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Your guide to
Enjoy Food
There’s no such thing as
a ‘diabetic diet’. A healthy
balanced diet will help yo
and your family, eat well,
feel good and enjoy food.
Quiz: Food, drink and diabetes
Quiz answers
What is a healthy, balanced diet?
Eating well with diabetes
Carbohydrates and diabetes
Understanding food labels
How to eat well on a budget
Family cooking
Eating out with diabetes
Religious fasting
Alcohol and other drinks
What’s your healthy weight?
Cooking at home
The information provided in this guide is correct at the time of publication. It is not a
substitute for seeing a healthcare professional and is not intended to replace the advice
given by a healthcare professional. Products and services advertised in this guide are
not necessarily recommended by Diabetes UK. Although the utmost care is taken to
ensure products and services advertised are accurately represented, it is only possible
to thoroughly check specialist diabetes equipment. Please exercise your own discretion
about whether or not an item or service advertised is likely to help you personally and,
where appropriate, take professional advice from your medical advisor. Please note also
that prices are applicable only to British buyers and may vary for overseas purchases.
Paid adverts do not necessarily represent the views of Diabetes UK. Complaints
regarding advertised services or products should be addressed to: Creative Services,
Diabetes UK, 10 Parkway, London NW1 7AA. Diabetes UK policy statements are always
clearly identified as such.
(Clockwise from top left) Blueberry and lemon
cheesecake; Almond, apricot and pumpkin seed granola;
Cauliflower pizza; Roasted red peppers with feta cheese;
Cod with tomato sauce; Chicken in a pot – find these
recipes at www.diabetes.org.uk/recipes
© Diabetes UK 2015. A charity registered in England and Wales (no. 215199) and
in Scotland (no. SC039136). With thanks to all the contributors, advisors and volunteers
who helped with the production of this guide. Published November 2015.
Product code 9983EINT.
Editor: Anna Pattenden
Design: hrscreative.com, Sarah Barker
Food photography: Gareth Sambidge
Clinical advisors: Tracy Kelly, Douglas Twenefour
Contributors: Jean Elgie, Bernice de Braal, Lyndon Gee, Charlotte Reynell
Editorial: Nick Buglione, Sabeha Syed, Laura Walkinshaw
Dietitian: Zoe Harrison
Available from https://shop.diabetes.org.uk
to Enjoy Food
Enjoying what you eat is one of life’s
pleasures. But if you have Type 1,
Type 2 or any other type of diabetes,
or cook for someone who does, it can
be tricky at times.
Your Enjoy Food guide has been written
by Clinical Advisors at Diabetes UK using
current research evidence and will give you
the key information you need when making
choices about what to eat and drink. It’s full
of practical advice and tips for shopping,
cooking and eating, plus advice on budgeting
and meal planning.
There are also more recipes, simple swaps
and snack ideas on our website, go to
We have nearly 300 recipes in our recipe
finder, so there’s something for everyone.
Go to www.diabetes.org.uk/recipes
Every recipe has been nutritionally analysed
by a dietitian, so you know how many
carbohydrates (carbs), sugars, fats, salt and
calories each one contains.
If you have any questions, comments
or suggestions, email us at
[email protected]
You can also sign up to the Enjoy Food
monthly newsletter at www.diabetes.org.uk/
How much do you know about what to
eat and drink when you, or someone in
your family, has diabetes? Try our quiz
and find out.
Tick a box
1 You can’t eat fruit if
you have diabetes.
2 People with diabetes
have to follow a special
‘diabetic diet’.
3 Fat is fat: all the fats
we eat are the same.
4 People with Type 1
diabetes don’t have to
follow a healthy diet.
5 Everyone with diabetes
has to follow a low-carb diet.
6 People with diabetes can
drink alcohol.
7 If you have diabetes,
you must always have
regular snacks.
8 Fruit juices are good
for your diabetes.
9 Salt doesn’t affect
blood glucose levels,
so you don’t need
to cut down.
10 If you have diabetes,
all you need to do
is cut out sugar.
Turn to the next page for the answers.
Food, drink and diabetes
✘ 1 False Fruit contains fibre, which is good
for you, and also carbohydrates (carbs), which
can affect your blood glucose levels. However,
most fruits have a low to medium glycaemic
index (GI) and don’t raise your blood glucose
levels quickly (see page 16). So, if you eat fruit
throughout the day, rather than eating a huge
portion in one go, you can eat any fruit you
like. A portion of fruit is roughly what will
fit in the palm of your hand.
bacon, sausages and burgers, hard cheese, butter,
lard, ghee and coconut oil – so try and cut down on
these foods. Also try to avoid trans fats, which are
found in biscuits, cakes, pastries, hard margarines
and takeaways.
✘ 4 False It’s important that everyone eats a healthy
diet, whether or not you have diabetes. As well as
blood glucose control, living with Type 1 diabetes
often means managing your blood pressure, blood
fats (cholesterol) and weight, all of which benefit if
you eat a healthy, balanced diet.
✘ 2 False Foods labelled ‘diabetic’ or
‘suitable for diabetics’ are usually snacks and sweets
that are high in fats and calories. These don’t have
special benefits for people with diabetes and are
not recommended. They are often expensive and
may lead to a stomach upset if you eat too much.
There’s no need to follow a special diet if you have
diabetes. For people with Type 1 diabetes, the
priority is to carb count and match their insulin doses
to control blood glucose levels; for people with
Type 2 diabetes, losing any excess weight is an
effective way of managing blood glucose levels.
Everyone with diabetes is advised to also follow
a healthy, balanced diet
that’s low in salt, sugar
and saturated fat.
✘ 3 False All the fats we eat affect our weight in
the same way, but our overall health is affected in
different ways by the types of fat we eat: saturated
and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats that are
good for us include omega-3 oil, which is found in
oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, trout, herring
or salmon, and those found in avocados, nuts and
seeds, olive oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil and
vegetable-based spreads.
But too much saturated fat is not good for us.
Saturated fat is found in processed meats such as
✘ 5 False The amount of carbohydrates you eat has
an immediate effect on your blood glucose levels,
but although people with diabetes need to be aware
of the carbs in their food, not everyone has to follow
a low-carb diet.
For people with Type 2 diabetes, a low-carb diet
is only one of the diets they can follow; and there is
no strong evidence to suggest that a low-carb diet
is better than the other options in the long-term.
There is also no strong evidence to suggest that it
is safe or beneficial for people with Type 1 diabetes.
Foods that contain carbohydrates such as fruit and
vegetables, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds are
all good for your general health. If you’d like to try a
low-carb diet, speak to your diabetes team as you
may need to adjust your medication and test your
blood glucose more often.
✔ 6 True For people with diabetes the guidelines for
drinking alcohol are the same as for everyone else:
2–3 units a day for women and 3–4 units a day
for men (see pages 34–35). Drinking alcohol can
increase your risk of having a hypo, which applies
to people treated with insulin and/or certain Type 2
diabetes medications, such as sulphonylureas. It is
important to monitor your blood glucose levels, and
to avoid binge drinking and drinking on an empty
stomach. Reducing your alcohol intake can help
to manage your weight, blood pressure and blood
fats (cholesterol).
✘ 7 False You don’t need to eat regular snacks
between meals unless you’re at risk of having
a hypo – this applies to people treated with
insulin and/or certain Type 2 medications. (If your
medications are making you snack regularly to
prevent hypos, speak to your diabetes team.)
