Kidney Diet Tips

Diabetes and Dietary Patterns

November is American Diabetes Month in recognition of almost 30 million Americans with diabetes and 86 million with prediabetes.  Over the years many diet combinations have been prescribed to help manage blood glucose and fats. The current focus, instead specific nutrients like carbohydrate or fat, is on dietary patterns. This is a more holistic and practical approach that people with diabetes and prediabetes can better understand and embrace.

Dietary patterns consider whole foods and whole meals, not single nutrients. This shifts the focus to the kinds of food we select and eat for good health, rather than a balance of fats or carbohydrates. In my many years as a dietitian I have seen many patients who first need to learn about healthy eating before learning to count carbs or food choices.

Here are some of the guidelines of a focus on dietary patterns.

  • Focus on healthy dietary patterns and lifestyle instead of single nutrients.
  • Choose fresh cooked foods as often as possible.
  • Limit meat, fast foods, fried foods, processed food, fats, sugars, calories.
  • Eat to decrease your risk for unwanted weight gain, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
  • Think individualization No single nutrient distribution applies to everyone.
  • Consider a DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension), vegetarian, Pescatarian or  Mediterranean and diet pattern, as these patterns are associated with improved blood pressure, blood fats and weight.
  • Whole grains, complex unrefined
  • Fruits and vegetables are your food friends!
  • Even a small amount of nuts, seeds, and beans are full of health benefits.
  • Eat fish more often and limited meat to lean choices fewer times a week.
  • Use low or non-fat dairy products
  • Enjoy olive oil and red wine in moderation.
  • If you have kidney disease due to diabetes adapt minerals like potassium and phosphorus as kidney function declines. Never restrict foods unnecessarily—know your individual needs.


Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.