Living with Diabetes

A Healthy Diet

Basic advice:

  • Plan your day
  • Eat regularly - breakfast lunch and evening meal. Do not miss meals.

Consider the following:

  • Do you need to improve your eating pattern?
  • When are you more active?
  • Do you need a bedtime snack?

The 'staple'

CartoonHave starchy foods at each meal - preferably rich in fibre. These should be the main part of each meal. They are ideal sources of energy for you.

Starchy foods are the most useful fuel:

  • Bread - multigrain, granary, wholemeal, even high fibre white bread
  • Potatoes - new with skins, jacket
  • Cereals - WeetabixR, Bran flakes, puffed wheat are all good choices. Porridge is especially good.
  • Pasta - try wholemeal pasta
  • Rice - 'easy cook' brown rice
  • Noodles
  • Couscous

Additional advice

  • Beans and pulses are especially useful in your diet - try them in Soups, making meat dishes go further. in curries and salads.
  • Avoid sugar, honey and sugary drinks. They will make your diabetes more difficult to control.
  • You may be surprised at how your tastes can change. If you need to sweeten, use artificial sweeteners such as SweetexR, CanderelR, or HermesetasR in powder or tablet form. Always add artificial sweetener at the end of cooking for the best taste. Do not use Sorbitol.
  • Use diet or low calorie fizzy drinks and sugar free or no added sugar squashes. Sugary drinks cause blood glucose levels to rise quickly.
  • Try reduced-sugar, low sugar and sugar free foods. e.g. sugar free jelly, reduced sugar milk puddings and whips, reduced sugar jam and tinned fruit in juice as they can help you reduce the overall sugar content of your diet.
  • Savoury foods e.g. tinned vegetables, baked beans, ketchups, sauces, ready  made meals and tinned soups do not have a high sugar content.
  • Replace hot chocolate 'type' drinks with lower calorie drinks. e.g. Cocoa with sweetener, Options. Highlights or supermarkets own blend.
  • Do not use fruit juice to quench thirst
  • Diabetic foods are not recommended. Most are expensive, high in calories and fat. they can also cause diarrhoea.
  • Fat and fatty foods should be used sparingly
  • Eat Fruit as a snack, instead of high calorie snacks such as biscuits, sweet pastries, crisps and nuts.
  • Cut out fried food.
  • White fish are low in fat. Suitably cooked chicken and turkey are also low in fat especially without the skin.
  • Have smaller portions of lean meat, removing visible fat
  • Preferably use a spread that is low in saturated fat - use the least amount - scrape on scrape off!
  • Dairy products ie milk, yoghurt and cheese are an important part of a well balanced diet. Use lower fat varieties - skimmed or semi skimmed milk, low fat no added sugar yoghurt and remember to use cheese sparingly.
  • Cut down on fatty pastries, processed foods, Yorkshire puddingss and dumplings. Have casseroles and currys more frequently.
  • People with diabetes have a greater risk of heart disease. Having reduced fat intake is important to minimise that risk.
  • Avoiding fatty foods has the added benefit of successful weight control.
  • Plan to include oily fish in your diet at least twice a week. Fish oils are beneficial in preventing heart disease. Do include fish in your diet. Mackerel, Salmon, herring, sardines and pilchards are oily fish. These can be bought fresh or tinned (preferably in tomato sauce) For those who dislike oily fish, supplements containing omega 3 fatty acids (0.3-1 gram/day) are recommended.
  • Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, aiming for at least 5 portions spread through the day.
  • All fruit and vegetables are low in fat and calories and are a good source of vitamins and minerals
  • A portion of fruit is a piece of fruit such as an apple, banana or pear, a slice of large fruit such as melon, mango, pineapple, two small fruits (such as satsumas, apricots) a cupful of berries or grapes, three serving spoons of tinned or stewed fruit or a desert spoons of dried fruit.
  • A portion of vegetables is two or three tablespoons or a bowl of salad. Use a fat free salad dressing.
  • Replace your Yorkshire pudding and stuffing with an extra portion of vegetables.
  • Fruit is as good as a low calorie snack or pudding


Lynda Laughton
West Suffolk Hospitals Diabetes Service
October 2002