Diet and Diabetes
Just as for everyone else, eating well for people with
diabetes simply means having a healthy well balanced diet and being careful
about how much you eat and about your weight.
Why should I be thinking
about my diet?
Your diet is important in the care
of diabetes, helping strike a balance between what you eat, your
level of activity and your treatment. It helps with the control of
your blood sugar, with stopping hypos (low blood sugars) from happening,
with weight control, with blood pressure and with the prevention
of the possible complications of diabetes.
What simple steps can I take?
steps you can start to make towards a healthier diet are:
Eat regular meals and have breakfast, a
light meal and a main meal each day. You may need to include a between
meal and bedtime snack. Your specialist nurse or Dietitian will be
able to advise you. Do not miss meals and snacks.
Include a starchy
food at each meal such as bread, cereals, potato, rice, pasta, chapatti,
green banana, yam, sweet potato, boiled dumpling.
Avoid sugar, sugary
foods and drinks by choosing low sugar or sugar-free versions.
You do not need to worry about the small amount of sugar added to
foods such as baked beans, soups and small amounts to tomato ketchup
or pickle as this amount should not affect your diabetes control.
fat and fatty foods by using less fat in cooking. Cook fresh foods
as much as possible and grill, steam, boil or bake foods instead
of frying. Cut down on chips, pastries, ready meals, crisps and other
Eat more fruits and vegetables and other
high fibre foods including whole grain bread and cereals.
Can I eat all types of fruits and
Yes! Eat at least 5 portions a day. Fruit and vegetables
are healthy foods and you are encouraged to them. All vegetables can
be eaten including root vegetables like carrot, swede, turnip and parsnip.
Eat 3 portions of fruit each day and also 2 or more portions of vegetables
What is a portion of fruit or vegetable?
of portions are: 2 tablespoons or more vegetables; 1 dessert bowl of
salad, 1 medium sized fruit such as apple or banana.; 2 small fruits
such as satsumas or plums; 1 slice of a large fruit such as melon or
mango; a small handful of grapes; a cupful of berries such as strawberries;
1 dessertspoon dried fruit; you can include one small glass pure unsweetened
fruit juice once a day only with meals.
Should I buy diabetic foods?
Special diabetic foods are not recommended. They are expensive, high
in calories and will not help your diabetes. They can also give you stomach
cramps and diarrhoea. A small amount of sweet food on special occasion
will not be harmful to your diabetes if eaten with a meal.
What can I drink?
If you are
thirsty drink water or use low calorie, sugar free or diet varieties
of other drinks. Avoid sweetened fizzy drinks and squashes and don’t
take excessive amounts of fruit juice.
What about alcohol?
drink alcohol in moderation that is no more than 2 units a day for women
and 3 units a day for men. Never drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol is
also high in calories and can cause weight gain.
What if I am overweight?
is no need to go onto special diets or crash diets which can make the
rest of your diabetes care difficult. Don’t start missing
meals as a way of dieting. You should follow the general advice given
above. Reduce the overall amount of food you eat at each sitting,
change the balance of your food away from fatty foods to healthier
food, and take healthy snacks if needed. Remember that increasing your
physical activity, together with a change in your diet, will also help.
Seeking advice and what care to
When diagnosed, your diet should be talked over with you,
and you should get advice to help you to know exactly what to do. You
should have more advice and help if and when your treatment changes
or if you have problems with blood sugar control, hypos, weight control
or blood pressure.
Your diet advice should always fit in with any religious
or cultural beliefs you have. Your health team will always discuss
diet with you if you have concerns and they will be happy to help
your partner, parent or family to come to a good understanding too. Changing
your diet in a way that suits your lifestyle can be difficult.
You can be referred to a dietitian if you need more help and information.
Diabetes UK proivde further information regarding diet and nutrition.
If you wish to visit these pages - click