A regular viewer wrote on the KidneyBuzz.com Facebook Fan Page (61,000+ likes), "I am ravenous whilst on Dialysis - suffering from terrible hunger that I can not get rid of. It is torture sitting through Dialysis treatments and when I am done I have to eat a huge plate. I have gained several pounds since beginning Dialysis and I am considering skipping some treatments because I do not want to feel that way anymore. Is there anything that I can do?"
This patient is not alone. Many Chronic Kidney Disease patients who conduct Dialysis complain about a deep "hungry feeling" - almost as if they were "starving" and they have a huge appetite after treatment. Overnutrition (overeating) can develop into obesity as well as increase the risk of serious health conditions, including Cardiovascular Disease (leading cause of death in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Cancer, and Type II Diabetes. What's more, some Chronic Kidney Disease patients choose to skip Dialysis altogether because they do not want to feel hungry during treatments.
We basically feel hungry if our fat levels drop or the stomach is empty. That hungry feeling is caused by the brain triggering the release of a hormone called Ghrelin (hunger hormone). Dr. Kam Kalantar-Zadeh said, "Inadequate food intake, especially during Hemodialysis treatment days, is a common practice among American Dialysis patients, whereas in many other countries meals are routinely served during Dialysis treatment."
An obvious solution to this hunger problem is for Dialysis Facilities to offer meals or snacks to patients who are conducting treatments. While offering patients meals during Dialysis is a routine practice in most European countries with positive health outcomes, it is not common in the United States because of the risk of choking, infection, hygiene issues, fear of Hepatitis A, and the distraction of Patient Care Technicians (Techs).
Still, there are a few things Chronic Kidney Disease patients can do to avoid feeling starved and excessively hungry during Dialysis as well as limit overeating after treatments. Try these following tips:
Eat A Pre-Dialysis-Breakfast: Even if you have an early morning treatment, try to grab a quick breakfast before Dialysis. Your earlier snack does not have to be heavy or substitute eating after Dialysis Treatments, but it should cause you to feel less hungry and make treatments more bearable. This could include a quick grab-and-go cereal bar or a piece of low potassium fruit if you are planning to eat a full breakfast later. If you have a very early treatment then prepare breakfast or a pre-Dialysis snack before bed.
Meals On Dialysis Days: To improve their satisfaction on Dialysis Days, patients may consider eating meals that have higher protein content with lower phosphorus and potassium levels (egg whites, chunk light tuna, or skinless chicken). Researchers at Purdue University found that high-protein eaters felt more satisfied and less hungry. Still, Dialysis patients should not forget to take their phosphorus binders.
Bring Your Own Snack: Many Dialysis Centers do not encourage patients to eat during treatments. However, some patients have found success in asking their Social Workers or Nurses if they can have a small snack during treatments to avoid severe hunger. Hence, let your Healthcare Team know that you are feeling starved during treatments and they may accommodate you bringing a small snack to enjoy when you are feeling hungry. Try to pack a snack that is easy to eat, with little clean up, and one that does not require you to use your fingers in order to avoid infection.
Still Full-Blown Hungry?: If you are still feeling full-blown hunger before noon, after trying some of these tips, then there is a chance that you are just not eating enough in the morning. Shoot for a minimum of 250 calories and try to make it a habit. If you're feeling hungry between meals, a 150-calorie snack may possibly help to hold you over.
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