Diabetes diet: Your healthy eating plan

A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t mean a restricted diet. There are plenty of healthy, delicious options to enjoy with a few things you will need to cut back.

A diabetes diagnosis can come as a shock and there is no doubt about it, life will change.

Around 1.8 million Australians have diabetes, with many more undiagnosed.

There are different types of diabetes, with the three most common being type 1, type 2 and gestational.

While all are complex and serious, type 2 accounts for 85 per cent of all diabetes.

Type 2 happens when your body becomes resistant to insulin, and is associated with genetics and lifestyle choices.

The good news is keeping blood glucose levels within range can significantly reduce the risk of developing serious health problems.

What foods to eat more of

Dietitian Joel Feren, aka The Nutrition Guy, says eating good food is important.

“One of the main dietary goals if you have diabetes is to ensure you have steady blood sugar levels,” Joel says.

“So choosing foods that deliver a slow and steady rate of glucose is the best practice.”

Dietitian and Body Warfare – The Secret to Permanent Weight Loss author Lisa Renn says people with diabetes have similar health needs as everyone else.

She recommends making sure your carbs are high quality to maximise your intake of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Lisa recommends:

  • Plenty of colourful vegetables and fruits
  • Legumes, seeds and nuts
  • Wholegrains
  • Lean meats and poultry
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Lots of water

What foods to eat less of

While there are several foods you need to be mindful of, Joel says it’s OK to stray from a regular diet occasionally.

“Minimising foods like juice, alcohol, lollies, sweet foods, baked goods, sugary cereals and heavily refined grains will help you better manage the condition,” Joel advises.

Other foods to avoid include:

  • Processed grains such as white rice or white pasta
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Fried foods

Reducing saturated fats in your diet

Lisa recommends reducing saturated or unhealthy fats, added sugars and salt.

“Unhealthy fats are found in foods like chips, biscuits, cakes, lollies, soft drink, juices and full-fat dairy products,” Lisa says.

“Replace saturated fats with healthy unsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil and oily fish and avocado.

“Try not to add salt when you’re cooking, use healthy herbs and spices instead to add flavour to your food.”

Another way of reducing your saturated fat intake is to choose lean cuts of meat, Joel says.

When you eat matters

He says eating on a consistent schedule helps keep blood sugars stable and will help with energy levels throughout the day.

“It’s essential to ensure carbohydrate frequency is maintained, so that there’s a steady supply of carbohydrates over the day,” Joel says.

“Eating regular meals and including snacks, if needed, is something you should aim for.”

Get support or advice

Lisa stresses there is no one size fits all approach to eating well and managing diabetes.

She encourages individuals to seek personalised advice from a qualified health professional.

Written by Liz McGrath.