Traditional strategies for management of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have not resulted in any change in the growing prevalence of CKD worldwide. A historic belief that eating healthily might ameliorate kidney disease still holds credibility in the 21(st) century. Dietary sodium restriction to <2.3 g daily, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and increased water consumption corresponding to a urine output of 3-4 l daily might slow the progression of early CKD, polycystic kidney disease or recurrent kidney stones. Current evidence suggests that a reduction in dietary net acid load could be beneficial in patients with CKD, but the supremacy of any particular diet has yet to be established. More trials of dietary interventions are needed, especially in diabetic nephropathy, before evidence-based recommendations can be made. In the meantime, nephrologists should discuss healthy dietary habits with their patients and provide individualized care aimed at maximizing the potential benefits of dietary intervention, reducing the incidence of CKD and delaying its progression to end-stage renal disease. Keeping in mind the lack of data on hard outcomes, dietary recommendations should take into account barriers to adherence and be tailored to different cultures, ethnicities and geographical locations.