- low total fat (especially saturated fat)
- low sugar
- low sodium
- high fibre
- lower kilojoules (especially when trying to lose weight)
A simple guide to reading food labels with type 2 diabetes
At a glance...
‘Fat-free’ and ‘sugar-free’ DOESN’T mean carb-free
Some diabetic diets are based on balancing blood glucose by limiting carbohydrates. Therefore, it’s important to focus on ‘total carbohydrates’, which includes added sugars and fibre, not just sugar content.
Some foods, such as milk and fruit, are nutritious despite being naturally high in sugar, and can be included as part of a balanced diet.
Look for healthy fats
Not all fats are created equal. Unhealthy fats like saturated and trans fats raise your cholesterol and increase your cardiovascular risk. In contrast, good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help to protect your heart, even if they’re high in calories.
‘Reduced salt’ isn’t the same as low salt
For a food to earn a ‘reduced salt’ label, that means it has 25% less salt than the original version of that product. But that reduced level may still be relatively high. The same logic applies to items boasting ‘reduced fat’.
Be wary of serving sizes
Serving sizes on food labels are notoriously misleading and designed to make sugar, fat, and salt content look lower than it actually is. If you have a meal plan that specifies serving sizes, see how they compare to the servings listed on the food label so you can stay within your daily calorie and carbohydrate goals.
Consult a qualified nutritionist
Of course, a great way to minimise the guesswork in your shopping basket is to have a clear plan of what meals are more effective when managing your diabetes and which ingredients are safe to choose.
A nutritionist with experience in type 2 diabetes can help you co-create a balanced diet and meal plan that also factors in your personal tastes.
You can also check out the Novo Nordisk cookbook, packed with wholesome, delicious, and easy-to-make recipes suitable for people with type 2 diabetes.
Want to learn more about healthy nutrition and reducing your risk of heart disease? Ask your doctor about GLP-1.
- International Food Information Council (IFIC). Food & Health Survey 2021, May 2021. Available from: https://foodinsight.org/2021-food-health-survey/ Accessed on 5 october 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carb Counting [online] August 2021. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/diabetes-and-carbohydrates.html Accessed on 5 October 2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food Labels [online] April 2021. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/food-labels.html Accessed on 5 October 2021.
- Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and healthy eating [online] April 2021. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fat/art-20045550 Accessed on 5 October 2021.
- World Health Organisation. Salt Reduction [online] April 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction Accessed on 5 October 2021.