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Juggling diabetes at work

Once again we share a post from our good friend Nikki Wallis, on a trick she learned to help her manage her diabetes at work. Enjoy!

Do you find it tricky to manage your diabetes when you have a million things going on?

Diabetes is challenging at the best of times, but let’s face it, it can be even trickier at work or uni, or when you have multiple deadlines and a million things on your mind.

I had a recent experience that changed the way I now do things at work.

It taught me to be more confident with my diabetes and to find little tricks to make managing my diabetes in difference situations, that much easier.

So what happened? 

I was running a meeting recently and towards the end, I found myself starting to pause. 

At that point, I realised that my worst fear had come true … my bloods were starting to drop. 

I’ve had type 1 diabetes for over 35 years and it’s definitely a 24/7 condition.

Diabetes is challenging at the best of times; there’s the constant monitoring of blood sugar levels, carbohydrate counting and insulin dosing.

But every now and then, diabetes slaps you in the face, and throws you a curve-ball you weren’t expecting. 

Unexpected lows are bad enough on a normal day at home, but in the workplace this can be even tougher.

I had done a test before the meeting and was 5.2, so I wasn’t expecting my bloods to drop much. But they did. 

Generally I find it easy to manage my diabetes at work, because I’m lucky to have an office job and can test my bloods and have a snack at any time if I need to.

But when my bloods started to fall during this meeting, it rattled me, because I wasn’t expecting to experience what I did. 


My instinct was to interrupt the meeting to reach into my bag for some lollies.

But I was shocked to find that my survival instinct was suppressed by thoughts of how this would be perceived by people in the room.

“You don’t eat in meetings, it’s rude,” I thought. 

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so for me, professionally there is no room for error.

In a world driven by KPIs, deadlines, competition and constant drive to be better, we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves, with or without diabetes.

The dilemma 

What to do.

I thought of excusing myself and pretending I had to go to the bathroom, but again, survival instinct was taken over by thoughts of how this would be perceived.

“You should have gone to the bathroom before the meeting started, how disorganised,” I thought. 

Then a light bulb idea came to mind – I’d pretend I have a really important phone call, that way I could leave the room.

But no, again my survival instinct was quashed by thoughts of how this would be perceived.

So I was left with only one option – to walk the plank and finish the meeting. This is exactly what I did.

Aftermath realisation 

Once the meeting was over, I politely dashed out of the room and ate some lollies. I felt my blood sugars returning to normal, which generally is a relief, but not this time.

The reality of the situation had kicked in.

I wish I had gone with my gut and intervened.

The irony was that the room was full of people who work in health and know all about diabetes and healthcare.

In hindsight, no one would have blinked an eye-lid if I’d said something.

At that moment, I realised just how much pressure I had put on myself to be, dare I say it, ‘normal’. 

This is the struggle that many of us face. 

Unfortunately I can’t fix my diabetes, there’s no cure. I can’t get rid of it.

A realisation struck me at that point – as daunting as this was, it probably won’t be the last time I’d face a situation like this. So now what? 

I had to be resilient.

I had to do things differently.

Little tricks 

The reality is there’s not a great deal you can do. You can’t fix diabetes. 

So little changes could make a big difference. I decided to try something new.

Generally, I carry around lollies in a plastic Tupperware container in my bag, but opening and closing it can be noisy and awkward.

I wanted a solution that would be quiet, quick and non-distracting. But what? 

That night, I found myself rummaging in the cupboard and came across some packets of Mentos left over from my daughter’s Birthday party.

“Perfect”, I thought!

They were just the right size and because of the cylindrical packet, they fit nicely into my work folder, which has a hidden compartment where I could store them discreetly for easy access. 

I could also easily slip out a Mentos from the packet without making lots of noise or commotion.

Now I’m not affiliated with Mentos so I’m not trying to convince you to buy a particular lolly. I eat all kinds. The point is that finding the right product for your situation, can make a big difference.  

For me, this small change meant the difference between being too nervous to take action, versus having the confidence to take control of a situation.  

This experience enabled me to change my own perception of how I manage my diabetes and to build confidence and resilience.  

Now mentally and physically better equipped, I’m ready for my next diabetes challenge. Look out diabetes here I come!

(Read Nikki's blog here)

Can eating cold carbs improve your BGL?

