Diabetes and Food

Nutrition plays an important role in the treatment of diabetes. Our body cells need energy. This energy comes from our food and our body uses it in the form of glucose. No special diet is needed in type 1 diabetes, but what is needed is healthy food and a good distribution over the day.

Carbo-hydrates are very important in this respect, because they provide energy to the body. But insulin remains indispensable. Carbo-hydrates do raise the glucose levels in your blood, but in order to transfer this glucose into energy for te body insulin is needed. To make a good estimate of how much insulin is needed, you have to know (count!) how many carbo-hydrates your food and drinks contain. In young children the parents do this. As you get older, you learn how to do so yourself.

Tanje Lappenschaar, one of our dieticians, offers good advice to parents with children who have type I diabetes op de website van het Diabetesfonds.


Eating regularly is important to maintain a normal blood sugar level. Good snacks are:

  • Fruit (all sorts)
  • Evergreen/Sultana or store brand. Most of these come in two’s, but not every child needs two of them
  • Gingerbread cake (but mind the amount of sugar in some brands)

Distribute the food over the day, in three meals and three snacks. For a lot of people this was already a habit when they didn’t have diabetes yet, but now it is important all days of the week. In most cases, you can keep on eating the same amount of food and snacks you ate before. Sugar is not forbidden, there are no forbidden nutrients at all. Nutrition with diabetes is normal healthy food.

Common lemonade and soft drinks however lead to sudden peaks in glucose levels. You are better off taking a soft drink light or well diluted lemonade syrup. It is also smart to drink tap water a little more often and tea without sugar. Eating plain fruit is better than drinking fruit juice. The package may say ‘pure and nu sugar added’, but they always contain fruit-sugar. Later on, you will learn how to fit in juices and smoothies.

Nutrition after the diagnose

Just before you were diagnosed with diabetes you may have lost some weight. At the start of the treatment with insulin, you will notice that you become hungry. This is normal, your body has to recover from a hard period. Therefore, the treatment in the first phase is aimed at recovery of the body and at important nutrients. It isn’t until after this ‘survival’ phase that you come into the phase where we set to work to make your diabetes regulation better. Until then it’s recovering and learning. Our dieticians help you with this. They teach you very quickly how you can eat with diabetes without having to use a nasty diet.