The Best Diet For Type 1 Diabetes

When the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes is established, we often imagine having to adopt a drastic diet. If this can be beneficial at the beginning, to learn how to adjust your doses and calculate your intake, it is by no means inevitable. Apart from a few adjustments, the diet of a person with type 1 diabetes is the usual balanced, varied and diverse diet. Small pleasures are not to be sacrificed! Let us not forget that there are as many diabetics as there are individuals, and that it is therefore important, to properly manage your blood sugar and your insulin needs, to seek the advice of a diabetologist. Here are some additional recommendations.

Meals at fixed times … with some exceptions

As much as possible (even if we sleep in ), we keep three main meals a day spaced 4 to 6 hours apart. Snacks such as afternoon tea are obviously possible, preferably 2-3 hours after the meal to limit the risk of overdose if you inject insulin (the bolus of the last meal being active until 4 hours later depending on the individual sensitivity to insulin).

Raw vegetables or oilseeds, unless medical advice to the contrary, can be consumed at any time of the day. The refined sugars contained in cakes, jams, candies or even sweet cereals should be limited as much as possible. These tips are also valid for the diet of everyone, with or without diabetes!

Calculate carbohydrate intake

The recommended daily carbohydrate amount¹  depends on various factors such as age, gender, height, weight, and level of physical or emotional activity. The carbohydrate portions therefore adapt to each individual.

Today, the “low carb” diet – a low carbohydrate diet – is popular among all people with diabetes, not just athletes! Some also give pride of place to foods with a low glycemic index . These allow a priori better control of blood sugar peaks at mealtimes.

For all the “carbohydrates”, try to favor complex carbohydrates (whole starches and high in fiber: whole flour breads, legumes such as lentils or chickpeas, whole basmati rice). Compared to simple carbohydrates (white sugar, very cooked rice and pasta, white bread, pastries, honey, fruits, etc.), complex carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly by the body, increase the level of sugar gradually in the blood and provide a lasting feeling of satiety.

If there are fast sugars, save them for the end of the meal to avoid the famous spike in blood sugar.

No special diet, just the right amounts

Living with T1D doesn’t mean eating less. The body needs a certain amount of proper food for everyone to live properly. The functional insulin therapy allows learning to dose insulin depending on dietary intake and not the reverse. Therapeutic education sessions are regularly offered in hospitals, do not hesitate to inquire.

Without a scale, here are some tips for evaluating the quantities:

– The tip of the thumb is equivalent to a teaspoon, or one portion of oil

– The whole inch represents 15ml, or a tablespoon.

– The palm of the hand is equivalent to 90g of protein or one serving

– A handful is equivalent to 250 ml, or two servings of starch, fruit or vegetables.

Be careful, not all fruits contain the same amount of carbohydrates.

Do you have any doubts about the composition of a food? Check online using the Ciqual tool or the Open Food Facts application .

Good food is what makes you happy

It is also important to monitor fat intake, which should generally not exceed one third of our daily energy intake. We will therefore avoid having a heavy hand with the vinaigrette in the salad. Reducing your consumption of animal fats (red meat, cold cuts, cheese, cream) is also a good idea.

However, gluttony is allowed! We will simply favor light cooking, playing on the carbohydrate equivalents to vary the tastes. Do you like to cook? So much the better, you will have control over the quantities!

And then, if you finally want to eat in your favorite fast-food restaurant , we won’t throw stones at you: it’s allowed too.


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