Here's some interesting information from our friend Nikki (who manages her own T1 and is a dietitian):

Do you know that eating cold carbohydrates (carbs.) can improve your blood glucose management?

That’s right, eating your rice and pasta cold is the key!

Have you ever heard of a ‘resistant starch’? Neither had I until recently, but the benefits are amazing, particularly if you have diabetes. 

So, I’m spreading the word!  Keep reading. 

What is a resistant starch? 

It’s all about digestion. Where other types of starch are broken down in the small intestine, Resistant Starch passes through the small intestine intact and is digested/fermented in the large intestine.

So, it’s classified as a type of fibre which has a lower Glycaemic Index (GI) than other starches.

What are the benefits of eating resistant starch?

The bonus for people with diabetes is, resistant starch has been shown to help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control.

It’s also great for gut health, as the resistant starch is digested through fermentation, by good bacteria in the bowel (large intestine).  

(source: Nutrition Australia The Healthy Grain and the British Nutrition Foundation ). 

Examples of resistant starch

Resistant starch is found in under-cooked pasta, under-ripe bananas, pulses, seeds and cooked and then cooled potato and rice. 

Yes that’s right, cold rice and pasta. It’s all in the way the food is cooked that makes it a resistant starch. Rice and pasta that is cooked and then allowed to cool before being eaten, has a lower GI – Cold Rice

Want to find out more? Keep reading as Kathy Usic, CEO of the Glycaemic Foundation, shares her insights on the benefit of eating cold carbs! 

Q: Is it true that the way food is cooked can alter its GI?

A: “Foods and drinks provide fuel for our body in the form of carbohydrates, fat, protein and alcohol. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source.

“The glycaemic index (GI) is a way to classify foods and drinks according to how quickly they raise the glucose level of the blood. Factors such as the size, texture, viscosity (internal friction or ‘thickness’) and ripeness of a food affect its GI. For instance, an unripe banana may have a GI of 30, while a ripe banana has a GI of 51. Both ripe and unripe bananas have a low GI.

“Fat, protein, soluble fibre, fructose (a carbohydrate found in fruit) and lactose (the carbohydrate in milk) also generally lower a food’s glycaemic response. Fat and acid foods (like vinegar, lemon juice or acidic fruit) slow the rate at which the stomach empties and slow the rate of digestion, resulting in a lower GI. The carbohydrate food is more slowly converted to glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream.

“As well, fermenting foods or the sourdough method of baking bread also lower the GI. Other factors present in food, such as phytates found in wholegrain breads and cereals, may also delay a food’s absorption and therefore lower the GI.

“Cooking and processing can also affect the GI. Food that is broken down into fine or smaller particles will be more easily absorbed and so has a higher GI. Foods that have been cooked and allowed to cool (potatoes, for example) can have a lower GI when eaten cold than when hot.” 

Q: Is it true that starchy carbohydrates such as rice and pasta, when eaten cold, have a lower GI and can have a lesser impact on BGL than when eaten hot?

A: “Correct.  For example pasta has a glycaemic index value of 40-50. This can be further reduced by cooking it less (al dente). This is because al dente pasta resists the effect of digestive enzymes and has a lower GI.  

“However, cooking pasta for longer accelerates starch gelatinisation, increasing the GI. The same principle applies to rice when cooked and cooled the starch ‘retrogrades’ becoming more resistant to digestion and therefore lowering the GI.”

Read more here.

Deciphering food labels for diabetes

Today we share another post from one of our favourite bloggers Nikki Wallis.

Deciphering food labels, counting carbs, counting sugar and regulating insulin to suit my blood sugar levels is a full-time job and one that I thought I was doing alright at, until recently, when I walked into my local health food store.

There I was, browsing the nutritional label of one product from the shelf, when I struck up a conversation with one of the attendants and she made a comment that threw me.

“You have to count the sugar content because you’re diabetic,” she said.

I automatically replied, “No, I count the total carbohydrate, I don’t just focus on the sugar.”

But then I had to stop and think for an minute. Was that right, or have I been doing it wrong all these years? The thought left me puzzled and I went home pondering this some more.

On the hunt for an answer, I contacted one of my former colleague nutritionist and diabetes project officer, Karis Ramsay, to see if she could shed some light on this for me. Low and behold she could and referred me to several sites. I found the information really useful, hence this post.

