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There are a lot of recipes in cookbooks and online called ‘diabetic friendly’, but are they really?  In my experience as a type 1 diabetic, I have found that some ‘diabetic friendly’ recipes are high in carbs and contain sugar or high GI sugar substitutes such as maple syrup, honey or regular chocolate. That’s not to say that people with type 1 diabetes can’t eat sweet foods, but personally I try to avoid them because of my diabetes management style. 

I like to keep my blood glucose levels tight and my HbA1c around 5%, so I try to avoid eating foods that may spike my blood glucose levels or require high insulin dosing. Diet plays a big part in how I maintain my BGL and HbA1c and exercise is also a big help. So, I’m always on the hunt for recipes and foods that won’t raise my BGL too high (those with a low Glycemic Index) and I always read the back of food packets to check the sugar and carbohydrate content and the ingredients list.

I don’t like to eat more than two portions of carbohydrate at any one time if I can help it, as this helps me keep my BGL steady. All my recipes are developed with this in mind so they are low carb, no sugar and low fat and are half to one and a half portions per serve.

There are several forms of diabetes including type 1, type 2 and gestational, all of which affect the body differently and require different treatments, management and diet requirement. Everyone is different, but knowing your diabetes type and being aware of the treatment and dietary requirements helps in navigating the world of food products and recipes so you can choose the right ones for you. The following details summarise the different diabetes types in detail.

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. We do not know what causes this auto-immune reaction. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors, there is no cure and it cannot be prevented (source: Diabetes Australia).

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. The cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. Type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors and has strong genetic and family related risk factors (source: Diabetes Australia).

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy when your body cannot cope with the extra demand for insulin production resulting in high blood glucose levels. Gestational diabetes is managed by monitoring blood glucose levels, adopting a healthy eating plan and performing regular physical activity (source: Diabetes Australia).


Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Pre-diabetes has no signs or symptoms. People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular (heart and circulation) disease. Without sustained lifestyle changes, including healthy eating, increased activity and losing weight, approximately one in three people with pre-diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes (source: Diabetes Australia).

For more information on diabetes types, diagnosis, management and support services, here are some great links.

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