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Transition was positive. They helped me understand my condition.


Type 1 diabetes

There is no special diet for young people with type 1 diabetes. You need the same amount of energy and nutrients to promote growth and development as all other young people. You should try to eat a balanced, healthy diet that you can enjoy with your family and friends. No foods need to be avoided but some foods are better choices than others. You can find out more here

 The Eat Well Plate

The eat well plate shows the different types of foods we need to eat and in what proportions, so we can have a healthy balanced diet.

  • Include one portion of bread, rice, potatoes or pasta or other starchy staple food with every meal. Choose wholegrain varieties if you can
  • Aim for a minimum of five portions a day of vegetables and fruit
  • Aim for three portions of dairy foods every day e.g. cheese, milk, yoghurt and choose lower fat options
  • Have two portions of meat, fish, eggs or beans every day. Try and have fish twice a week, including oily fish
  • Keep foods and drinks that are high in fat and/or sugar to a minimum
  • Sugary foods such as cakes, chocolates and other sweets  should only be eaten  as an occasional treat

Tips for healthy eating:

  • Eat regular meals (and healthy snacks if you wish to snack)
  • Eat a wide variety of foods
  • Cut down on saturated (animal) fat and sugar
  • Eat less salt
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don't skip breakfast

Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Canderel and stevia based sweeteners can be used instead of sugar; they contain less calories and do not affect the blood glucose level. All drinks such as tea, fizzy drinks and squash should be sugar free.

'Diabetic products'

Food manufacturers can no longer use the terms 'suitable for diabetics' and 'diabetic' on food labels. The products were often high in fat and calories, the carbohydrate content was similar or higher than standard products and they were also more expensive.

If you have any questions regarding food labels or suitable foods, please ask your dietitian.

Often young people may be very hungry in the first few weeks after diagnosis. You should expect your appetite to settle back to normal after a few weeks.

Carbohydrate counting

The glucose in the blood comes from carbohydrates absorbed from food (and some from liver stores). If you count the amount of carbohydrate in a meal you can match it with the correct amount of insulin. This is known as carbohydrate counting.  Carbohydrates are found in many foods and provide important nutrients and energy to help you grow and do physical activities. Also your brain needs glucose to function. 

We would strongly recommend that you purchase and use a book called 'Carbs & Cals' by Chris Cheyette and Yello Balolia. This will be very useful once the dietitians have taught you how to do carbohydrate counting.

You will need to purchase a set of digital kitchen scales which are essential in weighing food portions for accurate carbohydrate counting.

Different foods contain different types of carbohydrates

  • Starchy carbohydrates - potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles, cereals, bread, couscous, lentils, beans and products containing flour
  • Fructose - fruit (fresh & dried), fruit juice and honey
  • Lactose - milk, yogurt, ice cream and custard
  • Sucrose (table sugar) - syrup, sweets, sugary drinks and foods containing added sugar such as cakes & biscuits

When looking at food labels, always look at the total amount of carbohydrates.

You will be given information on carbohydrate counting soon after diagnosis.


You do not need to have a mid-morning, mid-afternoon and/or a bedtime snack. If you do want a snack between meals or before bed then you will need to give an extra rapid-acting insulin injection to match the carbohydrate amount in the snack.

It is important that snacks are generally healthier options, ideas are listed below. Please speak to your nurse or dietitian about this:

  • Fruit - fresh, tinned (in natural juice) or dried
  • Vegetables - sticks of carrot, peppers, cucumber, celery, baby sweetcorn, mange tout
  • Crackers, breadsticks with low fat cheeses, hummus, salsa, guacamole, or cold meats
  • Yogurts - low fat fruit varieties or try natural yogurt with added fruit
  • Low fat crisps occasionally e.g. Skips, Quavers, Wotsits or popcorn
  • Sugar free jelly and ice lollies

Diet and Exercise

You may feel that you need more in depth information around diet and exercise. You can read more here, but we always recommend checking any changes you plan to make with your doctor or nurse.