In honour of National Diabetes Month, we look at the role of food in the diabetic diet and share some insights from our community of Type 1’s who have found what works for them (often with a bit of trial and error along the way).
It’s fair to say that the guidance on a diabetic diet is a minefield of often conflicting information. Low sugar/no sugar, ditching fruit n’ veg, banning starchy foods! There is so much ‘advice’ out there, much of which can be overwhelming and tricky to process – especially if you’re newly diagnosed.
Managing diabetes through diet
There’s no doubt that diabetes can be a challenging condition to manage. But armed with the right info, a sound knowledge of your body and eating the right types of foods can make navigating the maze of blood sugar fluctuations A LOT easier.
Whilst there is no such thing as a ‘Type 1 diet’, the general advice is to eat a healthy, balanced diet comprising fruit & veg, starchy foods, protein, dairy/plant-based alternatives and fats.
Healthier food choices that are lower in saturated fat, sugar and salt are a good way to help control blood fats and blood pressure. But the biggest player of all is of course carbs!
Breaking down carbs
When? How much? What type? How often?
Carbohydrates form the very backbone of diabetes management but how much your body REALLY needs comes down to things like age, activity levels and overall health goals. Some diabetics find serious wins in eating less carbs whilst others may choose to eat a diet rich in healthier carbs.
Low carb or not, the quality of the carbohydrates you put in your body is a big part of managing blood glucose levels. Complex, wholegrains and fibre-rich starchy veggies are always going to serve you better than a sweet, sugary drink for example.
The low down on low carb
Whilst the jury is still out on the impact of a low carb diet, many Type 1’s have reported positive results – including more stabilised blood glucose levels - by switching to lower carb foods.
And it can be good for Type 2 Diabetics too! A study, published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year found that strictly adhering to a low carb diet for six months was associated with higher rates of remission among people with Type 2 diabetes.
Low carb recipes
Experimenting in the kitchen can be a fun way to figure out what works for you and your blood sugar levels. Try these recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Naturally lower in carbs, they are loaded with nutrients and are super easy to meal prep if you’re pressed for time.
Breakfast: Coconut Cauli Oats
This dairy and grain-free alternative to oats will satisfy you whilst keeping your carb intake low.
LUNCH: Sesame Soy Tofu Skewers
Two portions of veg and rich in protein and fibre, these plant-based skewers contain just 17 grams of carbs per serving. Perfectly paired with Fullgreen Riced Cauliflower, you can prep this the night before.
DINNER: Stuffed Butternut Squash
This seasonal squash recipe contains 2 servings of vegetables with just 14g carbs per servings. Keep it plant based or serve it with your choice of protein.
Tips from Type 1's
Everyone is different when it comes to managing diabetes but sharing successes (and those game changing blood sugar wins!) is a great way to spread positivity and useful insights.
Take a look at these tips from Type 1’s:
“I changed my meals and snacks to lower carb versions and within the first week my blood sugars were the steadiest they’ve ever been. I have finally found a way to manage my type 1 diabetes that is enjoyable, healthy and sustainable.”
“Blood sugars aren’t judgements, they are information! I pair this positive mindset with careful carb counting, eating well and staying active.”
“Regular exercise and healthy homemade low carb meals have been a big help in managing my diabetes.”
“I attend a strength and conditioning class at my local gym every day which has helped me get my a1c from 10 to 6.4!”
“Counting carbs and injecting insulin in a timely manner helps to maintain my sugar levels.”
“I plan my meals, workout and keep track of my carbs and calorie intake.”
“Carb counting allows me to adjust my insulin for any type of food, making blood sugar management a little easier.”
“Remembering to pre-bolus has been a game changer for me. Just a few units 15 minutes before eating has helped control those spikes.”