Regular snacks can make it difficult to maintain
a healthy weight (see page 36), so if you get
peckish between meals try healthy snacks
such as a piece of fruit, vegetable
sticks, unsalted nuts, rice cakes
or a small pot of yogurt. The key
is to plan ahead, and keep an eye
on your portion sizes.
✘ 10 False Eating well to manage diabetes
isn’t all about cutting out sugar. It’s
about achieving a good balance
in your diet, so you get all the
essential nutrients while still
enjoying your food. However,
free (added) sugar, found in fizzy drinks, cakes and
biscuits, is not essential so cutting these out will help
with your weight and general health. You don’t need
to cut out the sugar from whole fruit, vegetables
and milk because they are healthy foods and
your body processes these sugars in a different
way to free sugar.
✘ 8 False Although whole fruits are good for
people with diabetes, fruit juices contain less
fibre and count as having free sugar (added sugar),
so try to avoid them. One small glass counts
as only one portion of your five a day no matter
how much you drink. It’s easy to drink a lot in a short
time, and this may raise your blood glucose levels,
which isn’t good for your diabetes. In the
long term, drinking too much fruit juice can also
affect your weight.
✘ 9 False Although salt doesn’t affect your blood
glucose levels, eating too much can raise your
blood pressure. This, in turn, increases your risk
of long-term diabetes complications, such as heart
disease and stroke. Over 75 per cent of the salt
we eat comes from processed foods such as
bacon, sausages, cheese and takeaways. So,
read food labels (see pages 18–19) and choose
lower-salt options. When cooking, add herbs
and spices instead of salt.
Did you know?
Added sugar is now known as ‘free’ sugar and
refers to any sugar that is added by you, or a food
manufacturer, to food and drink. It also includes
those sugars that occur naturally in fruit juices,
syrups and honey. It does not include the sugars
naturally present in whole fruit and vegetables or
dairy products. We’ve used the term free sugar
throughout the guide.
A Balanced
Find this recipe for
Crisp salmon salad
at www.diabetes.org.uk/recipes
What is a healthy, balanced diet?
If you think that healthy eating
must be complicated and
boring, think again. As well
as managing diabetes, the
foods you choose to eat make
a real difference to how well
you feel and how much energy
you have each day.
How much you need to eat and
drink is based on, among other
factors, your age, gender and
how active you are. For example,
teenagers tend to have a big
appetite – this is because they’re
growing and need more nutrients
and calories a day than an adult
with a sedentary office job.
A healthy, balanced diet involves
eating a variety of foods from each
of the main food groups, which
we look at here, as no single food
contains all the essential nutrients
you need.
Fruit and vegetables are
generally lower in fat and
calories – and give you vitamins,
minerals and fibre. Research
suggests that a healthy,
balanced diet that includes a
variety of fruit and vegetables
can help protect you and your
family against stroke, high
blood pressure, heart disease
and certain cancers.
How often?
Everyone should eat at least
five portions a day. A portion
is roughly what fits in the palm
of your hand:
• a handful of grapes
• a medium-sized apple,
pear or banana
• 3 tbsp of vegetables
• 1 tbsp of dried fruits.
Do you
Fresh, frozen, dried and canned
fruit in juice and canned
vegetables in water all count.
Go for a rainbow of colours to
get as wide a range of vitamins
and minerals as possible.
• adding an apple, banana,
pear or orange to your
child’s lunchbox
• sliced melon or grapefruit
topped with low-fat yogurt
for breakfast
• carrots, peas and green
beans mixed up in a
pasta bake
• including an extra handful
of vegetables to your dishes
when cooking – peas to rice,
spinach to lamb or onions
to chicken.
Portion size
Portion sizes have grown in recent years, as the plates and bowls we
use have got bigger. Using smaller crockery will make the food on
your plate look more substantial and help you cut your portion sizes.
Potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, chapattis, naan and
plantain all contain carbohydrate (carbs), which is
broken down into glucose and used by your cells
as fuel.
Better choices of starchy foods include wholegrain
bread, wholewheat pasta and basmati, brown
or wild rice. These contain more fibre, which helps
to keep your digestive system working well. The
carbs in these foods are more slowly absorbed
(that is, they have a lower glycaemic index, or
GI), so do not affect your blood glucose levels as
quickly as carbs from refined foods. But watch your
portions because all carbs affect blood glucose,
so the more you eat the higher the rise in blood
glucose levels (see page16, for more on Gl).
How often?
Have some starchy foods, including at least
three servings of wholegrain, every day.
A serving includes:
• 25g porridge oats
• 1 bowl (34g) muesli
• 1 bowl (30g) toasted wholegrain
oat cereal
• 23g (uncooked weight) brown rice
or wholemeal pasta
• 1 bowl of wholewheat breakfast cereal
• 1 slice (40g) multigrain bread.
These foods are high in protein, which we need
for building and replacing muscles. They also
contain minerals, such as iron, which is vital for
producing red blood cells. Oily fish, including
mackerel, salmon and sardines, also provide
omega-3, which can help protect the heart.
Beans, pulses, nuts, soya and tofu are also
good sources of protein.
How often?
Aim to have some food from this group every
day, with at least 1–2 portions of oily fish a week.
A portion of fish is about a small tin, or 140g
when cooked.
• serving lean meat, poultry or a vegetarian
alternative grilled, roasted or stir-fried
• a small handful of unsalted nuts and seeds as
a snack or chopped with a green salad
• using beans and pulses in a casserole, stew
or soup to replace some – or all – of the meat
• fish pie, or making your own fish cakes
• eggs scrambled, poached, dry fried or boiled
– the choice is yours!
• tinned fish, such as mackerel or sardines,
in sandwiches. Choose fish tinned in water
or tomato sauce rather than brine as this
is high in salt
• adding a tuna steak to salads.
Milk, cheese and yogurt are an excellent source
of calcium, which is vital for everyone, especially
growing children as it keeps their bones and teeth
strong. Dairy foods also contain protein; choose
lower-fat versions like semi-skimmed milk and
low-fat yogurt to help with weight loss and reducing
your saturated fats. However, children under the
age of 2 need whole milk because they may not
get the calories or essential vitamins they need from
lower-fat milks; for the same reason don’t give
children under 5 skimmed milk. This group does
not include butter, cream or eggs.
How often?
Aim to have some dairy every day. Three portions a
day can help you towards the calcium you need.
• 200ml ( 1/3 pint) semi-skimmed or skimmed
milk on a bowl of cereal
• a small pot (150g) low-fat yogurt as a
mid-afternoon snack, but check the labels as
some are high in free sugar
• 2 tbsp cottage cheese scooped on carrot sticks
• 200ml ( 1/3 pint) unsweetened soya milk fortified
with calcium and vitamin D
• one pot (150g) plain yogurt or fromage frais as
an alternative to cream.
You can enjoy food from this group as an
occasional treat in a balanced diet, but remember
that these foods will add extra calories – and some
raise blood glucose – so it is better to keep them
to a minimum.
Sugary drinks, such as ordinary fizzy drinks, are
full of free (added) sugar and nothing else. They
only add extra pounds to your weight and raise
your blood glucose levels, which increases your
risk of cardio vascular disease and stroke, so it’s
better to avoid them. Choose water, unsweetened
tea or coffee, no added sugar squash, or diet
drinks instead.
Fat is high in calories, so try to reduce the
amount of oil or butter you use in cooking, and
remember to use unsaturated oils, such as
rapeseed, olive and sunflower oil, as they’re better
for your heart health.
