Street drugs

August 2010


Dietary management in diabetes

Volume 39, No.8, August 2010 Pages 579-583

Alan Barclay

Heather Gilbertson

Kate Marsh

Carmel Smart


Type 1 diabetes is primarily an autoimmune disease and type 2 diabetes is primarily a metabolic condition. However, medical nutrition therapy is an integral part of management for both types of diabetes to improve glycaemic control and reduce the risk of complications.


To outline the principles of dietary management in type 1 and type 2 diabetes and provide strategies to assist in overcoming common difficulties related to diet.


All people with diabetes should be provided with quality professional education on medical nutrition therapy upon diagnosis, and at regular intervals thereafter. For children and adolescent patients with type 1 diabetes, the challenge is to maintain good glycaemic control while providing adequate energy for growth and development. Modification in dietary advice is required, depending on developmental stage. In type 2 diabetes, the initial challenge is to achieve weight loss of 5–10% body weight, normalise blood glucose and reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Specific strategies include a kilojoule controlled diet with reduced saturated fat, trans fat and sodium; moderate protein; and high in dietary fibre and low glycaemic index carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be spread evenly throughout the day and matched to medication.

There are approximately 1 million people in Australia with diabetes, approximately 13% of these have type 1 diabetes.1,2

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