods.

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What Is A Kidney Transplant

Kidneys are vital organs that filter blood to remove waste, extra fluid, and salt from the body. If they stop working, it’s called kidney failure. Someone with kidney failure must go on or get a kidney transplant.

A kidney transplant is an operation where doctors put a new kidney in the body of someone whose own kidneys no longer work. One healthy kidney will do the work of two failed kidneys.

Because people can survive with just one kidney, a living person can give a healthy kidney to someone with kidney failure. This is called being a donor. A kidney also can come from a donor who has recently died, but the wait for this kind of donated kidney can take a year or more.

Most kidney transplants are successful. People who have kidney transplants will take medicines for the rest of their lives to prevent the body from rejecting the kidney. Rejecting means that the body’s immune cells destroy the new kidney because they sense that it’s foreign.

But aside from that, many kids and teens who have kidney transplants go on to live normal, healthy lives after they recover from surgery.

Anxiety Depression And Mental Health

Getting a transplant is usually an exciting event, but because it is also a major life change, its normal to have all kinds of emotions afterward. If youre experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression or guilt, please know that you are not alone many transplant patients experience these feelings at first, for many reasons.

  • Mood changes may be a side effect of the immunosuppressant medicines you are taking.
  • You may feel stressed or anxious about your new lifestyle.
  • You may feel guilty about getting a kidney from a living or deceased donor.
  • If you have been on dialysis for a long time, you may feel guilty about leaving other dialysis patients behind once you get your transplant.
  • Your family members may also have emotional changes as they adjust to your new lifestyle.

You do not have to deal with these feelings alone. Getting a kidney transplant is a major life change, and it is normal to feel stressed and anxious about big life changes.

Reach out to your family and friends for support. Also, let your transplant team know about your emotional changes so they can help support you and adjust your medicines if needed. Your transplant team can also refer you to a mental health specialist.

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