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Living with Diabetes

Diagnostics Guideline for those with Diabetes 

(Updated 2013 CDA Guideline)

  • Fasting (no caloric intake for at least 8 hours) plasma glucose level ≧ 7 mmol/L or
  • Plasma glucose level 2 hours after a meal ≧ 11.1 mmol/L or
  • Glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1C: the average blood sugar level over the past 3 months ≧ 6.5% (in adults) or
  • Random (any time of the day) plasma glucose level should be ≧ 11.1 mmol/L

Medications for Diabetes

Video Pharmaceutical Treatment Options for Diabetes (19:04 min)
Currently, there is no complete cure for diabetes, but medication can help control the symptoms. Norman Leung, a pharmacist, explains a few pharmaceutical treatment options for diabetes. This presentation is part of the intercultural Online Health Network (iCON) forum on December 4, 2010 in Vancouver, BC. Delivered in Cantonese with Mandarin interpretation.

Managing the emotional toll of diabetes

Chinese Diabetes Forum 2013: Did you know 41% of Diabetes patients are also affected by a mental illness? Registered Psychologist Dr. Tigerson Young discusses the effects of Diabetes on mental wellness. Part of the “Prevention and Management of Diabetes: From Lifestyle to Technology Enable Strategies” Chinese forum (Cantonese and Mandarin)

Managing Diabetes with Diet

Dietary changes are very important for managing diabetes, as diet can help to stabilize blood sugar levels.

VideoManaging Diabetes Through Your Diet (30:05 min)
Registered Dietician Jo Jo Wang discusses some important points to note for a diabetic diet, and teaches you how to read nutrition labels. Part of the “Prevention and Management of Diabetes: From Lifestyle to Technology Enable Strategies” Chinese forum (Sunday, September 15, 2013). Delivered in Cantonese with Mandarin interpretation

VideoNutritional Approaches to Managing Diabetes (22:18 min)
Dietician Kitty Yung analyses some diet-related rumours about diabetes, for example: will eating foods high in sugar cause diabetes? Is it better to eat smaller meals multiple times a day? Can a diabetic individual eat rice? Or can they eat sweet fruits? This presentation is part of the intercultural Online Health Network (iCON) forum on December 4, 2010 in Vancouver, BC. Delivered in Cantonese with Mandarin interpretation

You can view some sample menus created for people with Diabetes.

The rest of this section will provide a food and nutrient conversion table and links to recipes to help patients better understand what healthy food choices are good for living with diabetes. Each recipe will describe the food group and correct portion to help you better improve your diet and reduce the risk of complications.

It is important to note that there are different dietary needs for each type of diabetes and treatment plans. Always consult your physician before adjusting your diet.

Food Nutrition conversion tables:

The table unit conversion:
1 Cup = 8 ounces = 227 grams
A tablespoon = 15 ml
A teaspoon = 5 ml

A food nutrition conversion table counts the number of nutrients found in each food item, including carbohydrate, protein, and fat content. There are 6 tables below. Each table consists of different food types. Within each table, all the foods listed will have the same amount of starch, protein, fat, and calories. The 6 types are:

  1. Bread/ grains
  2. Fruits
  3. Meat/ fish or other substitutes 
  4. Milk or other substitutes
  5. Vegetables
  6. Fat/Oil 

In addition to the above six types of food, there is a table for desserts and sugary foods as a secondary alternative. The amount of sugar in each category is very important as it can help stabilize your blood sugar level and reduce the chance of a sudden rise or fall. However, when you are calculating the sugar content of each food special attention should be given to account for age, gender, weight, physical activity level, and drug treatment method.

The amount of protein and fat intake are also very important, although they do not contain a large amount of sugar content, they should not be used as a substitute for sugar intake because this could cause a sugar imbalance. Additionally, a diet consisting of excessive amount of calories and fat may lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, arteriosclerosis, obesity and other diseases.

Remember: The rule of thumb is to choose fresh fruits and vegetables and try to stick to regular meal times every day. If you also control your calorie intake, you will benefit from the advantages of diet therapy to manage the symptoms of diabetes and minimize complications.   

