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HealthInfo Canterbury

Shopping guide for diabetes or weight control

Aratakinga hokohoko mō te mate huka, te whakahaerehanga taumahatanga rānei

A healthy eating plan is high in whole foods. These include vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, wholegrain foods and lean protein. This guide suggests healthy processed food and drink options, but it isn't a complete list of all suitable foods.


Look for products that have less than 10 g of sugar per 100 g, and less than 10 g of fat per 100 g. Check the nutrition information panel of food products.

Breakfast cereal

A bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries and raspberriesHealthy high‑fibre cereals that also include dried fruit have slightly more sugar. Look for cereals with less than 10 g of fat per 100 g, less than 15 g of sugar per 100 g and more than 6 g of fibre per 100 g.

These are good options:


Choose grainy bread, rolls, buns, wraps, roti and chapatti with more than 5 g of dietary fibre per 100 g.

Buy wholemeal flour and add wholegrains and seeds if you make homemade bread.

Canned fruit

Choose unsweetened or in natural fruit juice or light juice. Always drain the juice off the fruit before eating.

Beans and lentils

Choose beans and lentils with less than 5 g of sugar per 100 g. Healthy choices might include baked beans, chilli beans, red kidney beans, salad beans, chickpeas and three-bean mix.

Eat beans and lentils with your meals several times a week.

Rice, pasta and noodles

Better choices include basmati rice, doongara rice, Uncle Ben’s parboiled rice, koshihikari rice, wholemeal pasta, San Remo pulse pasta and Trident wholegrain noodles.

Grainy crackers

Choose crackers with less than 10 g fat per 100 g, preferably less than 600 mg per 100 g sodium and preferably more than 6 g fibre per 100 g.

Better choices include Arnott's Vita-Weat, Ryvita and Huntly and Palmers 8 Grain wholegrain crackers.

Vegetable juices

Green vegetable juice being poured into a glassV8 (vegetable variety only) and some tomato juices (but check for added sugars).


Choose milk with 1.5 g fat or less per 100 ml. This includes yellow, green and light-blue top packaged milk.

For plant-based alternatives, choose rice, nut, oat or unflavoured soy milk. Choose alternatives that are calcium enriched and commercially produced (not homemade).


Choose cheese with less than 20 g fat per 100 g. This may include:

Noble Tasty Mainland Cheese (25.8 g fat per 100 g) and Edam Cheese (26.5 g fat per 100 g) are also okay to eat.


Choose unsweetened or artificially sweetened yoghurt with less than 2 g fat per 100 g and less than 10 g sugar per 100 g. Better choices include natural or Greek style yoghurt.

Dips and toppings

Yoghurt-based dip with cucumber and spicesChoose products with less than 10 g fat per 100 g and less than 5 g saturated fat per 100 g. These may include, tzatziki, tomato salsa, hummus, 98% fat-free sour cream and Tararua lite dips.


Fats and oils

Choose unsaturated fats and oils, such as canola oil, rice bran oil and olive oil. Avoid saturated fats such as butter, palm oil and coconut oil.

Use a cooking spray for pan frying and use baking paper to prevent sticking on pans and dishes.

Treat foods

Eat these foods in moderation:

Sugar substitutes

If you’re pregnant, avoid products with cyclamate (952) and saccharin (954), including Sactab, Sugromax, Sweetabs, Sweetex, Splenda and Sucaryl.

Healthier choices include Equal and stevia (Pure Via, Natural, NatVia, Sweete).

Sugar-free drinks

A glass of soda water filled with iceUse artificially sweetened beverages in moderation. Choose tap water, soda water and low-fat milk to increase your fluid intake.


Liquid concentrate

Soft Drinks

Hot drinks or milk flavourings

Flavoured water or tea

Low sugar drinks

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2022.


Page reference: 609548

Review key: HIDIA-21832