How often?
It’s best to limit these foods, especially if you are
managing your weight.
Did you know?
Artificial sweeteners approved in the UK
have been rigorously tested and are certified
as safe. Try using them instead of sugar,
especially if you’re watching your weight
and/or blood glucose levels. Speak to your
diabetes healthcare team if you have any
questions or concerns.
Eating well with diabetes
Space your meals evenly
throughout the day, and make sure
everyone has breakfast. Eating
regular meals and avoiding long
gaps between meals helps to give
your body the energy and nutrients
it needs. It also means you avoid
extreme hunger, which can lead
to overeating.
Include some carbohydrates
(carbs) each day. Choose
healthier sources such as fruit and
vegetables, pulses, wholegrain
starchy foods and some dairy
foods. All carbohydrates will raise
blood glucose levels, so keep an
eye on the amounts you eat if
you have diabetes.
There are many types of
diabetes. The two most
common are Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes develops when
your pancreas can’t make any
insulin. Insulin is the hormone
that moves glucose from your
blood to your body’s cells,
where it’s used for energy.
Type 2 diabetes develops if your
pancreas can’t make enough
insulin or the insulin it makes
doesn’t work properly.
If you, or a member of your
family, has diabetes, eating well
and staying healthy can make
a big difference – whichever type
of diabetes you have. Eating
healthily can help you to manage
your blood glucose, blood pressure
and cholesterol levels, and your
weight – and reduce your risk of
diabetes complications in the future.
Now you know what the main food
groups are, follow these tips to put
your knowledge into practice.
Everyone needs some fat as part
of a healthy, balanced diet but cut
back on saturated fats, which are
found in animal products like butter
and cheese, red and processed
meats, and cakes and pastries.
Eating too much saturated fat can
raise your cholesterol levels.
Aim for at least five portions of fruit
and veg a day, so that you and your
family get the range of vitamins,
minerals and fibre you need. Buy
fruit and veg when it’s in season
– it’s cheaper. Also, don’t forget
frozen or tinned versions, in juice
not syrup, are equally as good.
miss ou
Meat-free Mondays are popular –
and a few meat-free meals a week
can be a good thing. Not only
will this help cut food bills, but
you can also replace meat with
beans, lentils and pulses, which
are low in fat and high in fibre.
They may also help to control blood
glucose and cholesterol.
All types of fish are good sources
of protein, and oily fish is particularly
good, as it’s rich in omega-3,
which protects against heart
disease. Fresh, frozen or canned
are all good – choose canned fish
in spring water or tomato sauce
and avoid brine as it’s full of salt.
Avoid fried fish, or, if you do have it,
don’t eat the batter.
Too much salt can raise blood
pressure, increasing the risk of
stroke and heart disease. Adults
should have no more than 1 tsp
(6g) salt a day, while children
have even lower targets. Processed
foods can be high in salt – read
the food labels (see pages 18–20).
Choose lower-salt options
wherever possible and try cooking
more meals from scratch at home,
to control your salt intake (see
page 27).
Cut down by removing the salt
cellar from the table, but keep the
black pepper. Season food with
herbs and spices, instead of salt.
Try ginger, lime and coriander in
stir-fries, or use spicy harissa
paste to flavour soups, pasta
dishes and couscous.
Free sugar is found in cakes,
biscuits, chocolate, sugary drinks
and fruit juices. It’s best to avoid
these or just have them as an
occasional treat. If you have
diabetes, or are just watching your
weight, these foods do not help.
So use less and try to find
alternatives, such as adding artificial
sweeteners to food and drinks
at home. Remember that many
processed foods contain free
sugar, so read labels to help you
choose lower-sugar or diet options
of drinks (see pages 18–20).
Be aware of your overall portion
sizes. If you’re trying to lose weight,
you may need to adjust them.
• As portion sizes have grown,
so have the sizes of our
plates and bowls. Try using
smaller-sized crockery to cut
back on the amount you dish
up, while making it look like
there’s more on your plate.
• For main meals, dish up your
vegetables or salad first so
they fill up your plate.
• Separate the different foods
on your plate rather than piling
them on top of each other.
Resist the temptation to have
a second helping. Try having a
glass of water first.
Foods labelled as ‘diabetic’ don’t
offer any special health benefits
to people with diabetes and may
still affect blood glucose levels.
They’re expensive and contain just
as much fat and as many calories
as ordinary versions, and can also
have a laxative effect. If you want
to have an occasional treat, stick to
your usual favourite and watch the
amount you eat.
Include more fruit and veg,
pulses, wholegrains, fish,
some dairy, and unsalted
nuts and seeds. Use
unsaturated fats such as
olive and rapeseed oils and
spreads. Cut out sugary
drinks and reduce your
intake of cakes, biscuits,
butter and cheese, red and
processed meat, and refined
carbohydrates such as
white bread.
Need recipe inspiration?
For healthy dishes you can
cook at home, go to
Carbohydrates and diabetes
Aim to get most of
your carbohydrates
from vegetables, fruit,
wholegrains, pulses and
dairy products
Carbohydrates (carbs) are
our main source of glucose
for energy. Foods that contain
carbs also provide important
nutrients for good health. All
the carbs we eat and drink
are broken down into glucose,
which helps our brain (and
nervous system) to function
properly. Our blood glucose
levels are most affected by
the amount and type of carbs
we eat. That is why you need
to be aware of the sources
of carbs in your diet and to
keep an eye on the amounts
you eat, if you have diabetes.
Carbohydrates can be grouped
in different ways. One way is into
starchy and sugary carbohydrates.
Starchy: these include bread,
pasta, potatoes, breakfast cereals
and couscous.
Sugary: these can be divided
into naturally occurring and
free (or added) sugars.
Naturally occurring sugar is found
in whole fruits (called fructose)
and in some dairy foods (called
lactose). Even though fruit juice
contains natural sugar (fructose),
it still counts towards your free
(added) sugar. Eating the whole
fruit is better for you than drinking
the juice.
Free sugar is found in sweets,
chocolate, sugary drinks and
desserts. Many people are
consuming more free sugar
than recommended. It’s easy to
consume more than you realise,
Feel th
energy e
so be mindful of what you’re eating
and drinking.
Fibre: this is a type of
carbohydrate that you can’t digest.
Insoluble fibre, found in foods such
as wholemeal bread, brown rice,
potatoes (particularly the skin)
and wholegrain cereals, helps
keep the digestive system healthy.
Soluble fibre, from bananas, apples,
carrots, beans, lentils and oats,
helps to keep your blood glucose
levels and cholesterol under control.
Make sure you eat both types
of fibre regularly. Good sources
include fruit and veg, nuts and
seeds, oats, wholegrain breads
and cereals, and pulses – these
foods have a good combination of
the two types of fibre. They also
help you feel fuller for longer, which
means you’re less likely to snack.
If you eat a lot of high-fibre foods,
make sure you increase your intake
of fluids, preferably water.
Everyone needs to include some
carbohydrate in their diet, and it
is better to do this every day.
The actual amount you need to
eat depends on your age, activity
levels and the goals you – and
your family – are trying to achieve,
for example trying to lose weight,
or improving blood glucose
levels. Your dietitian can work
with you to tailor an eating plan
specifically for you.
Remember, the total amount
of carbohydrate you eat will have
the biggest effect on your glucose
levels. Speak to your dietitian
about your goals – depending
on what they are, you may be
advised to:
• reduce the amount of carbs
you eat
• change to better sources
of carb
• spread your intake of carbs
better throughout the day.