1. Bread/Grains conversion table:
Each portion of grain below contains approximately: 15g sugar, 2g protein, and 80 calories

Bread/Grain 1 Portion
Oatmeal ½ cup
Congee ½ cup
Rice (米飯) 1/3 cup or 60g
Rice Noodle (河粉) ¼ Cup
Vermicelli noodle(米粉) 1/3 Cup
Macaroni noodle ½ Cup
Spaghetti noodles ½ cup
Rice Roll 45g or 1 small piece
Oil noodle (油麵) 1/3 cup or 80g
Dry noodle, instant noodle (乾麵餅 (熱)﹐ 即食麵﹐ 伊麵) ¼ Cup
Udon 1/3 Cup or 80 g
ShangHai Noodles ½ cup
Sticky rice 1.5 tablespoon
Steamed bun (淡饅頭) Half a bun
Bread (方麵包-白﹐ 麥﹐小麥) 1 piece
Hamburger bun Half a bun (small)
Soda Cracker 3 pieces (5cm square)
Tea cracker(茶餅) 2 pieces
Digestive cracker 1 piece (5cm circle)
Potato flour (豆粉﹐ 麵粉) 1⅓ tablespoon
Potato 60g
Taro 50g
Chinese donut (23cm) ⅓ of a piece
Wonton Skin 5 pieces
Dumpling skin 4 pieces
Spring roll skin 1 piece


2. Fruit conversion table:
Each portion of fruit below contains approximately: 20g sugar and 70 calories

Fruit 1 Portion
juice - Orange , peach, grapefruit, guava ½ cup
Juice - Apple, pineapple ⅓ cup
Juice - Sugar cane, grape ¼ cup
Juice - Tomato 1 cup
Orange, pear, guava, peace, mandarin orange 1(medium)
Dates, figs, prunes 2 pieces
Pomelo 3 slices
Pineapple 2 slices
Banana (18cm) Half
Durian 30g or one big piece
Watermelon 240g
Honeydew, cantaloupe/muskmelon (13 cm long) ⅓ of a melon or 2.5cm x 13cm piece or 150g
Papaya 150 g with skin or 120 without skin
Grapefruit, persimmon, asian pear ½ a fruit
Mango ½ a fruit (medium) or 85g
Lychee 5 pieces
Longan 12 pieces (medium)
Grape, cherry 10 pieces(medium)
Strawberry 12 pieces (medium)
Apricot 2 pieces (medium)
Dried Apricot 4 slices


3. Meat, Fish, and other proteins conversion table:
Each portion of meat and/or fish contains approximately: 7g of protein

Meat/Fish/Protein Substitute 1 Portion
Beef, pork, chicken, fish (half lean, half fat) 40g(raw), 30g(cooked)
Tuna or salmon (canned) 60g or ¼ cup
Chicken wing, chicken leg 1 piece
Chicken thigh (雞上腿) ½ piece
Shrimp (蝦仁) 5 pieces
Oyster, dried oyster (蠔或蠔豉) 3 pieces
Abalone, crab, lobster, cuttlefish, squid (鮑魚﹐ 蟹肉﹐ 龍蝦肉﹐ 墨魚﹐魷魚) 60g(cooked)
Egg, century egg, duck egg (no more than 3 eggs per week) 1
Egg white 2
Cheese/yoghurt 30g
South/soft/silken tofu (南/嫩豆腐) ¾ block or 140g
North/firm tofu (北/老豆腐) ½ block or 100g
Tofu pudding/douhua with no sugar ¾ cup or 170g
Pressed tofu (豆腐干) 1.5 block or 45g
Doupao/fried tofu bubble/beancurd puff (豆泡) 6 pieces or 50 g
Soy milk skin (鮮腐皮) (50cm) ⅓ sheet or 15g
Tofu bamboo (腐竹) (38cmx18cm) ½ sheet or 15g
Tofu skin/ bean curd skin (枝竹)(56cm) ½ piece or 15g
Soy bean, black bean (黃豆﹐黑豆) 3 tablespoon or 30g
Wheat gluten/ seitan (麵筋) 40g
Peanut butter 2 tablespoons


Leanness of Meat Fat (g) Calories (cal)
Extra lean 0-1 35
Lean 3 55
Half lean, half fat 5 75
Fully fat 8 100


