November 26


The Right Diet for Diabetes and Kidney Damage

By Gabriela

November 26, 2021

Diabetes and kidney disease are two serious conditions that could be quite stressful sometimes. But, they can cause even more stress if we have to manage both of them at the same time. Poor diabetes management can often cause kidney damage, also known as diabetic nephropathy.

This is just one of the many health complications that could be a result of improper blood sugar control.

In fact, our constant high blood sugar could damage our kidneys long before we have symptoms. That’s why those with diabetes are recommended to do regular screenings for kidney disease.

However, if our chronic condition has already caused kidney damage, it’s up to us to prevent it from progressing into kidney failure.

We can do that by improving our blood sugar control, taking the prescribed medications on time, and following a specific diet.

The Right Diet

Following CDC will help us manage both conditions. That’s because too many carbs can raise blood sugar, too much sodium can increase fluid retention and blood pressure, and too much protein can be bad for our kidneys.

Even though proteins are recommended for these people, they are certainly not for people with kidney damage.

Still, be careful not to cause protein deficiency, as lack of protein can lead to unintended weight loss and malnutrition.

Since portion size is extremely important for these people, they should consult their doctor and dietitian for the right serving size.

Foods to Eat and Avoid

The following list is based on phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and high sugar content of specific foods. Still, consult a dietitian about each of them and the recommended serving size.

Carbohydrate Foods

Milk and Nondairy

Foods to Eat

Fat-free or skim milk, plain yogurt, non-dairy creamer, sugar-free pudding, sugar-free yogurt, sugar-free non-dairy frozen desserts, sugar-free ice cream.

Their portion size is mostly limited to four ounces because of their high potassium, protein, and phosphorus content.

Foods to Avoid

Buttermilk, chocolate milk, sugar-sweetened pudding, sweetened yogurt, sugar-sweetened non-dairy frozen desserts, sugar-sweetened ice cream.

Bread & Starches

Foods to Eat

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

Foods to Avoid

Frosted or sugar-coated cereals, bran bread, bran or granola, instant cereals, pancake mix, gingerbread, biscuits, cornbread mix, salted snacks like corn chips, potato chips, and crackers.

Whole wheat cereals including oatmeal, wheat flakes and raisin bran, and whole-grain hot cereals are richer in potassium and phosphorus than refined products.

Fruits & Juices

Foods to Eat

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

Foods to Avoid

Cantaloupe, bananas, avocados, dried fruits like raisins, dates, and prunes, honeydew melon, fresh pears, mangos, star fruit, kiwis, papaya, nectarines, pomegranate, oranges and orange juice, fruit canned in syrup.

Starchy Vegetables

Foods to Eat

Peas, corn, mixed vegetables with peas and corn (still, don’t overeat them as they are rich in phosphorus)

Foods to Avoid

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

Non-starchy Vegetables

Foods to Eat

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

Foods to Avoid

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

High Protein Foods

Eggs, Meats, and Cheeses

Foods to Eat

Poultry, lean cuts of meat, seafood, and fish; low-cholesterol egg substitute, eggs, cottage cheese (it’s high in sodium so consume it in limited amounts).

Foods to Avoid

Canned and luncheon meats, bacon, hot dogs, cheeses, sausage, nuts, organ meats, salami, pepperoni, salmon.

High-Fat Foods

Seasoning & Calories

Foods to Eat

Mayonnaise, tub or soft margarine low in trans fats, cream cheese, sour cream, low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat cream cheese, low-fat sour cream.

Foods to Avoid

Back fat, bacon fat, lard, butter, whipping cream, shortening, margarine rich in trans fats.


Beverages to Drink

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

Beverages to Avoid

Sodas (regular and diet), fruit juices, beer, water sweetened with fruit juices, fruit-flavored drinks, canned or bottled iced tea or lemonade with phosphoric acid, sugar, or syrup; lemonade or tea sweetened with sugar

Additional Sweet & Salty Foods to Limit

We can also try to limit the following sweet and salty foods:

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

Even though the list of foods to avoid is pretty long, there are plenty of foods to choose from to properly manage our diabetes and kidney disease. As an addition, here are a few tips to protect the kidneys.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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