Diabetes's 101 (Health and Well Being)

Diabetes Blog Post - Lakanto Website


Diabetes 101


So you've recently received a diagnosis of diabetes, and it's completely natural to have a whirlwind of thoughts and questions swirling in your mind. What does this mean for you? What lifestyle changes do you need to make? How did this happen? Are carbs off-limits now? Will your cooking habits have to completely change?

Whether your diagnosis came as a surprise or not, it can be overwhelming, and you may have many uncertainties. Lakanto Australia is here to offer support and has gathered essential information below to help you navigate this new chapter.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. In Australia, approximately 280 people are diagnosed with diabetes every day, and there are around 1.7 million Australians living with the condition. Look at it as an opportunity to make positive changes and choices that will promote your overall health and well-being, both now and in the future.

So, what exactly is diabetes?

In simple terms, diabetes is a condition characterised by high levels of glucose, or sugar, in the blood.

There are three primary types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: This is an autoimmune condition that affects about 10% of cases. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors, and its exact cause is still unknown. Currently, there is no cure or prevention for type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes: This is a chronic condition that accounts for approximately 85% of cases. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or gradually loses its ability to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. The exact causes of type 2 diabetes are not fully understood, but it is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors, genetics, and family history.

Gestational diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels appear. Most women no longer have diabetes after giving birth, but some may continue to have high blood glucose levels.

While all three types of diabetes involve the body's inability to regulate glucose levels effectively, they have different underlying mechanisms.

Type 1 diabetes: The body produces little or no insulin due to an autoimmune reaction. Insulin replacement through daily injections is necessary.

Type 2 diabetes: The body produces insulin, but it does not work efficiently. This is known as insulin resistance. Over time, the body may struggle to produce enough insulin, resulting in elevated blood glucose levels.

Gestational diabetes: Elevated blood glucose levels occur during pregnancy and usually resolve after delivery.

As Type 2 diabetes is the most common diagnosis, the majority of this content will focus on it. However, if you would like more information on the other two types of diabetes, please consult your doctor or dietitian.


Now that we understand the basics of diabetes, let's delve into the role of insulin and why it is crucial for our bodies.

Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas. Its primary role is to help move glucose from the food we eat into cells, where it can be used as energy.

In Type 1 Diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin due to an autoimmune reaction that destroys the cells responsible for insulin production. Therefore, daily insulin injections are necessary.

On the other hand, Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the body produces insulin, but it doesn't work as effectively as it should. This is known as insulin resistance. To compensate for this, the body produces more insulin, but eventually, it may not be able to produce enough to maintain proper balance. As a result, glucose remains in the bloodstream.

While lifestyle and diet changes can help delay the need for medication or insulin to stabilise blood glucose levels, it's important to understand that insulin may be required as the condition progresses naturally.


No, you don't have to avoid all sugar. It's important to understand that our bodies need sugar, specifically glucose, to function properly.

Glucose is what fuels our brain and muscles and provides the energy we need for our daily activities like playing with our kids, cooking meals, walking the dog, and taking care of our gardens. However, it's crucial to maintain a balance when it comes to glucose intake. Too little glucose can make us feel weak and shaky, while too much can lead to symptoms like tiredness, lethargy, and potential damage to blood vessels. Additionally, an excess of glucose can cause our pancreas to work overtime producing insulin.

We get glucose from the food we eat, especially from foods that contain carbohydrates. Nutritious options like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good sources of carbs. On the other hand, discretionary foods such as cakes, biscuits, chips, pies, pizza, chocolate, lollies, and soft drinks often have high levels of carbs and sugar. The problem arises when these discretionary foods are consumed on a regular basis instead of being treated as occasional indulgences. It's important to remember that these items are energy-dense rather than nutrient-dense and can significantly impact blood sugar levels. For individuals with diabetes, the goal is to maintain stable blood sugar levels, which means limiting foods that make it spike.

Out of the three key nutrients in our food - fat, protein, and carbohydrate - carbohydrate has the most significant impact on blood glucose levels. The effect of carbohydrate consumption depends on both the amount of carbs and the type of carbs consumed.

Carbohydrate containing foods:

To monitor carb intake, diabetics often use carbohydrate counting, which involves estimating the amount of carbs in a food. A carbohydrate exchange is an amount of food containing approximately 15 grams of carbs. Exchanges are not based on weight, so a slice of bread weighing 40 grams may only contain 15 grams of carbs (one exchange)..

Different carbohydrate foods can be ‘exchanged’ for one another so that you consume a similar amount of carbohydrate. Some examples of one carbohydrate exchange include:

•         1 slice of bread

•         ⅓ cup of cooked rice

•         1 cup of milk

•         1 medium apple


The amount of carbohydrate you need each day depends on factors like age, gender, weight, and activity levels. It is best to consult with a dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of carbohydrate to eat at each meal and snack. The table provides a general guide to the amount of carbohydrate needed at each main meal. However, a healthy diet can include more or less carbohydrate than this.

General guide to the amount of carbohydrate at each main meal:


Grams of carbohydrate at main meals

Carbohydrate exchanges








Snacks: For those who use insulin or certain blood glucose lowering medications, it's important to consult with your healthcare team to determine if you need carbohydrate-based snacks. A general guide for adults is to aim for 1-2 carbohydrate exchanges per snack (15-30 grams of carbohydrate).

Okay, so what should I eat then?

Including these foods and the serving amounts in your daily diet may be a huge change however there are plenty of ways to make all these foods tasty as well as healthy. Lakanto is a huge advocate for eating well without the compromise on taste - Find plenty of recipe inspo over at lakanto.com.au.

Dietary fat

Choose healthier sources of fat, such as unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Limit foods high in saturated fats, like processed deli meats, ice cream, and chocolate, to reduce the risk of heart disease. Instead of butter, try drizzling olive oil on your toast for a healthy, tasty alternative.


Increase your daily fibre intake by choosing high-fibre breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Women should aim for 25g of fibre per day, while men should aim for 30g. It's important to drink plenty of water when increasing your fibre intake to maintain digestive health and prevent constipation.


Include a variety of fruits like apples, berries, oranges, peaches, bananas, and melons in your diet. opt for whole fruits instead of juices for their fibre content. Aim for 2 servings of fruit per day. One serving can be a medium-sized apple, orange, or pear, or two small kiwifruits or plums.


All vegetables can be part of a diabetic's diet. Aim for 5 servings of vegetables per day. One serving can be 1 cup of raw vegetables, 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, or 1/2 cup of canned beans or legumes.

Low GI vegetables: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Green beans, Eggplant, Capsicum, Spinach, Celery, Artichoke, Zucchini, Sweet Potato.

High Fibre: Carrots, Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, Avocado

Include 6 servings of wholegrains per day, such as bread (whole grain, multigrain, rye, sourdough), whole meal pasta, soba noodles, basmati, long grain, brown rice, quinoa, barley, pearl couscous, buckwheat, freekeh, semolina, and oats.

Dairy: Aim for 2.5 serves per day, such as 1 cup of milk, 3/4 cup of yoghurt, ricotta or 100g almonds with skin.