diet advocated for diabetics is not a 'special
diet'. It is a healthy diet which is recommended for
everyone. Everyone with diabetes has different
dietary requirements depending on age, weight,
activity. It is suggested that your GP refer you to
the state registered dietition at your local
hospital who will be able to give you more specific
A summary of dietary
recommendations made by the British Diabetic
Association is as follows:
Avoid being overweight. It is
more difficult to control diabetes if you are
Eat regular meals and a wide
variety of foods. It is important to eat regular
meals so that your blood glucose level does not
swing from one extreme to another. This is
particularly important if you are taking tablets
or insulin for your diabetes.
Eat high fibre carbohydrate
foods. e.g. brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholemeal
bread, oats, vegetables, fruit, beans and lentils.
This will help control your diabetes.
Reduce your intake of sugar and
sweet foods e.g. sweet cakes, chocolate and sugary
Reduce your intake of fried and
fatty foods, which are very high in calories.
Avoid special diabetic products
e.g. diabetic sweets, diabetic chocolate, diabetic
biscuits. These are not necessary, contain the
same amount of fat and are not signifcantly lower
in calories than their non-diabetic counterparts.
Use salt in moderation for good
following is a list of more detailed suggestions
with regard to day to day eating patterns.
Most people do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.
So make sure you eat enough to obtain fibre,
vitamins and minerals as well as maintaining a
healthy digestive system. There is no fibre in
animal products like meat, cheese and eggs. Fibre is
also removed from foods as they become more refined
so try to eat unrefined products such as wholegrain
bread, brown rice, etc. Don't just add bran to
refined foods because it does not contain the
wholegrain nutrients. Try to eat at least 3-4 pieces
of fruit per day. If you are eating tinned fruit buy
the ones in fruit juice rather than syrup. Sweeten
stewed fruit with artificial sweeteners. Eat small
amounts of dried fruit as it is a concentrated form
of sugar and it should be eaten in small amounts.
Grapes and mangoes are quite sweet and if you eat
them in large amounts this may affect your blood
basic foods themselves will mostly be those you have
always probably eaten. It may be that you have heard
that you should cut down on starchy carbohydrates
such as bread, pasta, potatoes and chapatis. This is
not true. It is the refined carbohydrate foods e.g.
sugary cakes that you should be careful about.
Starchy foods, often known as complex carbohydrates,
should form the basis of your meals. Eat these types
of foods at every meal and make it the main part of
the meal. Aim to eat the same amount of starchy
foods each day. Eat more potatoes (boiled and baked
rather than fried or roasted). Choose rice and pasta
for a change. There are many breakfast cereals to
Make use of pulses (beans, peas and lentils). Add
them to stews and casseroles. Vegans should ensure
eating low fat protein foods e.g. pulses (soya bean
products such as tofu are a good choice). Nuts are
nutritious but high in fat and therefore calories so
if eating nuts as part of a main meal do not use
them as snacks especially if you are overweight.
you need to use oil or fat, choose an unsaturated
one e.g. olive, rapeseed, sunflower or corn oil. Use
reduced fat spreads and non-hydrogenated reduced fat
margarines. Most saturated fats and hydrogenated
fats tend to raise the blood cholesterol level.
Saturated fats are usually found in animal foods
such as butter, lard, dripping, fatty meat and full
fat dairy products. Use less oil in recipes than
suggested. Where possible do not use oil for cooking
but cook by boiling, casseroling, baking, grilling,
steaming or microwaving. The British Diabetic
Association recommends making meat, fish and cheese
the smaller part of meals (which is easy for
vegans!) and filling up on starchy foods and
Do not panic about the added sugar in
savoury foods such as baked beans or tomato ketchup.
It will not be enough to affect your blood glucose
levels. Eating healthy regular meals will help to
stop you getting too hungry and resorting to sweet
foods. As long as your day-to-day eating patterns
are healthy and your blood glucose levels are good,
the occasional celebration meal or little bit of
chocolate cake will do no harm. If you are going to
eat something that is very sugary, then do so after
a meal. However, if you are overweight, the fewer
sweet cakes and biscuits you eat the better. Eat
reduced sugar or no added sugar jams and pure fruit
spreads. Use fresh fruit for
Drinking lots of fruit juice, even if unsweetened
may make your blood sugar level rise too high. If
you like juice, take it with a meal rather than on
its own. If drinking because you are very thirsty
then dilute it with water or better still drink the
water on its own. Drink at least 6-8 cups of fluid a
day. Avoid sugary drinks and use the sugar-free ones
where you can.. Alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia (low
blood sugar level). Drinking alcohol also makes it
harder to recognise a hypo and recover from it.