Updated 06 March 2017

Type 1 diabetes: diet and lifestyle

All type 1 diabetics need to see a dietician so that correct and healthy eating patterns can be implemented.


All type 1 diabetics need to see a dietician so that correct and healthy eating patterns can be implemented. Healthy eating implies a high-fibre, low-saturated-fat diet, which limits high-cholesterol foods and snacks, and which includes lean protein from fish, poultry and legumes.

Apart from providing guidelines on what to eat, a dietician can also help to establish the amount of kilojoules required in the diet, and can help teach the diabetic how to do carbohydrate counting.

As smoking can have a dramatic impact on cardiovascular health, diabetics are strongly urged to stop smoking. Doctors can provide guidance in terms of smoking-cessation aids, such as nicotine replacement therapy (patches, inhalers, gum) and/or prescription medication in the form of Zyban.

Alternatively, the National Council Against Smoking's Quit Line (011 720 3145) can provide assistance.

Reviewed by Dr Suresh Rajpaul (MbChB, FCPsa)
May 2009


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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