How to Manage Diabetes with CKD: Controlling Your Blood Sugar Through Diet
Insulin and diabetes medications are important for managing blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. Equally critical is modifying your diet and dietary behaviors to keep blood sugar balanced.* There are six steps to take to ensure you’re following a diabetes-friendly diet and lifestyle.
1. Eat a diet for both diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) diagnoses
- Consume high-quality proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Look for ones that are low in potassium if your nephrologist has recommended you watch your potassium levels.
- Eat less high-sodium foods and less fat. One way to eat less unhealthy fat is to choose to bake, broil, or roast any meat you cook instead of frying it in oil, which is high in fat. You can also select reduced-fat options to keep your fat intake low.
2. Steer clear of simple sugars
Make sure to avoid or limit simple sugars that have a significant impact on blood sugar, such as:
- Jelly and jam
- White sugar (also referred to as table sugar, granulated sugar, or regular sugar)
The same goes for starches, like rice, pasta, cereal, and bread.
Complex carbohydrates are a better choice, as they have higher fiber content and contribute to feelings of satiety for a longer period. Examples of complex carbohydrates include peas, beans, vegetables, and whole grains, like brown rice or whole wheat bread.
3. Eat meals at the same time
If you eat your meals at the same time each day and avoid skipping meals, your blood sugar levels stay normal, allowing you to avoid becoming hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemic (high blood sugar).
4. Learn how to read a nutrition label
It’s important to understand the recommended serving sizes of the foods that you eat by checking the nutrition label. You can use a measuring cup to make sure you’re not eating excess amounts of food without a label. For example, eating half (½) of a cup of healthy grains, like brown rice, is recommended per meal.
5. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you
Prevent obesity by maintaining a healthy weight. This will put you in a better place to effectively manage your blood sugar. Make physical activity, including walking, strength exercises, or jogging, a priority in your daily regimen to help you do so.
6. Keep tabs on your blood sugar numbers
Continue to check your blood sugar as often as your physician recommends, which may be as often as three times a day. Write these numbers down in a logbook for you, your doctor(s), and your renal dietitian to reference. It’s also important to have your doctor check your hemoglobin A1C (A1C) level regularly so you can see how well you’re managing your blood sugar in the long-term.
Since many people with CKD have a coexisting diabetes condition, managing blood sugar is extremely important. Too-high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the kidneys. Consult with your renal dietitian to help you meet the above recommendations through specific goal setting.