This is an autoimmune
disease, more common in
people with Type 1 diabetes,
where the body reacts to
gluten (a protein found in
wheat, barley and rye),
which damages the gut
lining and makes it difficult
to absorb food.
Everyone with Type 1
diabetes should be
assessed for coeliac
disease. If you’re showing
symptoms, you should be
given a blood test. If the
test is positive, diagnosis is
confirmed by a gut biopsy.
Don’t start a gluten-free
diet until you have a definite
diagnosis, as this may give
an inaccurate result.
The only treatment
is to cut out gluten
permanently from your diet.
If you have coeliac disease,
a specialist dietitian can
help you with both diabetes
and coeliac disease.
If you use insulin, you need to
be aware of the amount of carbs
you eat at mealtimes. People
with Type 1 diabetes on multiple
daily insulin injections or pumps
can match their mealtime insulin
doses with the amount of carbs
they eat, giving them flexibility.
This is called carb counting.
For those on fixed insulin
regimens, eating consistent
amounts of carbohydrate on
a day-to-day basis is also
effective in managing the
condition. For those with Type 2
diabetes, reducing the amount
of carbohydrates you eat can
help control your blood glucose
levels, especially if you have any
excess weight to lose.
Learn which foods contain
carbohydrates, how to estimate
carbohydrate portions and how
to monitor their effect on blood
glucose levels. There are special
free diabetes courses available,
such as:
• DAFNE, for people with Type 1
diabetes: learn how to match
your insulin dose with your
carb intake.
For more information go to
people with Type 2 diabetes:
learn how to be more carb aware
as part of the programme.
Your diabetes team can tell
you about courses available
in your area.
Carb counting
A good starting point is to
get the Diabetes UK e-book
Carbs Count: an introduction
to carbohydrate counting
and insulin dose adjustment –
download it free from
✔ Choose wholegrain
breads and cereals.
✔ Eat fruit whole, rather
than as a juice. Eating an
apple with the skin on, for
example, provides more
fibre than drinking
a glass of apple juice.
✔ Try quinoa and couscous
as an alternative to pasta
and potatoes for variety
in your diet.
For tasty meal ideas, turn to
pages 43–61 or search for
ideas at www.diabetes.org.
The glycaemic index (GI) tells
you whether a food raises blood
glucose levels quickly, moderately
or slowly. Different carbohydrates
are digested at different rates,
and the GI is a ranking of how
quickly each carbohydrate
containing food and drink makes
blood glucose levels rise after
eating them.
The GI rating is between 1 and
100, depending on how slowly
or quickly the food raises your
blood glucose levels. The lower
the number, the slower the carb is
digested and absorbed as glucose
in your bloodstream.
Generally, fruit and vegetables
have a low to medium GI rating.
They are digested slowly and can
help reduce fluctuations in your
blood glucose levels. Pulses like
beans and lentils, basmati rice
and wholegrains are nourishing
lower-GI foods.
Research has shown that
choosing these low-GI foods can
help manage long-term blood
glucose levels (HbA1c) in people
with diabetes, especially in Type
2 diabetes. These foods are also
better options for general health,
whether or not you have diabetes.
Not all low-GI foods are healthy
choices – chocolate, for example,
has a low GI because of its fat
content, which slows down the
absorption of carbohydrate.
Other factors that can affect
the GI rating include:
Cooking methods: frying,
boiling and baking can alter the GI
level. For example, the longer pasta
is cooked, the higher the GI. That’s
why it’s best to eat it al dente (firm
to the bite) or reheated.
Protein content: like fat,
protein slows down the absorption
of carbohydrates, so milk and dairy
products will have a low GI.
Ripeness of fruit and
vegetables: in general, the riper
the fruit and some vegetables,
the higher the GI.
Fibre: this acts as a physical
barrier that slows down the
absorption of carbohydrate, so
the more fibre in a food, the
slower it’s absorbed.
Eating to control your diabetes
isn’t just about GI ratings.
Think of the bigger picture and
choose foods low in saturated fat,
salt and sugar as part of a healthy,
balanced diet.
Understanding food labels
Example of
a new label
If you buy pre-packed foods
and drinks, understanding the
information on the labels can
help you make healthier choices.
Here’s what you need to know.
Labels on foods and drinks
give essential information, like the
ingredients in the product as well
as the nutrients (such as fats,
calories, sugars and salt) and how
much they contribute to what
you’re eating each day.
‘Back of pack’ labelling is
compulsory and gives detailed
information about the ingredients,
nutritional composition and
known allergens. The ingredients
are listed in order, starting with
the highest-quantity ingredient
first, down to the lowest-quantity
ingredient last. So if you see
sugar appear in the first three
ingredients, that food is likely
to be high in sugar.
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Each 254g pack contains:
The colour-coded labelling (like a
traffic light) on the front of the pack,
while still voluntary, has been around
for a while now. It’s an easy way to
check at a glance how healthy
a food or drink is, based on how
much fat, saturated fat, sugars and
salt it contains. These amounts are
colour coded to show whether a
particular nutrient is low (green),
medium (amber) or high (red).
Try to choose foods with
more greens and few ambers.
Limit foods with many reds; only
have these occasionally and in
smaller quantities. And, if the traffic
lights aren’t available, check the
‘per 100g’ column on the back of
pack nutritional label to compare
similar products.
In the
will help
Nutritional claims, such as fat
free or low fat, can be confusing.
Here’s the difference:
Fat free: has to have no fat,
but check the ingredients list for
free (added) sugar, which is often
used to replace the fat.
Sugar free: the product
doesn’t contain sugar. Check
the ingredients list to see what
the sugar has been replaced with.
No added sugar: although
no sugar is added, there may be
naturally occurring sugar in the food.
Low fat: the product has
3g or less of fat per 100g.
Low sugar: has less than
5g of sugar per 100g.
Reduced fat or sugar: contains
30 per cent less fat or sugar than
the standard version of the product.
This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s
healthy and in some cases the
reduced-fat version of, say, crisps
can contain the same amount of
calories and fat as the standard
version of another brand.
Read the labels
It’s important to check the
ingredients list or back
of pack label so you can
compare two products, like
for like, per 100g.
Follow these tips to become expert at understanding labels:
1 With colour-coded labels,
go for green most of the
time, amber occasionally
and only have red foods on
special occasions – and in
small portions.
2 All carbohydrates (carbs)
raise blood glucose levels.
Colour-coded labels
don’t include the amount
of carbs, so check the
label on the back for the
total carbohydrate, which
includes carbs from starchy
food as well as sugars.
3 The figures for sugars on
colour-coded labels are for
total sugars, and don’t tell
you how much of the sugar
pack counts as a portion
to avoid eating more
calories, fats, sugars and
salt than you need.
5 Check the fibre content
on the back-of-pack label.
If you’re deciding between
two similar products,
choose the one with
more fibre.
6 Check the manufacturer’s
definition of a portion size.
It may differ from yours
and could be smaller than
you’d like! However, if you’re
trying to lose weight or
maintain a healthy weight,
it’s a good idea to stick to
sensible portions.
comes from natural sources
(such as fruit or milk) and
how much is added (such as
sucrose or glucose). Check
the ingredients list – if syrup,
invert syrup, cane sugar,
molasses or anything ending
in ‘ose’ is one of the first
three ingredients, choose
a healthier alternative.
