Information for the public

Diet and exercise

Diet and exercise


Having a healthy diet is an important part of living with type 1 diabetes. This will help you to manage your diabetes better. You should get information and advice about this from your diabetes care team as soon as you are diagnosed.

Information about checking your carbohydrate intake and matching your insulin to what you eat (sometimes called 'carb counting') should be part of your diabetes education. Advice should also cover how different meals and snacks affect your blood glucose levels, and the best times to inject insulin when eating.

An expert such as a dietitian should give you advice about your diet. This should be designed to suit your lifestyle, any other health problems you have and any cultural preferences. If you are overweight, you will be encouraged to lose weight because this will lower your risk of getting diabetes‑related complications.

You do not need to follow a special diet if you have type 1 diabetes. You can still enjoy some foods containing sugar as long as they form part of a healthy balanced diet and are counted as part of your carbohydrate intake.

You can ask for advice about your diet whenever you want it – for example, about fruit and vegetables, types and amounts of fat, and other types of food and drink such as alcohol, protein, salt, fibre, sweeteners, vitamins and minerals.


Exercising helps you to stay healthy and reduces the risk of problems with your heart and blood vessels. If you plan to take more exercise, your diabetes care team should talk with you about what type and how much is right for you, and how exercise affects your blood glucose levels. They should also tell you how to adjust your insulin and what to eat and drink when you exercise.

Questions to ask about diet and exercise

  • Please explain more about how what I eat and drink affects my diabetes

  • What sorts of foods should I eat?

  • Do I have to avoid sugary foods?

  • How do I adjust my insulin depending on what I eat?

  • What are the effects of alcohol on my diabetes?

  • How will losing weight help?

  • What sorts of exercise are best? Are there any types of exercise I should avoid?

  • How do I adjust my insulin if I exercise?

  • Information Standard