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Meet Phyllisa who shares tips to manage diabetes with the right diet

Making healthier food choices with type 2 diabetes

Eating healthy when you have diabetes can be difficult, especially when it seems easier just to choose something convenient or to have what everyone else is having. But eating well means learning to make healthy choices for you – regardless of where you are or who you are with. 

A nutritious menu doesn't have to cost more, be boring or take longer to prepare. Your diabetes care team can help you create a healthy meal plan that fits your daily routines.

Simple swaps and diet changes

Diet changes do not necessarily have to mean saying goodbye to all your favourite foods, and small changes can make a big difference to your diet. For instance, you can change the way food is prepared. Here are six simple food swaps that can make your meal healthier.

Carbohydrates matter

Another part of making healthier food choices is being aware of the carbohydrates in food. It is important to read the labels on foods, so you know their carbohydrate content. Glucose is a carbohydrate, so the amount and type of carbohydrate you consume may affect your blood sugar levels and the dosage of insulin you need if you are on  insulin treatment.

Simple  carbohydrates 
  • Include fruit, honey, white bread and dairy
  • Give  food  a  sweet  taste
  • Raise  blood  sugar levels  quickly


Complex carbohydrates
  • Include potatoes, brown bread, and oats
  • Contain more  fibre  and take longer for the body to absorb
  • Raise blood sugar levels more slowly


Keeping track of your carbohydrate intake – also known as 'counting carbs' – can be complicated, but many tools, apps, and online references are available to help you get started. 

Alcohol and type 2 diabetes

In addition to your food choices, you should also be mindful of your alcohol consumption. 

People with type 2 diabetes can still enjoy alcohol but be aware that it can have unpredictable effects on your blood sugar levels. The sugar in alcoholic drinks causes a sharp rise in blood sugar. At the same time, when combined with some diabetes medications, alcohol can also cause hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar.5,6

A sensible rule is to always drink in moderation and never on an empty stomach, and discuss your alcohol intake and diabetes with your healthcare team.

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  1. Sami W, Ansari T, Butt NS, et al. Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2017;11:65-71.
  2. Diabetes Australia. Carbohydrates, protein and fats. Available from: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/carbs-protein-fats/ Last accessed: January 2024.
  3. Healthline. Simple Carbohydrates vs. Complex Carbohydrates. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/simple-carbohydrates-complex-carbohydrates#what-are-carbs. Last accessed: January 2024.
  4. Diabetes Australia. Should I drink alcohol? Available from: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/alcohol/ Last accessed: January 2024.
  5. WebMD. Diabetes and Alcohol. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/drinking-alcohol. Last accessed: January 2024.
  6. Diabetes Australia. Healthy diet for diabetes. Available from: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/healthy-eating/ Last accessed: January 2024.