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HealthInfo Canterbury

Eating well with diabetes

diabetes healthy plate HI

Eating healthy food is an important part of managing your diabetes.

Eating well with diabetes doesn't mean you need to eat different food from your family. But the carbohydrates you eat will directly affect your blood sugar levels. You need to know how much carbohydrates, and what types of carbohydrates are in your food.

You should base your meals on the Diabetes New Zealand healthy plate model, shown in the picture on the right. This includes eating starchy carbohydrates. It also means eating protein like lean meat, fish, eggs, legumes (dried beans, split peas and lentils), tofu, tempeh, or Quorn. You should also eat plenty of vegetables, in the right portions. You also need some fruit, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats from foods like fish, nuts, seeds, canola and olive oil, and avocados.

Low carbohydrate diets

A low carbohydrate diet is not recommended if you have type 1 diabetes.

A low carbohydrate diet can work well for some people with type 2 diabetes in the short term. In the long term, this diet is no better for managing diabetes than high carbohydrate or other restrictive diet.

Making sudden changes to what you eat may cause problems, such as hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels), tiredness, and nausea.

If you want to follow a low carbohydrate diet and you are on diabetes medication, talk to your GP and practice nurse first. They can also refer you to a dietitian.

Reading food labels

Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier choices. You can also use this handy shopping guide.

You may want to consult a dietitian to help you develop an eating pattern that suits your lifestyle and manages your diabetes.

Food and activity record

Your doctor, nurse or dietitian may ask you to keep a food and activity record. This will help them to check that your food choices are right for you and your level of activity.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Healthy food and drinks

Healthy recipes

You can find more recipes in the Eat Well Live Well Diabetes NZ recipe book. You can buy the book online or at a bookshop. You may also be able to borrow it from a library.

On the next page: Shopping guide for diabetes or weight control

Written by Christchurch Diabetes Centre dietitians. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed July 2019. Last updated September 2019.


See also:

Finding out if I am a healthy weight

Healthy eating programmes

High cholesterol

Keeping active

Meal planning and healthy recipes

Page reference: 195345

Review key: HIDIA-21832