4. Milk products conversion table:
Each portion of milk contains approximately: 6g sugar, 4g protein and trace amounts of fat

Milk product Calories (Cal) 1 Portion
Low fat skim milk (微脂或去脂奶) 45 ½ cup
Nonfat evaporated milk (去脂淡奶) 45 ¼ cup
Nonfat plain yoghurt (純味去脂酸乳酪) 45 ½ cup
2% milk (2%低脂奶) 60 ½ cup
Low fat plain yoghurt (純味低脂酸乳酪) 60 ½ cup
Homo-milk (全脂奶) 75 ½ cup
Evaporated milk (全脂淡奶) 75 ¼ cup
Plain yoghurt (純味全脂酸乳酪) 75 ½ cup
Soy milk (豆漿) 105 ½ cup (3g sugar)


5. Vegetable products conversion table:
Each portion of vegetable contains approximately:
Group A: 5g sugar, 2g protein, 25-28 calories
Group B: 15g sugar, 4g protein, 50-70 calories

Vegetables - Group A 1 Portion
Majority of vegetables and leafy vegetable 1cup (raw) or 1/2cup (cooked)
Tomato or vegetable juice ½ cup
Vegetables - Group B (Vegetables with natural sugar) 1 Portion
Corn ½ cob
Corn Kernels ½ cup
Sweet cream corn (no added sugar) ½ cup
Chestnut (粟子) 4 pieces
Cooked lotus seed (蓮子-熟) 2 tablespoons
Cooked pea, soy or black bean (豌豆,黃/黑豆-熟) 4 tablespoons (¼ cup)
Cooked red/green bean (紅/綠豆-熟) 2⅓ Tablespoons
Snowpea, green bean (雪豆, 青豆角) ½ cup
Lotus (蓮藕) 85g
Kudzu (粉葛) 30g
Water chestnut (馬蹄/荸荠) 9 pieces (medium) or 50g
Cooked green pea (青豆仁-熟) ½ cup
Potato (baked, steam) 1 small piece or 85g
Mashed Potato ½ cup
Sweet Potato/Yam 1 small piece or 85g


6. Fat conversion table:
Fats can be divided into two major groups:

  1. Soybean oils and sesame oils
  2. Plant oils and animal oils

Between the two groups, soybean oils (e.g. Canola oil and olive oil) are a better option for cooking as they are non-saturated which can prevent atherosclerosis. Avoid using any oil that has been repeatedly heated to high temperatures.

Each portion of fat contains approximately:  5g of fat and 45kcal.
Although one portion of fat contains little fat content, it contains a high level of calories, so it is important to choose carefully.

Non-saturated fat 1 Portion
Corn oil, canola oil, safflower seed oil 1 teaspoon
Sesame oil, soybean oil, peanut oil 5g
Avocado oil 1/8 of a fruit or 2 tablespoon
Saturated fat 1 Portion
Butter, Margarine 1 teaspoon
Salad dressing 1 teaspoon
Lard, synthetic oil 1 teaspoon
Coconut oil, Palm oil 1 teaspoon
Sausage ½ of piece
Chinese sausage ⅓ piece


Dessert conversion table:
This dessert conversion table should only be used occasionally because substituting for 1 or 2 food groups will result in too much sugar, which will cause your blood sugar level to rise. You should pay extra attention to the portion intake. 

Dessert Type Portion Sugar(g)
Cocktail bun (雞尾包) 1 whole, 75g 40
Sweet bun (甜餐包) 1 whole, 70g 35
Raisin bun (提子/ 葡萄包) 1 whole, 70g 35
BBQ pork bun (叉燒包) 1 whole, 50g 30
Pineapple bun (菠蘿/ 鳳梨包) 1 whole, 80g 40
Lotus paste bun (蓮蓉包) 1 whole, 50g 45
Water chestnut cake (馬碲糕) 1 whole, 55g 15
Radish Cake (蘿蔔糕) 1 whole, 50g 20
Egg tart, Portuguese tart (蛋塔﹐ 葡塔) 1 whole, 60g 30
Ovaltine (阿華田) 4 teaspoons 10
Vitasoy (維他奶) 1 juice box (250ml) 15