The NDSS is administered by Diabetes Australia

Living independently

Becoming more independent and getting your own place is a real milestone in life. When you live with type 1 diabetes, moving out of home is another big step to becoming fully responsible for your own health and diabetes management. But you won’t be alone.

Your diabetes health professionals will still be your best information source. And we’ve got you covered with tips to help you as you take charge of living your best life with diabetes.

There’ll be more to organise and plan for, like doing your own shopping and cooking, booking your medical appointments and ordering diabetes supplies.

But good routines can help cut down the number of decisions you’ll need to make each day and keep you on a healthy and happy pathway.

Moving out

It’s normal to feel excited, but also a bit anxious about moving into your own place.

When you step into your new independent life, your parents, guardians, and other loved ones won’t be around to nudge you about managing your diabetes. And this can feel a little overwhelming.

You might be juggling a new job or studying, meeting new flatmates, or figuring out grocery shopping and meal prep. It can get a bit hectic and intense, so having a support system is key.

Check out these steps for building your safety net

Teach your friends and flatmates how to handle a low blood glucose level (hypoglycaemia or a hypo for short), where to find your hypo kit and glucagon, and who to call in an emergency.
Look out for a local doctor or after-hours clinic and save their number on your phone.
Make sure you have plenty of insulin and any other medications on hand and have prescriptions ready in case there’s any delay in seeing your new GP.

Find a late-night hours NDSS Access Point (usually a community pharmacy). Go to healthdirect to find a community pharmacy near you.

mobile phone icon
Use your phone or an app to remind you about appointments, blood glucose monitoring schedule, reordering diabetes supplies such as continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) or flash glucose monitoring (Flash GM) devices, line changes for insulin pumps, and more.
Don’t be shy—ask for help when you need it.
Have a sick day action plan in place to manage blood glucose levels and ketones if you’re unwell.
Make sure your sick day action plan is up to date and reviewed at least once a year. Reach out to your doctor or diabetes educator for guidance.

When you’re not sure what to do, or you can’t get your diabetes on track, call your diabetes health professionals.

You can also call the NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700 and ask to speak to a diabetes health professional. They’re there to help you.

Moving out and checking in

As you become more independent it’s a good time to check in with you diabetes health professionals about what these changes will mean for managing your diabetes.

It’s also a good time to refresh your diabetes management, so that you can make the best decisions for yourself based on the best information.

Make sure you understand and feel confident with the following:

How to count carbohydrates (carbs)

What to do to keep yourself safe when drinking
Exercising safely
Traveling essentials

Driving essentials

How to prepare for and manage a hypo
An up to date sick day action plan
How stress, anxiety and burnout can affect your diabetes management
When to have your diabetes health checks

Who’s in your diabetes health professional team and when to check in with them

Remember, telling people about diabetes doesn't define you. It just keeps you safer and lets you enjoy life to the fullest.

If you plan to study, go to university or live on campus

If you plan to study, go to university or live on campus, let them know you live with type 1 diabetes. You can ask for help with special arrangements during exams, and even to connect you with a diabetes support group or a campus society.

Managing your diabetes supplies

Whether you’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for most of your life or just for a short time, you will already know a lot about it.

Becoming more independent is a step up in responsibility, including managing the diabetes supplies you need.

It may take some time to adjust and plan ahead now that you don’t have a parent to remind you.

Here are some things that can be helpful to think about when managing the diabetes supplies you need:

Check your funds so supplies can continue without disruption.
Make sure your insulin pump is within its warranty period.
Insure your insulin pump against theft, loss or damage.
Work out how and where you will get diabetes supplies like syringes, needles, and insulin pump consumables.

Stock up on necessary diabetes supplies like syringes, needles, batteries, spare insulin pens, blood glucose monitoring strips and glucose sensors if you are using CGM or Flash GM, and have a blood ketone meter and strips in your sick day action kit.

Keep a record of your basal insulin rate, insulin-to-carb ratio, and insulin sensitivities if you’re using an insulin pump.

