If you or a family member have diabetes, you will already be aware that many dietary approaches can be suitable. There is no ‘one’ diabetic diet! The right diet will be balanced, enjoyable, sustainable and provide all the nutrients you need. It will also help to keep blood sugar levels stable, provide fibre for optimal bowel health, and good fats and antioxidants to keep your heart and circulatory system healthy.
What does a balanced diet look like?
A good way to ensure you are covering these nutrition bases, is by eating a balance of foods from the core food groups. Depending on your gender, age, activity level and individual health circumstances, suggested serves per day will vary. As a guide, a balanced diet for most adults looks like:
- Fruits (at least 2 serves/day)
- Vegetables and legumes (at least 5 serves/day)
- Grains and cereals like rice, pasta, breads and breakfast cereals (4-6 serves/day)
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, tofu, egg, nuts ( 2-3 serves/day )
- Dairy foods or fortified alternatives (2 ½ - 4 serves/day)
- Daily inclusion of healthy fats in meals and cooking, eg. olive oil, avocado, oily fish
*Refer to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating for more information regarding what constitutes ‘1 serve’ for different food groups, and the suggested targets for your stage of life. For individual dietary advice specific to your health concerns, consult your doctor or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Carbohydrates and the diabetic diet
When most people think of diabetes, they automatically think of sugar. But there are a range of foods from the core food groups that all break down to glucose in your blood, and can impact on your blood sugar levels.
Examples of carbohydrate foods include:
- Starchy vegetables (eg. potato, pumpkin, corn) and legumes (baked beans, lentils, chick peas)
- All fruit (fresh, dried, juices)
- Grain-based starches like bread, wraps, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles and rice
- Milk contains a natural carbohydrate called lactose, and dairy products like sweetened yoghurt, milk drinks, custard and ice cream are more concentrated in sugars
- Sugar (all types) and other sweeteners eg. honey, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrates
- Most desserts, cakes, biscuits, lollies, chocolate, and ice cream are high in starch and/or sugars
Carbohydrate foods are an important source of fuel for our bodies. For best management of energy levels and blood glucose, the key is portion size and spacing carbohydrates throughout the day (rather than avoidance).
The rate that different carbohydrate foods are absorbed into our blood stream is also important - and this concept is commonly known as the Glycemic Index (GI). Low GI foods are slowly absorbed, meaning a more gradual rise and a lower spike in blood sugar levels. Some examples of low GI carbohydrates include legumes, sweet corn, rolled oats and Greek Yoghurt. We Feed You meals include a variety of low GI grains and vegetables in meals across their Diabetic Friendly meal range.
What about carbohydrate counting?
Some people regulate their intake through the day by measuring carbohydrate in ‘exchanges’. Most lists reference 15g of carbohydrate for one exchange, and examples of this are:
- 1 regular slice of bread = 15g carbohydrate
- 1/3 cup of rice or ½ cup pasta = 15g carbohydrate
- 1 apple or 150mL juice = 15g carbohydrates
Spacing your carbohydrate exchanges evenly over the day may look like:
- Allowing 2-4 exchanges per main meal, and 1-2 exchanges per snack.
Nb. Some diabetics who have insulin pumps are taught to use a system of 10g exchanges. For more detailed information regarding carbohydrate counting and Glycaemic Index, seek individualised advice from an Accredited Practising Dietitian or Diabetes Educator.
COMING SOON! We Feed You Diabetic Friendly Range
– our criteria for diabetic friendly meals
While individual approaches to eating for diabetes will vary, you can be assured that our range of diabetic friendly meals have all been formulated to meet key criteria. These criteria are based on expert dietary and health recommendations, and relate to the following guidelines:
We Feed You Diabetic Friendly Meals contain:
- Moderate total carbohydrate levels (most between 2-3 carbohydrate ‘exchanges’ of 15g)
- Generous fibre content (at least 1g fibre for each 10g carbohydrate)
- Low sodium content (under 700mg/meal) and low sugar content (under 5g/100g)
- Healthy fat ratios (mostly unsaturated fats, low levels of saturated fat)
- A variety of nutrient-rich plant foods across the range, including vegetables, herbs, spices, beans and grains, to promote diet variety and a healthy gut microbiome.
- Moderate energy content, mostly under 2000kJ (478 calories) per serve
- Portion sizes that are substantial and satisfying (350 – 400g serves), so they don’t feel like ‘diet food’ that leaves you wanting more.
Good to know:
The meals in our Diabetic Friendly range have been specifically designed according to these guidelines, but that doesn’t mean that meals from our other menus won’t suit people with diabetes. Because we base our meals on real, fresh minimally processed foods, most are good choices for people with diabetes, in the context of a varied and balanced diet.
A healthy lifestyle for managing diabetes
Keeping alcohol within healthy guidelines and watching your intake of highly processed convenience / take away foods, and avoiding large amounts of refined sugars are also good strategies for optimal health with diabetes.
We acknowledge that managing diabetes is not just about eating healthy. Keeping active is a very key part of keeping your body fit, healthy and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Regular exercise doesn’t have to be intense to provide benefits. Healthy activities include walking, bike riding, swimming, yoga, dance and even include gardening and household chores.
Some healthy snack ideas for diabetes:
Greek yoghurt with berries and oats
Pesto or cheese and tomato with grainy crackers
Veggie sticks with dips like hummus or Tzatziki
A slice of sourdough with avocado or nut butter
Unsalted mixed nuts (all types) or fruit and nut trail mix
Homemade fruit / vegetable muffins
Does the Diabetic Friendly range contain added sugar?
We understand that managing blood sugar levels and diabetes is not about banning every gram of sugar. Some culinary ingredients we use may contain natural or added sugars, but you can be assured that the level of sugar in our diabetic meal range is very low (under 5g sugar /100g).
How much carbohydrate do Diabetic Friendly meals contain?
We Feed You meals are not formulated to be ‘no carb’, because we understand that carbohydrates are a key fuel source, and part of a balanced diet. The carbohydrate content of our Diabetic Friendly meals will vary, but most meals have between 30-40g carbohydrate, and none have more than 60g carbohydrate. This equates to around 2-3 x 15g carbohydrate ‘exchanges’ per meal.
We also use lots of minimally processed ingredients like brown rice, sweet potato and legumes in our meals, which are slower released (lower ‘GI’) and have a favourable effect on blood sugar levels.
Is the diabetic friendly range low in salt?
Yes! The salt (sodium) content of the Diabetic Friendly We Feed You meals (and most our range for that matter) are well below 400mg/100g – indicating a ‘good choice’ according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. All meals in this range are <700mg/serve.
High levels of salt in the diet can contribute to high blood pressure and circulatory problems, particularly when combined with diabetes. Many processed foods (particularly frozen meals) are high in salt, so we take pride in offering a low sodium, healthy alternative.
Are diabetic friendly meals suitable for everyone with diabetes?
We Feed You acknowledges that there are a number of different dietary approaches that are suitable for people with diabetes. While our meals are carefully designed to be balanced and appropriate for most people with diabetes, they may not suit some individuals who follow specific dietary approaches. Please consult your doctor or Accredited Practising Dietitian for advice regarding the suitability of our Diabetic Friendly range for your individual circumstances.
Are Diabetic Friendly meals suitable for weight loss?
Our Diabetic Friendly range of meals are specifically formulated for diabetes, which essentially means they are balanced, low in added sugars and contain real, nutrient rich foods. This means that our Diabetic Friendly meals are absolutely suitable options as part of a calorie restricted or weight management approach. Once again, please seek advice from your health professional regarding the suitability of our Diabetic Friendly meals in your specific goals and requirements.