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Tips on the importance of a varied diet for people with diabetes

Tips on the importance of a varied diet for people with diabetes, from Australian Diabetes Council dietitian Kate Guthrie.

Many of us are aware of the importance of eating a diet low in saturated fat, high in fibre and low in salt. However, the importance of a varied diet is lesser-known. Variety means having a range of foods from each of the food groups, and a variety of foods within the same food group.

It's great to have five serves of vegies each day, but it's even better to ensure that these five serves vary in colour and texture. Each food has a unique group of nutrients and often something special to offer. So diets that eliminate particular foods or an entire food group usually miss out on valuable vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

To get the benefits of all healthy foods, choose a variety of: Grains; Vegetables; legumes and fruit; Low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese; and Lean meat, fish, poultry and alternatives.

Choose smaller amounts of less nourishing foods such as, chips and chocolate, and have only as a treat.

Where possible, try and be consistent day to day. A few days that run differently may be ok, however irregular meals every day may cause undesirable fluctuations in your blood glucose levels.

Meal times may vary with your holiday lifestyle. While I wouldn't recommend sleeping in til lunchtime, a few extra hours is usually ok and then push back both breakfast and lunch meals by a few hours. A late heavy dinner however is best avoided, so if lunch is late maybe have a light dinner.

Try to remember to have a meal every five to six hours achieving three main meals every day. Snacks may be skipped by some people, but others may not be able to do this because of their diabetes medication.

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Diabetes sees us as all the same, it doesn't care what age, race or gender we might be. The Australian Diabetes Council however, does care who we are and is there to create a shared voice for diabetes.

Australian Diabetes Council is Australia's oldest and largest not-for-profit organisation focused on providing support and services nationally and internationally to people living with and at risk of diabetes, their families, carers, friends and allied health professionals. To find out more, please contact 1300 342 238.

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