Consider doing a fasting glucose to check your basal insulin rate if you haven’t done one recently.

Know how and where to dispose of used sharps such as pen needles.

For troubleshooting:

  • Make sure you always have your NDSS Card on hand. Create a MyNDSS account and download a NDSS Card to your phone.
  • In case of technical issues, reach out to your insulin pump manufacturer for assistance. Most companies offer a 24-hour Helpline for support.

“When I was younger, I was told to manage my diabetes or these bad things would happen. Whereas no-one was really saying that if I managed my diabetes well enough, I could play in the AFL, or things like that. I’m always going to have diabetes, but that’s not all I’m going to be. It’s just one part of all the amazing things I plan to do with the rest of my life.”

Will, 21 years

My health checks

It’s important to keep track of your diabetes management as you become more independent. Remember to schedule regular follow-up appointments for reviews with your diabetes health professionals.

Things to rememeber

  • Ask you diabetes health professionals about your HbA1c target.
  • Discuss you annual cycle of care needs with your GP.

HbA1c health check

As a young person with type 1 diabetes, it’s really important to know if your blood glucose levels are within your target range. This helps both you and your diabetes health professionals to make sure your diabetes management is on track.

The HbA1c shows your average blood glucose levels over the past 10-12 weeks.

For most people with type 1 diabetes, the recommended HbA1c target is less than 7% (53 mmol/mol). But everyone is different, so your personal target might be different too. If you’re not sure about your HbA1c level or target, chat with your diabetes health professional about it.

If your last HbA1c showed a higher level than your target, it might be time to tweak your diabetes management. You might need to adjust your insulin doses or make some lifestyle changes. Remember, your diabetes health professional is your go-to person for ongoing support, personalised advice, and to explore the best options to help you manage your diabetes.

Are there other health checks?

To stay on top of your health, other checks are needed through the year. This is usually done via an annual review with your GP, known as an annual cycle of care. The annual cycle of care is important as it helps pick up any issues early and helps keep your diabetes management on track.

Some of the checks done include blood pressure, glycated haenoglobin (or HbA1c), kidney function, eye health and feet check. Your GP will coordinate any referrals for review appointments with the relevant diabetes health professionals.

If you’re not sure what to do, or you can’t get your diabetes on track, call your diabetes health professional. You can also call the NDSS Helpline 1800 637 700 and ask to speak to a diabetes health professional. They’re there to help you.

“Now that I’m older, I realise that I’m not there for the doctors to tell me what to do, the doctors are there to help me – and this changed how I feel about going to the clinic”

Ky, 21 years

Eating well with diabetes

Eating well with diabetes doesn’t have to become a daunting task when you move out of home. In fact, nutrition recommendations for people living with diabetes is no different from what’s recommended for everyone else.

Eating nutritious foods and being active will be your best friends when it comes to managing your blood glucose levels and boosting your energy levels. By choosing nutritious options, you can still enjoy delicious meals and snacks while taking care of your body.

Needing some meal preparation and inspiration?

Meals don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to be balanced. On the following pages, you will find plenty of breakfast, lunch and dinner meal ideas for inspiration. Feel free to pick, choose and swap to suit your taste and dietary requirements. Remember your portion size and amount of carbs may need to be adjusted to suit your individual needs. Speak to a dietitian for more information.

Balancing your meals can help look after your diabetes.



Avocado toast

  • 2 slices multigrain sourdough
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/2 cup reducted-fat ricotta cheese
  • chilli flakes
  • 15 gram (g) pepita seeds
  • grilled tomato.


Tuna pasta salad

  • 100 g tinned tuna
  • 1 cup cooked penne or spiral pasta
  • cherry tomatoes
  • red onion
  • baby spinach
  • diced capsicum
  • olive oil vinaigrette.


Chicken nourish bowl

  • 60 g chicken breast or 170 g tofu
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup kale or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • zucchini
  • quinoa
  • herbs and spices.

Eat delicious and nutritious meals and snacks

There are many types of eating plans that may be suitable for people with diabetes.

