Managing diabetes


What should I eat? 

Food is important in keeping your body healthy, whether you have diabetes or not.

diet planning

However, most people don’t pay much attention to their basic nutritional needs. Diabetes highlights the importance of a well-balanced eating pattern.

If you have diabetes, there are three important benefits from a nutritionally sound diet –

  • Helps you achieve and maintain good control of your blood glucose levels.

  • Helps regulate body weight.

  • Prevents or delays onset of long term complications of diabetes.

Diet Planning

Eat plenty of breads and cereals (preferably wholegrain), pulses, vegetables and fruit. These foods offer a number of benefits and should make up the bulk of your diet.

They contain plenty of carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals and, if you eat them regularly, will help control your diabetes.

Bread and cereal – Include heavy seed-bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals, rice, wheat, barley, oats, maize, rye, and pasta.

Pulses (legumes) – Include dried beans, peas and lentils.


Vegetables – Include plenty of non-starchy vegetables in your daily diet together with starchy ones. Vegetables, other than starchy ones, are low in carbohydrate, but high in fibre and are a particularly rich source of minerals and vitamins. Starchy vegetables include potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn and parsnips.

Fruit – Include all varieties. Some fruits are lower in carbohydrate than others.

Limit your sugar intake

Sugar (cane sugar) has a medium GI rating and so having diabetes does not mean a total ban on sugars. It means you can eat small amounts without making your blood glucose levels rise excessively. However, eating too much sugar is not a good idea as it adds to your total carbohydrate and kilojoule intake and will replace the nutritionally better and more filling carbohydrate foods.


General guidelines for choosing food

  • Limit your fat intake.
  • Include a food from each of the food groups at each meal.
  • If you are overweight, eat smaller portions and reduce your intake of fat. · Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Control your weight.
  • Choose a nutritious diet from a variety of foods.
  • Cut back on salt.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Visit a dietician to work out a diet plan suitable to your own particular lifestyle.

The Glycaemic Index (GI)

The glycaemic Index is a rating of foods according to their actual effect on blood-glucose levels.

GI Foundation website
Nutrition Experts website

Timing your meals

To help you control your blood glucose levels, you should eat regular meals at regular intervals. The ideal is three meals and a bedtime snack each day.

Some people with diabetes will need to include a mid-morning as well as a mid-afternoon snack.