Diabetes including Gestational Diabetes Nutrition

Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of serious lifelong conditions where someone has too much glucose in the blood (a high blood sugar level). An estimated 1.7 million Australians are currently living with diabetes and an estimated 500,000 people don’t even know they have it. If left untreated, high blood sugar levels in diabetes can cause damage to the body’s blood vessels and nerves, leading to long term consequences such as heart, kidney and eye disease, and nerve damage in the feet.

There are 2 main types of diabetes: type 1 & type 2. Diabetes that occurs during pregnancy is called Gestational Diabetes. Diabetes can be diagnosed by a blood test arranged by your doctor.

What is type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a life-long autoimmune condition that is usually discovered in childhood or early adulthood but can occur at any age. 

In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. As the body needs insulin to survive, people with type 1 diabetes must replace this insulin every day.  At present, insulin can only be given by injection or through a pump.  Type 1 diabetes affects approximately 10-15 percent of the people currently diagnosed with diabetes.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes represents 85 to 90 percent of all people with diabetes. The condition can occur at any age, however is most common among those who are overweight and aged 40 years or older.

While type 1 diabetes is incurable, type 2 diabetes can be well managed through lifestyle changes such as weight loss.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is when a pregnant woman continues to produce insulin normally, but the hormones produced during pregnancy make their bodies less responsive to this insulin. This means normal blood glucose levels cannot be maintained while pregnant. Gestational diabetes occurs in 5 to 10 percent of Australian women during pregnancy, and usually goes away once the baby is born.


Of the women who develop gestational diabetes, a small proportion go on to develop diabetes in later life. Good management after pregnancy helps to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

How do you treat diabetes?

The good news is that lifestyle factors play a large role in type 2 diabetes so there’s a lot you can do to manage it & even possibly reverse some of the effects.


Some of these things can include maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and healthy eating. A diet rich in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, low fat dairy and lean protein can help manage the high sugar levels of people with type 2 diabetes.


 What is the Glycaemic Index?

Carbohydrate is the nutrient in food that is broken down to glucose.

Glycaemic Index is a measure of how quickly carbohydrate foods are digested & then appear as glucose in the blood. The Glycaemic Index can be used to help decide which foods will make you feel full for longer. Low GI foods are recommended.

I heard that I need to eat low carb. Is that true? 

Yes, recent evidence demonstrates that low carbohydrate eating can be useful for people with diabetes to reduce their blood glucose readings and to assist weight loss. A low carbohydrate diet for someone with diabetes should be done in a safe way for blood glucose control & still be adequate for good nutrition.

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