Read the rest of Nikki's post here.

Diabetic friendly pear raspberry loaf

This week we share a recipe from one of favourite bloggers, Nikki Wallis of T1 Friendly Foodie. Nikki writes:

This recipe has become one of my favourites and between me, my husband and my kids (who mind you don’t have diabetes), it doesn’t last long, because everyone loves it!

The texture and flavour of this cake is hard to describe, other than to say it is literally like Spring on a plate. I call it my Spring Cake.

The lemon zest, fresh raspberries and coconut, give this cake an amazing burst of flavour!

And raspberries are such a great fruit if you have diabetes.

At only about 12g of carbs per 100g, raspberries are a really great way to enjoy fruit without the need to load up on lots of insulin. Raspberries, like most other berries, also have a low Glycemic Index, at only 26.

A Glycemic Index is the rating given to foods according to their carbohydrate and impact on Blood Glucose Levels (BGL). Low GI foods are rated at 55 or lower. High GI foods are rated at 70 or higher.

Click here to read the recipe.


How many carbs per day is right for me?

This week we share a blog post from Nikki Wallis. Nikki manages her own T1 diabetes and is passionate diabetes advocate and blogs about latest news, recipes and updates. Here she talks about carbs and carb counting (and remember, everyone is different and has different requirements).

Her latest blog post says:

Do you get confused by all the information out there about diets for people with diabetes? Do you find yourself struggling to know how many carbs to eat per day, or struggling to balance your insulin and Blood Glucose Levels (BGL)?

I think we can all agree that no one person with diabetes is the same and that we all eat different foods, live different lifestyles and need tailored care to suit our individual needs.

This is quite a controversial issue, particularly when it comes to the eating plans of people with diabetes, especially when it comes to the issue of carbohydrates.

The current dietary guideline recommends eating about 230-310g of carbs per day (this guideline is not specific to people with diabetes). For me, this is far too much and I tend to eat about 105g-120g or 7-8 portions of carbs per day.

Other people recommend eating very low carb diets at around 30-50g of carbs per day (around 2 portions), with some research done into the benefits and risks of low carb eating for people with type 1 diabetes.

For me, 30-50g of carbs a day is far too low, but again, that’s just me.

So there is a lot of debate out there around how much carbohydrate people should eat, let alone how much you should eat if you have diabetes.

The issue of low carb diets, particularly for people with type 1 diabetes, is a really heated topic. There is a lot of research out there supporting the benefits of low carb diets for people with type 2 diabetes, but there just isn’t enough evidence about type 1 diabetes.

Personally, I had no idea this was such a contested issue until recently. For me, I adopted a lower carb approach to eating when I was in my teens. I had put on unwanted weight after following the recommended daily intake of carbs when I was first diagnosed with diabetes and I felt like I was constantly force-feeding myself when I just wasn’t hungry.

You may recall my earlier post, Low Carb Diets for People with t1 Diabetes.  In this post I share my experience in changing to a lower carb eating.

So what’s solution? There needs to be a common sense approach to diet and diabetes.

Diet should not be a one-size fits all. Insulin dosage is not a one-size fits so why are we taking this approach with diet? Carb intake should be as much a tailored approach as insulin dosage.

People with diabetes are not numbers, we are real people, with changing needs and differing lifestyles. So guidelines need to reflect this.

Someone who has a very sedentary lifestyle of course requires less carbs than an athlete or a very active person.

But it’s not all bad news. Diabetes Australia (DA) recently made a groundbreaking change – they released a position statement on Low Carb Eating for People With Diabetes.

Hallelujah! Finally, a diabetes organisation has come out and supported the personal decisions of people with diabetes! Thank you DA!

They recognise that some people with type 1 diabetes are seeing a benefit in reducing their carbohydrate intake.

“People with type 1 diabetes may choose to follow a low carb eating approach and they should be supported in this,” (source: DA Spring Issue of Circle Magazine).

Finally, people with T1D won’t be made to feel like they are doing the ‘wrong’ thing, by not following the current dietary guidelines… which let’s face it are out-dated even for the average person without diabetes.

DA has taken a step in the right direction to recognise the need for flexibility and a move away from rigid and prescriptive eating plans. Everyone is different.

There is still a long way to go in the diabetes diet debate. Current dietary guidelines should be updated.

