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Advice for Type 1 diabetes from a dietician


Eating with Type 1 diabetes can feel tricky. While there’s no such thing as a ‘diabetes diet’, registered dietician Ajita Ratanjee has a few tips that she always shares with her clients living with Type 1 diabetes. Here they are.

The plan is easy to follow, it cuts out all the refined carbohydrates which are not recommended for anyone and it promotes timely and regular eating patterns. These are key and essential elements to adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


I strongly feel that the diabetic way of eating is beneficial to most people trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Ajita Ratanjee

9 key focus points for eating with Type 1 diabetes:

Here are my most important points that Type 1s need to be aware of to manage blood glucose levels.

1. Understand your condition

This is essential for you to understand what is going on in your body and it makes adapting to change easier as you understand ‘why’ you need to make the changes. Use the Search bar on the top of our homepage to ask any question you have about your diabetes – we probably have an answer! And if we don’t, please ask us.

2. Know how to use your insulin

It is essential to managing glucose levels. Find out more about insulin here…


3. Avoid refined carbohydrates

This is the well known ‘avoid food’ list for people living with diabetes. Here’s a list of all the carbs you need to understand.


4. Consult a dietitian to calculate and prescribe an eating plan for you

The plan will align with your lifestyle and as far as possible include foods you enjoy. It is also a great opportunity to be introduced to new food choices and meals from your dietitian.

5. Be open to try new recipes and food options.

You may be pleasantly surprised with some new favourites you add to your menu.

6. Understand the carbohydrate distribution in your plan based on the insulin you use.

Counting carbs is an essential tool for people with diabetes to be able to use and understand. An easy example to illustrate this is – a slice of bread is on average 15g carbs and so is 4 Provita biscuits; you therefore have the options to swap out a slice of bread for 4 Provita biscuits and still keep your carbohydrate distribution. This gives clients flexibility in food choices and makes long-term compliance to diet so much easier.

7. Stick to portions calculated for you:

The carbohydrate and protein combination will keep your glucose stable and avoid hunger and cravings. There is a wonderful variety of tasty foods that are on a healthy meal plan.

A little effort in understanding food and the role the various food groups play in managing diabetes will open a whole new world of food choices for you.

Remember: Life is always sweeter when we enjoy and look forward to the healthy lifestyle we choose to adopt for longevity and living with vitality.

Do you have any questions about diabetes and diet?

What to read next?

The diabetes diet – all you need to know: What does a healthy diabetes diet look like? We’ve all been there! While we have plenty of recipes to offer, and a balanced meal plan, it’s also helpful to understand carb counting, which foods to eat often, and portion control.

10 FAQ about the diabetic diet- what to eat with diabetes: We asked dietician Cheryl Mayer to answer this diabetes diet FAQ and explain to people with diabetes what we should be eating.

Easy tips for healthier eating: We’ve asked Leanne Kiezer, the dietician at Pick n Pay, for some helpful tips for healthier eating during the holidays. Here are a few helpful suggestions for eating healthy without feeling like you’re missing out on all the treats!

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

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  1. […] Advice for Type 1 diabetes from a dietician: Eating with Type 1 diabetes can feel tricky. While there’s no such thing as a ‘diabetes diet’, registered dietician Ajita Ratanjee has a few tips that she always shares with her clients living with Type 1 diabetes. […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.