Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy your favourite healthy foods. The good news is that there is no such thing as a “diabetic diet”! A healthy diet for people with diabetes is the same as what’s healthy for the rest of the population.
The key is understanding how these foods might impact on your blood glucose level (BGL).
The Australian Dietary Guidelines help us make informed decisions about the different types of food and drink that make up a healthy diet. The guidelines are suitable for people with diabetes, but they are general. Your age, gender and the level of physical activity you do will inform the number of recommended serves from each food group as well as your daily energy requirements.
That’s why it’s important you discuss your specific dietary needs with members of your diabetes health care team including your dietitian, diabetes educator, GP or endocrinologist.
Above are common foods people think you can't eat if you have diabetes, click on an item to find out if it's ok to eat.
The food we eat is categorised into different groups. To help put together a healthy diet it is important we understand which foods belong to each group, and how much of these foods it is recommended we eat.
We know that all food doesn’t grow on trees and making a healthy choice when it comes to packaged food can be very confusing.
So how do you choose one packaged product over another? The trick is in reading the food packaging labels and understanding what to look for.
Servings per package: 3
Serving size: 150g
|Quantity per Serving||Quantity per 100g|
|*Percentage of recommended dietry intake|
Ingredients: Whole milk, concentrated skim milk, sugar, banana (8%), strawberry (6%), grape (4%), peach (2%), pineapple (2%), gelatine, culture, thickener (1442).
All quantities above are averages
TouchHover over the different sections in the food label and learn more about each nutrient group.
Energy is measured in kilojoules (or calories). Our individual energy needs depend on many factors. Looking at energy intake is important when considering how much of a product we eat (portion size).
Protein is an essential nutrient made up mainly of amino acids. Protein is vital for many body processes, including building and maintaining muscle.
Total fat includes both healthy and unhealthy fats. Fat has the most kilojoules per gram of all nutrients so aim for foods with less than 10g of fat per 100g to help manage your weight.
Saturated fats Aim for the lowest per 100g for a healthy heart.
Carbohydrate is the main source of energy for our body. Carbohydrate includes starches and sugars in food.
Sugars Avoiding all sugar is not necessary, choose healthy sources like fruit or dairy. If there is more than 15g of sugar per 100g, check that sugar is not listed high on the list of ingredients.
Dietary fibre Not all labels include fibre. Aim for at least 6g of fibre per 100g, especially in breads and cereals.
Sodium Food with less than 400mg per 100g are good choices. Food with less than 120mg per 100g or fresh foods are best.
Ingredients are listed from greatest to smallest . Look for healthy ingredients high up this list.
Serving per package is the number of portions.
Serving size is the portion size chosen by the manufacturer. It may not be the same as your portion.
Per serve tells us what nutrition we are getting from one serve of the food/drink.
Per 100g allows us to compare the nutrition between different products.
Examples of carbohydrate foods include:
Carbohydrate foods are one of the body’s main energy sources. Carbohydrates are broken down in our digestive system into glucose. This glucose is then released into the blood stream where it can travel around the body and be used for energy.
For most people with diabetes it is advised that you include some carbohydrate food at every meal. When thinking about which carbohydrate foods to include as part of your meals and snacks, it is important to consider both the amount of carbohydrate and the type of carbohydrate, as both of these factors will impact on your BGLs.
Everybody is different, and the amount of food and carbohydrates you need will depend on your individual energy needs. Having three regular meals throughout the day will help to manage your BGLs. Your health care team, including your dietitian, diabetes educator or endocrinologist will be able to help you choose foods that suit your needs.
Diabetes Queensland is your first place to turn to for help, advice and information about living with diabetes. Learn more about Diabetes Queensland membership.
Fats are an important part of your diet and contain essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E. They are high in energy (kilojoules), so we need to choose foods containing fat carefully.
There are four types of fat, and each fat has a different effect on your body:
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in fish, avocados and nuts, as well as olive, sunflower, peanut and canola oil. These fats help to reduce the risk of heart disease!
Saturated fats are found in foods like processed and fatty meats, full fat milk products, butter, coconut and palm oils. It is recommended you limit saturated fat in your diet as it can increase your cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease.
