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Kenmore nutritionist wins award for nutritional education
When Kenmore resident Katy Wilkens started working as an intern for Northwest Kidney Centers in 1975, she knew she'd found her calling.
"I fell in love working with dialysis patients," Wilkens said. "They are very committed, wonderful patients to educate and to work with."
Wilkens is now a registered dietician for Northwest Kidney Centers and manager of Nutrition & Fitness. She founded the Washington State Council on Renal Nutrition and the Northwest Renal Dietitians Conference. She flew to Las Vegas last week to receive the “Northwest Kidney Foundation Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award,” in recognition of a renal dietitian who has demonstrated exceptional contributions to the field of renal nutrition, specifically as it pertains to education.
"My whole goal is to keep people off dialysis by educating the public about nutrition," Wilkens said. "The instance of kidney failure is increasing dramatically in the United States because a lot of diets are too high in sodium. I stress the importance of exercise, weight control and sodium control."
Wilkens has a massive garden in her backyard in Kenmore, where she grows her own fruits and vegetables year-around. She cooks and develops countless heart and kidney-healthy recipes for Northwest Kidney Centers.
"I'm a passionate educator of dialysis patients because they have to really watch their diets," she said "They have seven different diets in one and it can be really complicated. They have to take in more calories, more protein and watch their vitamins and minerals."
Wilkens said her patients inspire her.
"I love my job," she said. "You watch as prolonging and bettering their life becomes the most important thing and they get rid of things in life that are not important. That really crystalizes your priorities and makes you appreciate everything you have."