4 Reference intake (RI)
percentages are given per
portion, and indicate how
much the portion contributes
to the maximum amount
of calories, fat, saturated
fat, sugars and salt adults
should have every day.
Check how much of the
How to work out if a food is low, medium or high in fats, sugars and salt
All measures
per 100g
3g or less
>3g – ≤17.5g
More than 17.5g or >21g/portion
Saturated fat
1.5g or less
>1.5g – ≤5g
More than 5g or >6g/portion
5g or less
>5g – ≤22.5g
More than 22.5g or >27g/portion
0.3g or less
>0.3g – ≤1.5g
More than 1.5g or >1.8g/portion
Note: portion size criteria apply to portions/serving sizes greater than 100g.
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How to eat well on a budget
When money’s tight, it can seem
hard to think of ways to trim
your food bill and still provide
healthy meals for the family.
But it is possible – here’s how.
Write a menu plan for the week
ahead, including breakfast, lunch
and dinner. If planning seven
days seems too daunting, do one
that covers Monday to Friday and
be flexible at weekends. Get the
whole family involved and make
sure their favourite (healthy) meals
are included.
Shop for more fruit, vegetables,
wholegrains and pulses. Then add
other protein – such as chicken,
fish or tofu – and dairy. Beans and
pulses are an excellent and cheap
way to make meals go further. Add
them to lean mince for bolognese
or to chicken for curry. Don’t forget
your spices.
Write down the meals for the week
on a meal planner (download one
from our website at www.diabetes.
org.uk/meal-planning) and stick
it to your fridge, or somewhere the
whole family can see it, to remind
you what you’re eating that week.
The shopping list is your most
important tool when sticking to a
budget. If you know what you need
before you head to the shops,
you’re less likely to buy extra food.
Try not to go shopping when
you’re hungry, as you may choose
unhealthier foods. Use your menu
plan to create a shopping list for the
week, then check what you have
already in the store cupboard (see
page 25), in the fridge that needs
using up and in the freezer. Check
use-by and best-before dates.
• Use-by dates mean the food
must be eaten by that date for
food safety.
• Best-before dates simply mean
the food may not be quite as
flavourful after that date. This
applies to many canned foods
and dried ones, such as pasta,
so use them up before
you buy more.
The shopping trip
If you prefer to do a weekly shop, the golden rule
is never do it if you’re hungry or you could end up
with high-fat, high-sugar foods in the trolley. If you
stick to your list, you’ll stick to your budget.
✔ Seasonal fruit and vegetables
are usually cheaper
✔ Frozen fruit and vegetables are
often cheaper than fresh ones
– and just as good. Canned
varieties are good, too – look for
veg in water with no added salt,
or fruit in juice rather than syrup
✔ Avoid fruit juices and
smoothies – or if you do buy
them, keep the amount you
drink to a minimum. They’re
not good for your blood
glucose levels or waistline,
and don’t contain as much
fibre as the whole fruit
✔ Keep an eye on
✔ Choose own-brand
versions of staples such
as cereals and pasta
BOGOFs (buy one
get one free), as
you might end up
buying more than
you need
✔ It can be cheaper to buy some
✔ Try cheaper cuts of meat,
such as shin of beef for stews
instead of stewing steak, and
pollock or flounder instead of
cod or haddock
foods whole, such as a chicken,
fruit, vegetables or cheese rather
than chopped or prepared
Spending an hour or two in the
kitchen at the weekend can pay
dividends during the week.
For example, cook a batch of
lean mince (or Quorn™), making
it go even further by adding
beans or pulses, then create a
shepherd’s pie for Sunday dinner
and freeze the rest in two portions
for lasagne and chilli con carne
later in the week.
Cooking more than you need
for one meal is also a great way
to use leftovers for lunch the
following day. When you reheat
food, make sure it’s piping hot all
the way through before you eat it –
and only ever reheat food once.
For more on food safety, go
to www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/
Try these other tips
✔ Use leftover chicken from a
roast to make a risotto for
the next day and use the
bones to make stock for
chicken broth.
✔ Blitz over-ripe tomatoes in
a blender and use in place
of canned tomatoes in pasta
sauce or on pizza bases.
✔ Wilting veg can be used to
make stock and then frozen.
✔ Make your own smoothie,
keeping an eye on portion
sizes, or make a compote
from over-ripe fruit – great
topped with yogurt for kids.
✔ Vegetables, such as
peppers, tomatoes and
courgettes that need using
up can be roasted in a little
olive oil and kept in the
fridge for 3–4 days.
If someone in your family isn’t keen on fruit or vegetables, here are
some tips to encourage them to eat more:
✔ Add sliced bananas or sultanas to breakfast cereal
or porridge.
✔ Add raisins or dried fruit to school lunchboxes.
✔ Provide two different coloured vegetables for supper,
such as broccoli and carrots or courgettes and squash.
✔ Add frozen or canned sweetcorn or peas (in water with
no added sugar) to a frittata or omelette.
We throw away millions
of tonnes of food a year,
some of which has never
been opened. That’s £700
for an average family with
children – or six meals a
week. According to the
Waste and Resources Action
Programme (WRAP), which
compiled the figures, top of
the waste list are potatoes,
bread, fruit and vegetables.
Keep your cupboard well stocked with some core ingredients and you’ll be able to whip up a meal
in no time.
Flour (plain and self-raising,
preferably wholemeal,
for baking)
Rice (choose basmati, wild
grain or easy-cook rice)
Wholewheat pasta
Reduced-salt soy sauce
Dried fruit (good for snacks
instead of crisps) – but don’t
overdo it if you’re trying to
lose weight or keep blood
glucose levels down
Cooking oil (choose
sunflower, olive or rapeseed
oil, and buy an oil sprayer
so you use less)
Canned fish (tuna, sardines,
mackerel – in water or
tomato sauce)
Dried herbs and spices
(such as black pepper,
oregano, thyme, basil,
fennel, cumin, cardamom
and cinnamon – instead
of salt)
Canned beans (baked
beans, butter beans,
cannellini and kidney beans)
Canned tomatoes
Stock cubes (choose
reduced-salt varieties)
Chilli powder
Family cooking
Now you’ve done the food
shopping, it’s time to start
cooking. The whole family can
play their part and, when the
meal is ready, you can all relax
together and enjoy it.
Cooking from scratch is good for
the family purse as well as helping
to make sure what you put on
the table is part of a healthy,
balanced diet. Cooking together as
a family helps to promote healthy
eating because if one of you is
trying to maintain or lose weight, it’s
often much easier to do it with the
whole family’s support.
Involving everyone in the
preparation and cooking helps
children to learn the skills to cook for
themselves when they’re older, and
also gives them an idea of where
different foods come from. Some
jobs need supervision, for example
when using knives, cooking on
the hob or using the oven. But,
even younger children can join in
spreading tomato sauce on pizza
bases and stirring pre-chopped
cucumber into yogurt as a dip.
Recipe makeover: you probably
have a few favourite family recipes
that could be healthier. Using the
tips on reducing fat, sugar
and salt (see box, right), encourage
older children to come up with a
healthier alternative. For example,
adding more vegetables to your
lasagne by using courgette
ribbons in place of pasta, making
a sauce with reduced-fat spread
and cheese, and adding plenty
of vegetables.
Weighing and measuring:
asking younger children to help
brings the maths they learn at
school to life at home.
