Foods for Diabetics: Conquer Diabetes with Your Diet!

Healthy foods for diabetics are crucial for individuals managing this condition. Living with diabetes demands careful attention to diet and lifestyle choices. Diet plays a fundamental role in managing blood sugar levels and overall health. 

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterised by elevated blood sugar levels. There are different types of diabetes, including type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. According to Diabetes Australia, an estimated 1.8 million Australians have diabetes, with approximately 280 Australians developing diabetes every day (1). Type 2 diabetes is the most common form, accounting for about 85-90% of all cases.

How Important is Diet for People with Diabetes?

Diet plays a crucial role in managing diabetes by influencing blood sugar levels, weight management, and overall health (2). A well-balanced diet helps individuals with diabetes maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day, reducing the risk of hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) (2). By making healthy food choices, individuals with diabetes can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance, and better manage their condition (2). Including appropriate foods for diabetics in their diet plan is essential for maintaining optimal health. In addition to blood sugar control, a healthy diet can help lower the risk of other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease (2).

What are Key Nutrients and Foods for Diabetics?

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates have the most significant impact on blood sugar levels and should be monitored closely by individuals with diabetes. Choosing carbohydrates with a low glycaemic index (GI) can help regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. The glycaemic index is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-containing foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels after consumption. Low GI carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables, are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a gradual and steady increase in blood sugar levels. This slow release of glucose helps prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, making low GI carbohydrates a preferred choice for individuals with diabetes. Examples of low GI carbohydrates include, quinoa, barley, long grain rice, rolled oats, lentils, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and most non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower.
  • Protein: Protein plays a crucial role in stabilising blood sugar levels and promoting satiety. Lean protein sources provide essential amino acids without excessive saturated fat and cholesterol. Skinless poultry such as chicken and turkey, as well as fish like salmon, tuna, and trout, are nutrient-dense options that can be enjoyed freely. Incorporating plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh, and legumes like beans and lentils into meals also provides a wealth of nutrients without significantly affecting blood sugar levels.
  • Fibre: Fibre-rich foods help regulate blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and promote heart health. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of dietary fibre and should be included in a diabetic diet.
  • Healthy Fats: Including healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, can help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Avocados are a nutrient-dense source of monounsaturated fats, fibre, and potassium. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are rich in heart-healthy fats, protein, and fibre. Olive oil, used in moderation, provides an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. It’s essential to limit saturated and trans fats, commonly found in processed foods and fried foods, as they can increase cholesterol levels and contribute to insulin resistance.
  • Fruits: While fruits contain natural sugars, they are also rich in fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are low in sugar, making them an ideal choice for individuals with diabetes. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can be enjoyed fresh or frozen and added to smoothies, yoghurt, or porridge for a flavourful and nutrient-packed meal.

Incorporating a variety of these nutrient-rich foods for diabetics into meals and snacks can help individuals with diabetes maintain stable blood sugar levels, promote overall health, and reduce the risk of complications associated with the condition.

What are Foods to Avoid for Diabetes?

While certain foods can help manage diabetes, other foods should be limited or avoided altogether. Processed foods high in refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and unhealthy fats are all foods to avoid for diabetes. It’s also important for individuals with diabetes to limit their intake of sugary beverages, sweets, and fried foods as these can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.

Meal Planning Tips for Diabetics

Effective meal planning is key to maintaining stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. We suggest dividing meals into smaller, more frequent portions throughout the days and incorporating a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Additionally, including foods for diabetics like low GI carbohydrates can help prevent sudden blood sugar spikes.

What Foods Can Diabetics Eat Freely?

While moderation is key, there are certain foods for diabetes that individuals can enjoy more freely. We recommend focusing on nutrient-dense foods, such as non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods have minimal impact on blood sugar levels and can be consumed in larger quantities.


Managing diabetes through diet requires knowledge, planning, and commitment. By choosing nutrient-rich foods, controlling portion sizes, and monitoring blood sugar levels, individuals with diabetes can improve their overall health and well-being. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalised dietary advice tailored to your specific needs and preferences.

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Diabetes Wellness Australia utilises a variety of credible and reliable sources to support and provide valuable insights into the topic being discussed. From academic journals to government reports, each reference has been carefully selected to add depth and richness of our articles.

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