If you have kidney problems, your doctor may have recommended that you start a low-potassium diet to help you maintain normal heart function. A low-potassium diet is defined as one that contains less than 2000 milligrams of potassium per day. Less a strictly regimented diet than a dietary guideline, a low-potassium diet can be adopted by following these guidelines and incorporating these foods into your diet.
Learn to Read Labels
Starting a low-potassium diet means getting used to reading labels. Go through your pantry (or the grocery store aisles) and identify any foods that are high in potassium. Either throw them out, or limit their presence in your diet. Be sure to pay attention to serving-size levels when calculating the amount of potassium you may eat in one serving.
Learn to Identify High-Potassium Foods
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables don't come with labels. Until you get more familiar with the potassium levels in the fresh food you eat, check out the reference section for a helpful website that lists the "Potassium Content of Common Foods."
Hidden Danger: Do not ingest the liquid from canned goods or the juices from cooked meat. And avoid salt substitutes, which are also high in potassium.
Incorporate Low-Potassium Foods
Use the "Potassium Content" list in the Resources section below to identify low-potassium foods you should incorporate in your diet. Your low-potassium diet should contain a variety of these foods and a considerable amount of fruits and vegetables.
As you learn more about potassium content of common vegetables and fruits, you may be disturbed to find that some of your favorite veggies have a surprisingly high potassium content. While you should monitor your intake of these foods, there is a way to leach potassium from vegetables like potatoes, carrots and beets.
Peel them and slice them 1/8-inch thick. Then rinse them in warm water for a second or two before soaking them in warm water (roughly a 10:1 water to vegetable ratio) for at least two hours. Then rinse them under warm water for a few more seconds. Finally, boil them in water (roughly a 5:1 water-to-vegetable ratio).
Plan Your Meals
Now that you are more educated about high- and low-potassium foods, you have the tools to plan your diet. Every Sunday, sit down and plan out your meals for the week, before heading out to the grocery store. Take out a calculator and add up your daily potassium intake to make sure it stays just under the levels your doctor recommended.
As you become more acclimated to the diet and familiar with the foods you can and cannot eat, meal planning will become almost second nature and you will spend less and less time planning your meals.