Grow your own: even a
window box will do. Plant herbs,
cut-and-come-again salad leaves
and tomatoes in a grow bag.
Let the children gather what’s
needed for the day’s meal.
Bake and play: children can
stir the mix for fairy cakes, fruit
loaf or scones, then top them with
Greek yogurt sprinkled with raisins.
Marinades: cheaper cuts of
meat often need marinating, so get
younger children to help mix the
marinade ingredients.
Cook &
Part of eating healthily is cutting
down on the amount of sugar, saturated
fat and salt you eat. Try these tips:
✔ Use dried fruit to replace some of the
sugar when baking.
✔ Use artificial sweeteners to add
extra sweetness.
✔ When making jams and marmalades, try to
reduce the ratio to 1lb fruit to ½lb sugar.
Saturated fat
✔ Choose lean meat, poultry and fish.
Remove any visible fat and discard the
skin from poultry before cooking.
✔ Choose low-fat dairy products such as
semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, reduced-fat
cheeses and low-fat, unsweetened yogurts.
✔ Poach, steam, grill, boil or bake foods
rather than cooking with added fat. Use
1 Homemade pizza: use
ready-made wholemeal pizza
bases, or make your own,
then spread with tomato sauce,
top with grated reduced-fat
cheese, chicken pieces, and
a few basil leaves.
an oil sprayer and non-stick pans for
stir-fries; if food starts to stick, just add
a splash of water.
✔ Use pulses such as peas, beans or lentils
in soups and salads or to replace some of
the meat in casseroles and shepherd’s pie.
Not only will this make it go further, but
pulses are low in fat and high in fibre.
✔ Swap creamy sauces for tomato-based ones.
✔ Use light crème fraiche instead of cream.
✔ Measure the salt you use in cooking with a
teaspoon and use less as time goes on. Do it
gradually and the family will hardly notice!
✔ Experiment with flavouring food using
dried mixed herbs, fresh thyme, tarragon
or oregano, or spices such as chilli flakes,
cumin and black pepper, instead of salt.
2 Fruit compote: blend frozen
fruits of the forest, or another
berry mix, in the blender and
serve in bowls topped with
yogurt or light crème fraiche and
a few seeds. Just keep an eye
on the portion size.
3 Pasta bake: turn out the fridge
and see what can be used in
this classic use-up Friday dish.
Older children can trim off the
wilted parts of vegetables,
while younger ones can grate
the cheese.
Recipe ideas
For recipes you can
cook at home, go to
our recipe finder at
It can be hard to gather the family
together every day, so make a rule
that at least once a week you’ll all
enjoy a family meal. Turn off the
TV, tablets and mobiles and use
this time to catch up on each
other’s news.
There’s usually no need to
cook different meals for different
members of the family – but
remember that portion sizes differ
according to ages and whether any
adults are trying to lose weight.
So dish up more protein for active
teenagers and make sure there are
at least two different vegetables
on offer. And use smaller plates –
what looks small on a 12-inch
plate looks fine on an 8-inch one.
These tips may help before
you eat:
• have a glass of water before
your main meal
• fill your plate with vegetables,
then separate the different
foods on your plate rather
than piling them high
• resist the temptation to go
for a second helping.
Asim Rachid, Worceste
He and his daughter
have Type 1
“We mainly focus on grilled
– we often go for grilled ch
and some green vegetable
s, such
as broccoli, sprouts and pe
Chickpea curry is a big favou
at the moment with the littl
e ones,
and blueberries and strawbe
are very popular, too. Othe
r snacks
include spicy chickpeas an
d spicy
dhal (lentils), and raisins.
We do have a strategic ‘ch
eat’ day
in the week when we have
treats, but not too many!
Overall, we just vary our me
as much as possible.”
Cook &
Brighten up your meals with
colourful salads, vegetables or
fruit. Make a five-a-day chart
for each member of the family,
using coloured stickers for each
portion. Total it up at the end of
the week to see who’s won.
• Cooking together is another way
to help the family make healthier
choices. Involve children in
shopping and cooking so they
know what’s in their food. A lot
of grocery stores have a colourful
display of fruit and vegetables
and you could ask the children
to find firm tomatoes, shiny
aubergines and juicy pineapples.
• Read labels together so that
you all get used to comparing
different foods, helping you to
make healthier choices.
• Family fun can also be active
fun (see box, right). Taking part
in team sports, going on family
walks, dance classes and
swimming are great ways to
build relationships within the
family and encourage active
lifestyles from a young age.
Make this a part of family life
so you all exercise regularly –
cutting down on the amount
of time spent doing seated
activities, such as watching
TV or playing computer games.
Whether it’s a walk in the park or a game of rounders,
families who are active together have more fun! Try
these suggestions:
✔ Spend an afternoon picking your own fruit and veg at a local
farm – it’s a good way to be active and you’ll come back
with fresh healthy food you can turn into delicious meals for
everyone to enjoy.
✔ Join a fun run to raise funds for charity – even young children
can join in and walk.
✔ Get everyone a pedometer and see if you can all meet the
10,000 daily steps challenge.
✔ Got a dog? Get everyone to take it out on a family walk.
✔ Play football or pitch and putt in the park, or go swimming
at the local leisure centre.
Inspiring stories
Go to www.diabetes.org.uk/enjoyfood to read about how others
have made positive changes thanks to the Enjoy Food programme.
Eating out with diabetes
✔ Vegetable cruditiés and
Meals a higher in salt,
may often ar than those you
fat and su e, and the portion
make at h ay be bigger, too.
sizes m
Whether you grab lunch on
the go, enjoy a Friday night
takeaway or celebrate a special
occasion at a restaurant, it’s
great to eat a meal that you
haven’t cooked yourself – and
diabetes is no barrier to that.
The key is to think ahead and
be conscious of your choices
and portion sizes, while still
enjoying your meal. It’s OK to
have the occasional treat but it’s
important not to do this regularly,
especially if you’re trying to
manage your weight.
✔ In meal deals that include
fried crisps or sugary drinks,
choose healthier options like
fruit and bottled water.
✘ Watch those ‘super-sized’
triple-decker sandwiches –
they can contain as many
as 700kcal, which is around
a third of your recommended
daily intake.
✔ Choose filling and healthy
pre-packed salads with lean
protein, vegetables or pulses,
and seeds.
✔ Go for sandwiches made
with wholegrain bread or
wraps with chicken, turkey
or fish, and salad with low-fat
mayonnaise or yogurt dressing.
fruit can help you meet your
five-a-day target.
✔ Low-fat yogurts are a good
choice for kids, as they’re
an easy way to add bonestrengthening calcium.
✔ Go for oven-baked or lowerfat crisps, or even air-popped,
sugar- and salt-free popcorn.
✔ A handful of nuts, a packet
of raisins or dried fruit is a
great snack.
✔ Choose fruit loaf or tea cake
instead of ‘skinny’ muffins and
‘healthy’ cake bars, which can
pack in more calories than
a chocolate bar.
✘ Avoid fruit juices, juice drinks and
smoothies, which are often high
in calories, not to mention the
sugar, which counts towards free
(or added) sugar (see page 7).
Terry Schooli
ng, 75,
diagnosed w
ith Type 2
in 2010
“Don’t stop taki
ng the family
for meals at re
Just make sure
food is substitu
ted with
healthy food an
d bulk out
on vegetables.
A good
restaurant will
provide salads
and vegetable
s in place of a
Yorkshire pudd
ing or chips.”
