Diabetes can be well managed with a healthy diet, combined with regular physical activity and medication which has been prescribed by a certified health practitioner. A diabetic diet means following a healthy eating plan (which is recommended to everyone by experts) rather than a restrictive diet, regardless of the type of diabetes a person has. This means that a diabetic person should cut out foods which are not so good and eat more foods that are good. It is important to have a good mix of foods which contain a variety of nutrients and cut back on foods that are high in fat and sugar.  It is better to avoid foods such as diabetic chocolate, sweets and jam as they offer no benefits to people with diabetes. They can cause diarrhea if eaten in large quantities because they contain a sweetener called sorbitol, which is not absorbed. They can also be high in fat and expensive.


It is important to consume slow release carbohydrates, also known as low-GI foods (which is broken down slowly and only raises blood glucose levels moderately) compared to quick release carbohydrates, also known as high-GI foods (which raise blood glucose levels dramatically). Foods that have slow release have a small effect on blood glucose whereas foods which have a quick release cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. Slow release carbohydrates include grain bread, bananas, apples and boiled potatoes which quick release carbohydrates include sweets, chocolate, cakes, white bread and biscuits. If you want to eat these foods, replace then with sugar-free or low-sugar alternatives. Low GI foods have also been shown to reduce glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels by 0.5%.


A diet rich in fat can lead to weight gain, raise blood cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. It can also make the body less responsive to insulin. The type of fat you eat is important; foods such as butter, cheese, fats from meat and fried foods are high in saturated (animal) fats and should be avoided. When you do eat fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats should be consumed. These include foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds and oily fish. Oil choices can include olive oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are important as they are low in fat and calories and provide plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre. It is recommended that you aim for five portions spread across the day. This may help to protect against heart disease, some types of cancer and decrease cholesterol levels.


Protein is an important part of a person’s diet as it is required for the repair of tissue and muscle. You only need a relatively small amount and good sources of protein include fish, meat, eggs and dairy produce. Some of these foods can be high in fat, so it is important to eat the low-fat versions when you can.


Too much salt can cause an increase a person’s blood pressure. You should not consume more than six grams of salt (one heaped teaspoon) per day. If you suffer from high blood pressure already, you should not eat more than three grams of salt (half a teaspoon) every day. Try and taste your meals before adding salt as you may not need as much salt as you think you might need.

Sample meal plan for healthy eating

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you should discuss with a dietitian so that an appropriate meal plan can be designed for you. However, to provide you with a headstart, here is a weeks’ worth of healthy meals provided by a certified health professional. This meal plan can also be used by those who are prediabetic.

Click here to download this free meal plan

free meal plan for diabetes

Click here to download this free meal plan


Understanding Diabetes by Professor Rudy Bilous, 2013

Better Health Channel, 2018

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