Diet Tips for People with Diabetes and Kidney Disease

Diet is one of the most important treatments in managing diabetes and kidney disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney disease as a result of diabetes, you’ll need to work with a dietitian to create an eating plan that’s right for you. This plan will help manage your blood glucose levels and reduce the amount of waste and fluid your kidneys process.

Which nutrients do I need to regulate?

Your dietitian will give you nutritional guidelines that tell you how much protein, fat and carbohydrate you can eat, as well as how much potassium, phosphorus and sodium you can have each day. Because your diet needs to be lower in these minerals, you’ll limit or avoid certain foods, while planning your meals.

Portion control is also important. Talk to your dietitian regarding tips for accurately measuring a serving size. What may be measured as one serving on a regular diet may count as three servings on the kidney diet.

Your doctor and dietitian will also recommend you eat meals and snacks of the same size and calorie/carbohydrate content at certain times of the day to keep your blood glucose at an even level. .It’s important to check blood glucose levels often and share the results with your doctor.

What can I eat?

Below is an example of food choices that are usually recommended on a typical renal diabetic diet. This list is based on sodium, potassium, phosphorus and high sugar content of foods included. Ask your dietitian if you can have any of these listed foods and make sure you know what the recommended serving size should be.

Carbohydrate Foods

Milk and nondairy

Recommended     Avoid

Skim or fat-free milk, non-dairy creamer, plain yogurt, sugar-free yogurt, sugar-free pudding, sugar-free ice cream, sugar-free nondairy frozen desserts*

*Portions of dairy products are often limited to 4 ounces due to high protein, potassium or phosphorus content

Chocolate milk, buttermilk, sweetened yogurt, sugar sweetened pudding, sugar sweetened ice cream, sugar sweetened nondairy frozen desserts

Breads and starches

Recommended Avoid

White, wheat, rye, sourdough, whole wheat and whole grain bread, unsweetened, refined dry cereals, cream of wheat, grits, malt-o-meal, noodles, white or whole wheat pasta, rice, bagel (small), hamburger bun, unsalted crackers, cornbread (made from scratch), flour tortilla

Bran bread, frosted or sugar-coated cereals, instant cereals, bran or granola, gingerbread, pancake mix, cornbread mix, biscuits, salted snacks including: potato chips, corn chips and crackers Whole wheat cereals like wheat flakes and raisin bran, oatmeal, and whole grain hot cereals contain more phosphorus and potassium than refined products.

Fruits and juices 

Recommended Avoid

Apples, apple juice, applesauce, apricot halves, berries including: strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries and blueberries, low sugar cranberry juice, cherries, fruit cocktail, grapefruit, grapes, grape juice, kumquats, mandarin oranges, pears, pineapple, plums, tangerine, watermelon, fruit canned in unsweetened juice

Avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, dried fruits including: dates, raisins and prunes, fresh pears, honeydew melon, kiwis, kumquats, star fruit, mangos, papaya, nectarines, oranges and orange juice, pomegranate, fruit canned in syrup

Starchy vegetables

Recommended Avoid

Corn, peas, mixed vegetables with corn and peas (eat these less often because they are high in phosphorus), potatoes (soaked to reduce potassium, if needed)

Baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, baked beans, dried beans (kidneys, lima , lentil, pinto or soy), succotash, pumpkin, winter squash

Non-starchy vegetables

Recommended Avoid

Asparagus, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, frozen broccoli cuts, green beans, iceberg lettuce, kale, leeks, mustard greens, okra, onions, red and green peppers, radishes, raw spinach (1/2 cup), snow peas, summer squash, turnips

Artichoke, fresh bamboo shoots, beet greens, cactus, cooked Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, rutabagas, sauerkraut , cooked spinach, tomatoes, tomato sauce or paste, tomato juice, vegetable juice

Higher-protein foods

Meats, cheeses and eggs

Recommended Avoid

Lean cuts of meat, poultry, fish and seafood; eggs, low cholesterol egg substitute; cottage cheese (limited due to high sodium content)

Bacon, canned and luncheon meats, cheeses, hot dogs, organ meats, nuts, pepperoni, salami, salmon, sausage

Higher-fat foods

Seasoning and calories

Recommended Avoid

Soft or tub margarine low in trans fats, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, low fat mayonnaise, low fat sour cream, low fat cream cheese

Bacon fat, back fat, butter, Crisco®, lard, shortening, margarines high in trans fats, whipping cream

Beverages 

Recommended Avoid

Water, diet clear sodas, homemade tea or lemonade sweetened with an artificial sweetener

Regular or diet dark colas, beer, fruit juices, fruit-flavored drinks or water sweetened with fruit juices, bottled or canned iced tea or lemonade containing sugar, syrup, or phosphoric acid; tea or lemonade sweetened with real sugar

You may also be instructed to limit or avoid the following sweet and salty foods:

  • Candy
  • Chocolate Regular sugar
  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Baked goods
  • Ice cream
  • Canned foods
  • Condiments
  • Onion, garlic or table salt
  • TV dinners
  • Meat tenderizer
  • Marinades
  • Nuts
  • Pizza
  • Salted chips and snacks

If you need extra help navigating the diabetes diet when you have kidney disease, sign up for the DaVita Diet Helper™, the easy-to-use online diet management tool.

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