How you eat is up to you. When it comes to type 1 diabetes and eating well, some nutrition tips and recipe inspiration may help you work out what to eat each day, depending on your needs and food preferences.

Top tips for eating and drinking with diabetes

Try to eat regular meals in the right amounts for you.
Choose high-fibre, lower glycemic index (GI) carb foods.
Limit foods that are high in saturated fat and choose healthier fats.
Include lean protein foods with your meals.
Choose foods low in added salt (sodium) and limit adding salt to your food.

Choose to drink water first. Limit sugary drinks such as soft drinks, cordials, energy drinks and flavoured milks.

Savvy shopping tips

Tips to eating well on a budget

Healthy food aisle

Healthy food aisle

  • Buy supermarket own-brand items as the quality is often the same.
  • Buy vegetables and fruit that are on special and base your meals around them.
  • Get to know the prices of items you buy frequently and shop around for the best deal.
  • Have a few meat free meals each week.
  • Use legumes and vegetables to bulk out meals.
  • Cook meals from scratch rather than choosing convenience options.

Vegetable Tips

Vegetables are a low-cost way of adding nutrients to your meal.

In the shop, pre-packaged vegetables are sometimes more expensive than bagging them yourself. Compare the unit price to see how much you are paying for plastic wrap.

Frozen vegetables can be as good as fresh vegetables. Buying frozen vegetables is also convenient and helps reduce food waste as they will not go off.

Protein Tips

You can cut your shopping bill down by swapping animal protein (such as mince or steak) for plant-based protein (such as legumes) in your meals.

Did you know 65 grams (g) of animal protein is equal to 125 g of protein from legumes.

Legumes also provide an added benefit of giving your meals more fibre.

Snacking wisely

If you include snacks as part of your eating plan, try to have snacks from the five food groups.

If you prefer to purchase pre-made snacks from the supermarket, the FoodSwitch app can be a good tool to have on your phone. It’s an easy way to make sure you’re buying the best version of that snack.

Snacking wisely

It works by following these steps:

1. Download

Download the FoodSwitch app from the App store.

2. Scan

Open the app and take a photos of the product’s barcode, using your phone.

3. Review

The nutrition information of that product will appear followed by suggestions of healthier products and their nutrition information.

4. Compare

It will show nutrition information per 100g and not per serve so you can compare nutrient values of different products.

The app doesn’t provide information on fibre. Aim to choose foods that have 5 g or more of fibre per 100 g. You’ll find this information on the back of the food product in the nutritional information panel.

For more about label reading and the benefits of a fibre-fit eating pattern go to Eating and Drinking.

Eating out tips

Eating out and having takeaway meals are enjoyable parts of life. Having diabetes shouldn’t stop you from sharing a takeaway meal with family and friends. Here are some tips to help you manage your diabetes when eating out.

Check out the menu online ahead of time

This will help you work out what meal you might like and give you time to do some research on the amount carbs the meal is likely to have.

Serving sizes can be larger when you’re eating out

You can estimate your portions based on the size of your hand

Take your insulin with you

You may also prefer to give your injection once the food has arrived just in case your meal is delayed.

Check your blood glucose levels

Checking your blood glucose levels before and after you’ve eaten will help you learn how different meals affect you. Many factors besides carb amounts and portion sizes can impact your blood glucose levels, such as the amount of protein and fat in the meal.

Be prepared and plan ahead

Always bring your hypo kit and some extra snacks.

It’s important to talk to your diabetes health professionals about managing your diabetes when you’re eating out. They can help work out your insulin dosing based on your food choices.

More eating out tips?

Interested in a deeper dive?

For more information on Eating and drinking including:

  • smart choices from the five food groups
  • learning the difference between everyday foods and discretionary foods
  • 5 steps to eating well at home 
  • tips for eating out or on the run 
  • understanding healthy fats  
  • reading food labels 
  • who can help and where to find more information and support.


Reduce your risk of complications

Check your knowledge!

This information is intended as a guide only. It should not replace individual medical advice. If you have any concerns about your health, or further questions, you should contact your health professional.