In the meantime, thank you DA for being progressive and helping to support and empower people with diabetes. This position statement is a step in the right direction.

To find out more, download a copy of the position statement by clicking HERE.

Diabetic Friendly Date Cake

Fancy something a little sweet and tasty? This week we're sharing one of our favourite blogs from Nikki at t1FriendlyFoodie. Date Cake!

Prep Time 25 minutes
 Cook Time 55 minutes
 Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
 Author Nikki Wallis


  • 50 g Lupin flour
  • 150 g Almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Mixed spice
  • 50 g Pecan nuts
  • 100 g Dates
  • 2 Eggs (Large 800g)
  • 1 tsp 100% Pure unsweetened vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Hot water (used to soak the dates)
  • 3/4 cup Full cream milk
  • 1/8 tsp 100% pure Stevia extract powder
  • 85 g Light cream cheese

For the vanilla batter: 100g almond meal, 1 tsp baking powder, 1-8 tsp 100% pure Stevia extract powder, 1 egg, 1/4 cup full cream milk, 1/2 tsp 100% pure unsweetened vanilla extract.

    For the icing: 50g dates, 85g light cream cheese, 1/8 cup hot water, 1/4 tsp mixed spice.


      1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a small square baking tin (15cm x 15cm) with baking paper (bottom and sides). 

      2. Remove seeds from dates (if they aren't already de-seeded). Place dates into a small bowl and soak in boiling hot water (enough to cover them) for approximately 15-20 minutes. 

      3. To make the date batter, add 100g of the dates (approximately five large dates), from the bowl into a blender or food processor. Add 3/4 cup of milk and blend until the dates are smooth (you can leave some chunks in).  

      4. Add the blended dates and milk to a mixing bowl. Add the other wet ingredients including egg and vanilla and mix well with a spoon. 

      5. In a separate bowl, add all the dry ingredients including the lupin flour and almond meal, Stevia, bicarbonate of soda, banking powder and mixed spice and stir together til well combined. 

      6. Roughly crush the pecan nuts and add them to the dry ingredients and mix well. 

      7. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix together until well combined. Leave aside while you prepare the vanilla batter. 

      8. To make the vanilla batter, combine the almond meal, baking powder, Stevia, egg vanilla and milk together in a bowl and mix until well combined. 

      9. To assemble the cake, pour half of the date batter into the lined tin. Then on top of this, pour all of the vanilla batter. Lastly, pour the remaining date batter on top and smooth out with a spatula. 

      10. Bake cake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for approximately 55 mins or until cooked (pierce the centre with a wooden skewer and it should come out clean). Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool. 

      11. To make the icing, remove the remaining soaked dates from the hot water and place in a small blender or food processor along with 1/8 cup of the water in which they were soaking (you can use the back of a fork to mash the dates if you prefer). Blend until the dates are smooth. 

      12. Add the pureed dates to a bowl, along with the cream cheese and mixed spice and stir until all ingredients are well combined. 

      13. Remove the cake from the cake tin and spoon over the icing on top of the cake, using the back of a knife or spatula. Smooth over so the cake is evenly covered. 

      14. Cut the cake into six even rectangular slices and serve. 

        Nutritional information for Date Cake

      What are low GI foods?

      This week we are looking at low GI foods - what are they and why are they important for helping to manage blood sugar levels. One of our favourite Diabetes Educators has written this helpful blog. Nikki Wallis says:

      Q. What is the difference between low GI and low carb?

      A. Low GI ‘diets’are more about the quality of the carbohydrate eaten, whereas low carb ‘diets’ are about the quantity of carbohydrates eaten.

      The glycemic index (or GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100, according to how much they raise blood sugar (glucose) levels after they’re eaten.

      High GI foods are quickly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause fluctuations in blood glucose levels.

      Low GI foods (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and therefore usually, lower insulin levels too.

      Low carb refers to the restriction of carbohydrates in the diet. There are three levels of low carbohydrate diet including very low, moderate and high carb. A very low carb diet has around ~50g or less of carbs per day and can lead to ketoacidosis.

      Australian dietary guidelines recommend that for adults, carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of our total energy intake, or 230g-310g of carbs per day.

      It’s important for anyone with t1d who is looking to start a low carb eating plan, to speak with their healthcare team.

      You can read the rest of this article here.

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