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Diabetic Renal Diet: Care Instructions


Your food choices are important when you have diabetes and kidney disease. Planning meals that have the right amount of carbohydrate, protein, and other nutrients can help keep your blood sugar in your target range and help your kidneys work as well as possible.

Your doctor and dietitian will help you make an eating plan. You may need to limit salt, fluids, and protein. You also may need to limit minerals such as potassium and phosphorus. It takes planning, but there are plenty of tasty, healthy foods you can eat. Always talk with your doctor or dietitian before you make changes in your diet.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Work with your doctor or dietitian to create a food plan that guides your daily food choices.
  • Do not skip meals or go for many hours without eating.
  • Talk to your doctor or dietitian about ways to get more calories if you have a hard time eating enough.
  • If you would like to drink alcohol, ask your doctor if it's safe. Count it as part of your fluid allowance.

To get the right amount of protein

  • Ask your doctor or dietitian how much protein you can have each day. You need some protein to stay healthy.
  • Include all sources of protein in your daily protein count. Besides meat, poultry, and fish, protein is found in milk and milk products, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverage, and eggs. Check for protein on the Nutrition Facts table found on packages of food such as bread and cereal.
  • Learn more about protein and your kidney diet.

To limit salt (sodium)

  • Do not add salt to your food. And look for "reduced salt" or "low sodium" on labels.
  • Do not use a salt substitute or lite salt unless your doctor says it is okay. (These products are high in potassium.)
  • Avoid or use very small amounts of condiments and marinades. These include soy sauce, fish sauce, and barbecue sauce. They are high in sodium.
  • Avoid salted pretzels, chips, and other salted snacks.
  • Check for sodium on the Nutrition Facts table to become more aware of the sodium content of foods. Foods that are high in sodium include soups; many canned foods; cured, smoked, or dried meats; and many packaged foods.
  • For more tips on how to limit salt, check out Hold the Salt.

To control carbohydrate

  • Ask your dietitian how much carbohydrate you can have. Carbohydrate foods include:
    • Whole grain and refined breads and cereals, and some vegetables such as peas and beans.
    • Fruits, milk, and milk products (except cheese).
    • Candy, table sugar, and regular carbonated drinks.
  • Talk to your dietitian about how to manage eating sweets, including honey and sugar.

To limit fluids

  • Know how much fluid you can drink by asking your dietitian or doctor. Fill a pitcher with that amount of water every day. If you drink another fluid (such as coffee) that day, pour an equal amount out of the pitcher.
  • Foods that are liquid at room temperature count as fluids. These include ice, gelatin, ice pops, and ice cream.
  • Learn more about fluids and your kidney diet.

To limit potassium

  • Ask your healthcare provider how to change your diet to eat the amount of potassium that's right for you.
  • Fruits that are low in potassium include blueberries and raspberries.
  • Vegetables that are low in potassium include cucumbers and radishes.
  • Limit, or avoid high-potassium foods such as avocado, cooked greens (such as spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens), and potatoes.
    • Tip to lower potassium: Peel potatoes and cut into small cubes or shred before boiling. Discard the water.
  • Avoid processed foods that have reduced salt. Many of these foods replace salt with potassium, always check the ingredient list.
  • Learn more about potassium and your kidney diet.

To limit phosphorus

  • Ask your healthcare provider how to change your diet to eat the amount of phosphorus that's right for you.
  • Follow your doctor's or dietitian's plan for your limit on milk and milk products in your diet.
  • Limit nuts, peanut butter, seeds, and legumes and pulses. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan eating style, a dietitian can help plan what works best for you.
  • Avoid processed meats like bacon and pepperoni, organ meats, salmon (canned with bones), and sardines.
  • Limit packaged foods and drinks with phosphate additives. This includes processed meats and cola. Your body absorbs phosphorus from additives more easily than phosphorus that is found naturally in food.
  • Avoid whole grains and whole wheat bread, bran breads or bran cereals. They are high in phosphorus.
  • Learn more about phosphorus and your kidney diet.

For more information about how to manage your diabetes and renal diets, see:

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