Fish and chips: ask for grilled
fish without the batter, order a
smaller portion or remove the
batter. Go for thick-cut chips –
gram for gram, thick-cut chips
absorb less fat compared to the
same amount of thin-cut chips.
• Burger and chips: try the lean
or veggie option and leave out
the cheese and mayonnaise. Or,
go ‘bun-less’ to cut the calories
and order more salad – but
watch the dressing.
• Pizza: choose portion sizes
and toppings carefully. Pick
thin bases, choose an extra
vegetable (mushrooms or
peppers) instead of more cheese.
Having a side salad will help cut
back on fat and calories, too.
When you walk in, think about
where you sit. Try not to face the
kitchen so you aren’t tempted by
the colourful desserts and huge
plates of food being served.
• Ask for water as soon as you get
the menu. Being thirsty is often
confused with being hungry, so
having a drink may help to curb
your appetite.
• Choose from
the à la carte menu,
rather than the set
menu, so you can
pick and mix your courses.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for
something that’s not on the
menu – most places will do their
best to help.
Order first, so you’re less likely
to be influenced by what
everyone else is having.
• Try ordering the starters first
and the main course later.
After your starter, you may not
feel so hungry, and may prefer
a lighter main course.
• If you start with a sharing
platter, choose the healthier
items; alternatively opt for a
non-creamy soup. This can
help to fill you up – and taking
smaller spoonfuls will help you
eat more slowly.
• Eating slowly helps you to be
more in tune with your appetite.
Look on the menu for dishes
that are steamed or boiled rather
than fried, like steamed rice,
noodles with vegetables, grilled
meat and fish dishes.
If you order a side salad, ask
for the dressing to be served
separately. Most places are
happy to give you some fresh
lemon and cracked black pepper
for your salad.
Feel free to ask what’s in salads
before you order – they may
have added breaded chicken,
full-fat cheese, fried croutons
and rich creamy dressings.
Buffet-style salad bars can
help you make healthier
choices – just watch out for
creamy dressings and salads
coated in mayonnaise.
When you’ve made your
choice, put the menu down
so you’re less likely to order
anything else.
If you choose a dessert, keep an
eye on your portion size. It’s fine
to enjoy a sweet treat, but it’s
easy to eat too much.
• Try a scoop of ice cream, some
fresh fruit salad, a sorbet or
perhaps share some carrot cake.
• Use a teaspoon rather than
a dessert spoon and pace
yourself – smaller mouthfuls
mean fewer calories.
✔ Go for tandoori and tikka
options as these are baked
and lower in fat.
✔ Dhal is rich in fibre because of
the lentils and pulses, but can
still be quite oily. Try sharing
a portion.
✔ Choose boiled or steamed
rice rather than pilau or
fried rice.
✔ Choose chapatti rather than
naan bread.
✘ Watch out for the extras you
order, such as poppadoms
and naan breads.
✔ Go for broth-based
soups, rather than spring rolls
or satays.
✔ Choose steamed or fragrant
rice, or noodles.
✔ Stir-fried vegetables are a
filling and healthy side dish.
Whether it’s a wedding, dinner
or birthday party, food plays an
important part in celebrations.
If you’re hosting the occasion, you
can make sure there are plenty of
healthy options on the table for
both adults and children.
✔ Choose oven-baked crisps.
✔ Substitute mayonnaise with
low-fat yogurt in dressings.
✔ Serve plenty of crunchy
vegetables and an exotic
fruit salad.
✔ Cut smaller slices of birthday
cake (see page 61 for some
tasty swaps for birthday cakes).
✔ Pack kids’ party bags with a
small toy or a colouring book,
rather than sweets.
If there’s a buffet, look at everything
that’s on offer before you choose.
Then make one trip, filling your
plate with healthy options before
heading back for dessert. At a party
with only nibbles, make sure you
eat a small meal before you go so
you don’t arrive hungry and snack
all night.
When your child with diabetes is
invited to a friend’s house, make
sure that the parents know what
support your child needs, what to
do if they have a hypo and what
they can eat.
Carb-counting resource
If you’re confident with
counting carbs, either for
yourself or your child, and
adjusting the insulin dose,
it may be possible to change
the amount injected to fit
with the food eaten. To make
it easier to estimate the
amount of carbohydrate you
or your child are eating, try
the Carbs & Cals book (go
to shop.diabetes.org.uk/go/
Although eating out is a
change in your usual routine
and diet, it doesn’t need to
affect your diabetes control.
You can adjust the timing
and/or the amount of insulin
that you take. Talk to your
diabetes team about how
to adjust your dose.
Religious fasting
Fasting is an important part
of many religions. As well as
abstinence from food (and
sometimes drink), fasting is
also a time of reflection,
prayer and purification.
of sugary and fatty foods, such
as sweets, cakes and fried snacks
to only small amounts.
People with diabetes are usually
exempt from fasting, although
many still choose to do it. Your
religious leader can tell you more.
If you decide you want to fast, plan
ahead and speak to your diabetes
team to make sure your diabetes
control is not affected.
When you break your fast,
stick to your usual healthy,
balanced meals. Limit intake
team about adjusting your
medications, including insulin,
testing and avoiding highs
and lows.
2 Check your blood glucose levels
more often throughout your fast;
doing this doesn’t mean you’re
breaking the fast.
3 If you experience symptoms of
a low blood glucose level (hypo),
check your blood glucose level
1 Speak to your diabetes
A time
to purif
immediately. If it’s low, or
you can’t check your blood
glucose, break the fast
immediately and treat it with
your usual hypo treatment.
4 At the end of fasting, drink
plenty of water or sugar-free
drinks to avoid dehydration.
If you like sweet drinks, use
an artificial sweetener instead
of sugar.
For more information on
fasting with diabetes, call
the Diabetes UK Careline
on 0345 123 2399* or go to
Alcohol and other drinks
Water forms a substantial
part of the human body, so it
makes sense to drink enough
fluid every day to stay hydrated
and healthy. Water, tea, coffee
and milk all count. We also get
fluid from food, especially fruit
and vegetables.
Does it matter what we drink? Yes,
particularly when it comes to fruit
juices, smoothies and sugary or
alcoholic drinks – you can have
more calories and sugar than
you intend to because it’s easy
to drink a large amount in a short
time. If you’re trying to manage
your weight, keep a check on the
calories in what you drink.
Tips to make healthier choices:
Water is the best all-round drink.
If your family prefers flavoured
water, always read the label to
check the free (added) sugar
content – there could be between
5 and 7 tsp sugar in a bottle. Make
your own flavoured waters by
adding a squeeze of lemon or lime,
or strawberries. Children often need
reminding to drink, so give them
a colourful water bottle with a
funky straw.
Tea, coffee and hot
chocolate – cut back on sugar,
use artificial sweeteners, and try
semi-skimmed or skimmed milk.
Herbal teas can make a
refreshing change and most are
No added sugar squash
and cordials are a good option
as you tend to use little and add
more water. They do not affect your
blood glucose in the way fruit juices
and sugary drinks do.
Fruit juices (100 per cent juice)
contain vitamins and minerals and
150ml provides one portion of
your five a day – but remember,
fruit juices only count as one
portion, however much you drink.
They are best avoided, but if you do
have them, limit your intake to one
small glass a day.
Fizzy sugary drinks provide
little else apart from a lot of sugar, so
try to choose sugar-free alternatives,
unless you are using this to treat low
blood glucose (a hypo).