Trans fats are found in some processed biscuits and commercially-made bakery products. They act the same way as saturated fats in the body so it’s recommended we minimise our intake of these fats.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers can support individuals and families in manging diabetes and connect you with other health professionals.
The amount of carbohydrate refers to both the serving size and the carbohydrate content of the food.
The amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Can be measured with capillary (taken from a finger prick) or venous (pathology test) blood.
An abbreviation of blood glucose level, BGLs refers to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
Carbohydrates are one of the body's main energy sources. Carbohydrates are broken down in our digestive system into glucose. This glucose is then released into the bloodstream where it can travel around the body and be used for energy.
Includes high density liproprotein cholesterol (HDL) and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). It is ideal to have high HDL and low LDL as HDL helps prevent heart disease by moving fat to the liver to be processed, whereas LDL encourages fat to deposit in our arteries.
A diabetes educator will provide you with information to manage your diabetes. They can also help you develop action plans for the unexpected (e.g. low or high BGLs).
A dentist assists with oral health and provides treatment.
Your dietitian can provide you with individualised information about healthy eating.
The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is a blood test that is used to assess how well your kidneys are working.
An endocrinologist is a medical specialist who sees people with diabetes, especially those with type 1 diabetes, or those who are pregnant and have diabetes.
Your GP has a central role in overall assessment and management. Visit your GP regularly and discuss any problems as soon as they arise. Other members of your team, including specialists, will link in with your GP.
The glycaemic index (GI) is a way of describing how a carbohydrate containing food affects blood glucose levels.
Refers to a raised level of glucose in the blood.
Refers to a low level of glucose in the blood.
A measure of, on average, how much glucose has been in your blood stream over the previous 2-3 months. It is reported either as a percentage (%) or in mmol/mol.
High density liproprotein cholesterol (otherwise known as 'good' cholesterol) is the type of cholesterol carrier which takes fats from our bloodstream, to our liver for processing. It is ideal to have high levels of HDL cholesterol as this can help prevent heart disease.
Ketones are compounds produced by the body when fat is broken down for energy. Small amounts of ketones in the bloodstream are harmless. However, in large amounts they can be extremely dangerous.
Low density lipoprotein cholesterol (otherwise known as 'bad' cholesterol) is the type of cholesterol carrier which deposits fat in our arteries. High levels of this cholesterol can lead to blockages in the arteries and heart disease.
This urine test measures how much albumin (protein) is released through the kidneys which can indicate kidney damage.
Damage to the big blood vessels that can lead to peripheral vascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
Damage to the small blood vessels that can cause eye, kidney, feet and nerve problems.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are found in fish, avocados and nuts, as well as olive, sunflower, peanut and canola oil. These fats help to increase HDL cholesterol and decrease LDL cholesterol, which can decrease the risk of heart disease.
An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist who can monitor any changes in your eyes and provide treatment.
Your optometrist assesses eye health and prescribes your glasses.
Refers to nerve damage of the feet or hands.
Damage to the blood vessels in the legs and feet resulting in limited blood supply, pain and sensation changes.
A pharmacist prepares and dispenses drugs and medicine. They can also give you advice about your medicines.
A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can give advice about exercise choices.
A podiatrist will advise you on how to keep your feet healthy and treat foot problems.
A psychiatrist is a medical specialist who can help people who have emotional and psychological problems.
A psychologist counsels people with emotional and psychological problems and can help you make lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking.
A social worker can provide counselling to individuals and families regarding personal and family problems.
Saturated fats are found in foods like processed and fatty meats, full fat milk products, butter, coconut and palm oils. It is recommended you limit saturated fat in your diet as it can increase LDL cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of heart disease.
Trans fats are found in some processed biscuits and commercially-made bakery products. They act the same way as saturated fats in the body so it's recommended we minimise our intake of these fats.
The type of carbohydrate refers to the glycaemic index (GI) of the food. The glycaemic index (GI) is a way of describing how a carbohydrate food affects blood glucose levels.
A type of fat found in the blood that the body uses for fuel or stores away.