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First-Time Shopping

By in Nutrition

Your child has just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  The shock has barely worn off before you have to plan meals and make your first trip to the grocery store. One question you may have is, “What should I buy?”

The Sugar-Free Myth

Often, many people think that they now must only buy sugar-free foods or shop in the “diabetes” section of the store.  Not true.  Just because it has the label “sugar-free” doesn’t mean that it has low or zero carbs. Instead, focus on planning healthy meals that are not just for the child with diabetes, but for the whole family.

Eating Healthy

What’s considered healthy?  Focus on buying items from the five food groups:

  • Protein foods – Chicken, fish, eggs, and cheese are zero-carb foods that do not affect blood glucose.
  • Fruits and Vegetables – Concentrate on leafy green vegetables which have zero carbs and zero calories. Remember that fruits and some vegetables, such as corn and peas, have carbs. You will need to cover them with insulin, if eaten.
  • Grains such as oatmeal and bread.
  • Dairy such as milk and yogurt.


Beverages are one place you should consider switching to zero-carbs.  Drinks high in carbohydrates, such as fruit juices or soda, cause blood glucose to rise rapidly.  Switch to beverages that have little or no effect on blood glucose such as water and zero-carb drinks.

Other Tips

An easy way to reduce unnecessary carbohydrates it to try brands that have lower carbs.  For example, you may have two brands of bread: one that has 12 carbs per slice and one that has 18 carbs per slice.  It might be worth trying the low carb brand to see if your family likes it.  Also, make sure you have measuring cups and a food scale to measure food for correct carbohydrate counts.


Updated 2/17/19

This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.