By Akhila Gullapuram, MS, RD
It is quite a delight to hear when someone on dialysis tells me that they have a very good appetite. It becomes so easier to suggest variety of foods to them. It is puzzling when they tell me there is no appetite at all. I rule out all the major causes and zero-in to “stress” as the cause some times.
Many guests when asked, deny having any kind of stress in their lives. It is a known fact that guest on dialysis have to eat differently than the way they were eating before dialysis. Some of them are used to eating really large amounts of salt. Even if they reduce it a little, the amount of salt is not anywhere close to what a renal diet allows. Some love potatoes so much that they never miss adding them to almost all the vegetables they eat. Leaching potatoes can be quite cumbersome for some as they never practiced it before. There are many changes required all of a sudden once you are on dialysis. You can’t eat whatever you like. Without making an effort to learn to cook interesting and delicious food on dialysis, eating low salt food by itself can make food uninteresting. This gap between the expectation and reality is what we call as “Stress”. Then there are many other things to worry about such as paying out of pocket,spending long hours on dialysis etc.
Many times I have noticed, that while I am teaching a guest how to fix his or her meal, they are thinking if they can reduce the number of dialysis sessions. If one can stop worrying about things too much and decrease the speed of the thought even for some time, there is a likelihood of them concentrating on things which can better their lives. To improve attention, we can simply use the knowledge of ancient Indian culture of meditation. Usually one concentrates on variety of things to meditate like on your breath or god figure etc. Guests on dialysis spend four long hours at the center and can actually help themselves to eat correctively by meditating on the food they eat. They can practice this as less as ten minutes each day while eating.
Meditative eating is about eating with attention and awareness of what you are eating. In today’s world, it is not uncommon to notice people multitasking while eating. People can attend phone calls, write an e- mail, watch a TV program, and eat their food all simultaneously. Many cannot recall the food they ate for just the previous meal, forget about a day before. When we do not pay attention to what we are eating, we are robbing ourselves of the “Joys of eating”. Also, lack of awareness of eating food leads to making unhealthy and unintentional choices.Through meditative eating we can make desired choices which are good for us. One can actually relish natural flavors of the food rather than additives like “salt”.
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”- Mohandas K. Gandhi
There are several people in this world suffering with various other issues and cannot even use their mouth to eat food. Feeling of gratitude can bring in a lot of love for the food that we eat. Calm your body and mind before you begin to eat through silence. Savor each bite through your physical senses, and mind. Noticing your reactions while eating will bring in lot of awareness and will decrease the gap between expectation and reality.
Your dietitian at NephroPlus can guide you step by step to meditate effectively on food to make better choices of food leading to successful dialysis.