The goal of diabetes management is to reduce the harmful effects of having either too much or too little glucose in the blood by maintaining blood glucose levels within a target range. The food that we eat affects blood glucose levels because food and drink is converted to glucose in the body. Some kinds of food produce higher glucose levels than others, or increase glucose levels for longer periods. This means that diet is an important consideration for people with diabetes.
Dietary changes are proven to reduce blood glucose levels significantly. Following a healthy diet can reduce HbA1c (a measure of longer-term glucose control) by approximately 1% in people with type 1 diabetes and by 1 to 2% in people with type 2 diabetes.
In addition, making changes to our diet (and being more physically active) can help reduce obesity, lower risk of heart disease or stroke, and control high blood pressure – all of these health problems are more common in people with diabetes.
It is recommended that people with diabetes receive dietary advice from a state-registered dietitian as part of the ongoing care provided by their diabetes healthcare team. This should take account of the following:
- Individual health needs such as glucose control, weight management, risk of heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure.
- Individual preferences about favourite types of food, snacks and consumption of alcoholic drinks.
- The person’s background, including periods of fasting and foods that are eaten for cultural or religious reasons.
- Specific nutritional requirements such as during pregnancy, or in younger or older age groups.
- Individual diabetes treatment plan.