Tāu ake whakaora i te mate huka Living well with diabetes

Managing your diabetes can help with your daily activities. You might need to make some lifestyle changes depending on your situation.

Eating well with diabetes

Eating well is an important part of managing your diabetes. You do not need to buy special food or cook different food from your whānau.

You can manage this by:

  • drinking plenty of water and avoiding fruit juice and other sweetened drinks
  • eating breakfast, lunch and dinner every day
  • basing your meals around the Diabetes New Zealand Healthy Plate model
  • keeping an eye on your carbohydrates at each meal
  • choose low sugar, low saturated fat, low salt, and high fibre food.

Diabetes NZ Healthy Plate — Diabetes New Zealand (external link)

Alcohol and diabetes

If you are on insulin or some diabetes mediations, drinking alcohol can cause low blood glucose. This can happen for up to 10 hours after you stop drinking.

Also you might not be as aware of the low blood sugar when you are drinking alcohol.

If you choose to drink alcohol:

  • have someone with you who knows you have diabetes
  • wear your medical alert or something similar so others can know you have diabetes in an emergency
  • monitor your blood sugars before, during and after drinking
  • have food with alcohol and never drink on an empty stomach.

Driving with diabetes

If you have diabetes, you will need to take extra precautions to make sure you are safe on the road.

The main concern is drivers with low blood glucose levels (hypoglycaemia or a 'hypo'). If you are taking insulin or some medicines for diabetes (not metformin), it is important to avoid low blood glucose levels as this can impair your driving and cause you to pass out.

Having high blood glucose levels (hyperglycaemia) can also make you feel unwell or tired and may affect your ability to drive safely. You should not drive if you are severely hyperglycaemic.

Diabetes and driving — Diabetes New Zealand (external link)

Sick days with diabetes

If you are sick, you may need to change your normal diabetes routine.

If you use insulin, you will need to check your blood sugar more often and adjust your dose as needed.

Some diabetes tablets need to be stopped if you are sick.

See your healthcare provider immediately if:

  • you are vomiting a lot or continuously
  • you cannot keep your blood glucose levels above 4 mmol/l
  • your blood glucose levels remain high
  • you have type 1 diabetes and your blood glucose levels remain above 15 mmol/l after 2 extra doses of rapid-acting insulin (if you have been prescribed it) or if ketones (the chemical your liver produces when it breaks down fats) are increasing or stay high
  • you get worse or develop new symptoms.

If you are unwell, try:

  • drinking plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated
  • eating well
  • liquid food to provide your body with glucose
  • check your blood glucose levels regularly (every 2 hours if you are taking insulin).