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Food & Nutrition

Food for Thought with Chef O

Eating is a way of life, incorporated for most of us into our social circles and day-to-day activities. As a person living with kidney disease, monitoring what you eat becomes crucial in order to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle. What most newly diagnosed people with kidney disease don’t initially realize when they begin investigating the new changes to their diets, is that food can be a fun and rewarding experience in a whole new way.

Chef Oliver Hale began treatment for his kidney disease nearly 30 years ago. Today, he is an accomplished chef full of recipes and a vivacious attitude toward life. Chef O is not one to take life - or kidney disease - sitting down. He has always explored his passion for food by teaching himself, and others, how to adjust their diets in ways that suit their health needs and allow for creative freedom to have fun with food. He uses “Chef O’s Place,” a weekly cable cooking show (aired in the Grand Rapids, MI area), to encourage a healthy lifestyle of eating for everyone and to teach the utilization of natural or organic foods to improve health and reduce health risks.

“If I’m given a list of things I can’t eat because I have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), I take these into consideration, but then I think about the numerous amounts of things that I can enjoy. The dietary restrictions of this disease are only a hurdle that we can all overcome.”

This way of thinking has helped Chef O in all aspects of his diet and his career. He began cooking for people with kidney disease about 15 years ago and hasn’t stopped since. His enthusiastic nature in the kitchen inspires his thoughtful creations using kidney-friendly foods including: foods high in protein to help muscles, and food without salt to help with blood pressure and keep people from retaining fluid.

Though diet parameters may change based on the type of dialysis treatment you are receiving Peritoneal Dialysis (PD), Home Hemodialysis (HHD) or In-center Hemodialysis (ICHD), there are always foods and fabulous recipes to choose from and try out in your kitchen. Like Chef O, many people are constantly on the hunt for foods that satisfy but don’t overwhelm their diet. Here are a few recommendations from the Chef himself:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables steamed to bring out their full flavor
  • Proteins like yogurt, eggs, chicken, beef and fish without added salt, avoid processed meats/sausages

Mealtimes should be spaced out throughout the course of the day and you should spend more time eating during each sitting. “Eating 4-5 smaller meals per day without rushing can really improve your attitude about the foods you eat,” says Chef O, “its all about moderation and taking your time.”

Some of Chef O’s favorite kidney-friendly dishes he enjoys with his friends and family include pork roast with peach chutney, black-eyed pea salad, maple-glazed Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, and key lime pie. For recipes, visit him at or e-mail him at

Table for…Food?

Eating out is an experience. Between the atmosphere, the company and the food, it’s an important social event for many people. Living with CKD doesn’t mean living without food at your favorite restaurant. It does, however, mean that you have to be more conscious of what you order and ask more questions of your server.

For Chef O, eating out at some of his favorite locally-owned restaurants is always an enjoyable adventure. His suggestions for ordering while out include:

American - A grilled chicken breast without seasoning and vegetables and/or a salad

Italian - Salad and bread sticks, pasta

Seafood - Pasta with garlic, oil and crab meat

Latin - Chicken tacos

Chef O also suggests saving Asian dishes for special occasions as they are usually high in sodium and not the best choice for any kidney diet. Always try to look for high quality proteins cooked in a lean way, without excessive sauce or seasoning, as they are some of the best “go-to” options at any restaurant. Fresh salads with raw vegetables are another great choice and offer a low potassium meal.

Another tip to remember when eating out: ask for specially-prepared meals. Chef O suggests, “Explain to your server that you have special dietary restrictions and ask if you can have dressings and sauces on the side or if the chef can broil meats instead of baking or grilling them.” Many establishments are happy to work with diners to make the most of their visit.

Learn more about Chef O at his website or view his bio page.

Brought to You By Baxter Baxter