Malted drinks and energy
drinks can be high in sugar
and calories. You don’t need any
special drinks to stay healthy.
When you’re having fun, it can be
easy to get carried away and lose
track of how much you’re drinking.
Whether you or a family member
have diabetes or not, guidelines
recommend no more than
3–4 units of alcohol a day for men
and 2–3 units a day for women.
Alcohol is full of calories, so if
you’re trying to lose weight you
may want to drink less. Alcohol
also makes hypoglycaemia (low
blood glucose or hypos) more
likely for those who treat their
diabetes with insulin or certain
Type 2 diabetes medications, such
as sulphonylureas. But that doesn’t
mean you need to cut out alcohol
completely. Pace yourself and keep
track of how much you’re drinking.
If you have too much you might not
detect a hypo, and people around
you might think your change in
behaviour is due to the alcohol
rather than low blood glucose.
Tell people about your diabetes
and how they can help if you
have a hypo. Carry some
identification with you, too.
• Take a hypo treatment with you.
• Have something to eat before
you go out. Always have
something starchy, such as
cereal or toast, before going to
bed after you’ve had more than
a few units of alcohol, to help
reduce your risk of a night-time
hypo. Drink a pint of water, too,
so that you stay hydrated.
• Check your blood glucose level
before you go to bed and in the
morning. If it’s low, don’t ignore
it; if you can’t face food, have
a sugary drink.
Top tip
As a rule, it’s best for you and
your family to choose water,
unsweetened milky drinks, no
added sugar cordials, diluted
fruit juice or sugar-free, no
added sugar or diet drinks.
Drinking and
avoiding hypos
The size of the glass and the type of alcohol affects the number of units (ABV means alcohol
by volume). You can check units at www.drinkaware.co.uk
(25ml) spirit,
eg vodka,
gin, whisky
(40% ABV
(5.5% ABV)
white, rosé
or red wine
(12% ABV)
lager, beer
or cider
(5% ABV)
lager, beer
or cider
(5% ABV)
lager, beer
or cider
(3.6% ABV)
white, rosé
or red wine
(12% ABV)
white, rosé
or red wine
(12% ABV)
w hat’s your healthy weight?
We know that many adults
in the UK are overweight or
obese and those extra pounds
can cause problems with
our health, whether we have
diabetes or not. Excess weight
is linked with heart disease,
high blood pressure, stroke
and some cancers – as well
as Type 2 diabetes.
Achieving and maintaining a
healthy weight is often easier said
than done. For some people, it’s
one of the hardest things to do.
Whether you want to lose or gain
a few pounds – or are a healthy
weight already – there’s lots of
evidence to show that being a
healthy weight will benefit your
health. These benefits include
better blood pressure, cholesterol
and blood glucose levels, and a
reduction in your risk of developing
many long-term health problems.
And most people say they also
feel better about how they look.
The first step to finding out if you’re
a healthy weight is to check what
your body mass index (BMI) and
waist size are. For most adults,
these are good clues to whether
they’re a healthy weight.
BMI measures the amount of
weight relative to your height and
gives you an indication of whether
you’re underweight, a healthy
weight or overweight. A healthy
BMI is generally between 19 and
25, though people from Asian and
Black backgrounds are advised
to keep their BMI below 23.
Generally, if your BMI is more
than 25, this suggests that your
weight is above what’s healthy
for your height. A BMI below 19
indicates you may need support
to put on weight.
To find out more about BMI,
including how to work out if
your BMI is healthy, go to
Measuring your waist can help
you find out how much fat you
have stored around your stomach.
People who store fat around
their stomach are more likely to
develop heart disease and high
blood pressure. For people without
diabetes, this can also increase
your risk of developing Type 2
diabetes. If you need to lose weight,
reducing your waist size will help to
improve blood glucose control.
Measure yours now around
your middle, midway between
the bottom of your ribcage and
the top of your hips (see picture,
right). It should be less than:
• 80cm (31.5in) for women
• 90cm (35in) for South Asian men
• 94cm (37in) for White and
Black men.
Stay in
If your goal is to lose weight, the
best way to do it is to find a way
to eat less and move more. There
are different ways to approach this
(refer to page 38 – popular weightloss plans).
• Ask to be referred to a dietitian
who can discuss a plan that’s
right for you.
• Set realistic, achievable targets
that fit in with your lifestyle.
• Make changes to cooking
methods and choose healthier
ingredients. This is good for the
whole family, whether you have
diabetes or not.
• It can be hard going it alone, so
get your family’s support as you
work towards your goals.
Did you know?
Your waist measurement will
vary throughout your life and
women in particular are more
likely to put on weight around
their middle after going
through the menopause.
• Speak to a dietitian
who can help you work
out what your healthy
weight is and set realistic
weight-loss goals.
• Adopting a whole-family
approach by cooking
healthier meals for
everyone, and doing regular
activities together will
help everyone reach and
maintain a healthy weight.
• Go to www.diabetes.org.
uk/enjoyfood for more
on cooking and eating
with diabetes and www.
for ideas on what to cook.
Accurate m
measure en
Although there are many ways to
lose weight, there’s no one-size-fitsall approach – the best way is the
one you’re most likely to stick to.
Only a few popular diets show
any evidence that they work for
people with diabetes (with studies
mostly involving people with Type 2
diabetes). These diets are:
• a healthy, balanced diet
• a low-carb diet
• the Mediterranean diet
• a very low calorie diet
• a meal replacement plan.
Some of these diets and plans are
only recommended under medical
supervision and, depending on
the way your diabetes is treated,
they may affect your diabetes
management. You may also need
extra support to:
• make sure that you get all the
nutrients you need
• adjust your medications
• start checking your blood
glucose levels
• check your blood glucose levels
more regularly.
So before you start any weightloss plan, it’s important to speak to
your diabetes team to discuss the
best plan for you – and receive any
support you may need.
✔ Healthy, balanced diet
This is where you eat a variety of foods from all the
major food groups, reduce the amount of fat and eat
more fruit and vegetables, pulses, fish, low-fat dairy and
starchy foods. Even though all fats affect your weight
similarly, it’s better to include some healthier fats in your
diet. So choose nuts, avocados, olive and rapeseed
oils and spread, oily fish and reduce other fats such as
ghee, lard, red and processed meat, butter, etc. You also
need to reduce the amount of sugar you eat and watch
your overall portion sizes.
✔ Low-carb diet
There are several versions of a low-carb diet, but the
main principle is to limit the amount of carbs you eat
(below 130g a day) and get more of your calories from
protein and fat. As the amount of carbs you eat affects
your blood glucose levels, it’s important to keep an eye
on how much you eat. The amount you need depends
on your age, how active you are, etc, so speak to your
dietitian for personalised advice. If you decide to eat
fewer carbs, reduce nutritionally poor foods first (eg fizzy
drinks, energy drinks, cakes, biscuits and fruit juices),
and instead eat pulses, whole fruit, vegetables and
wholegrains as these are good for your overall health.
✔ Mediterranean diet
This diet is largely based on plant foods, including a
lot of vegetables, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds,
wholegrain bread, pasta and – of course – olive oil. You
can also eat some dairy (milk and yogurt), eggs and fish
– and drink wine – in moderation, while red meat should
be limited and processed foods are usually avoided.
A weight-loss plan may affect
your diabetes management, so
ask yourself:
• Has this diet been studied
with people who have my type
of diabetes?
• Who’s promoting this plan – is it
backed by single individuals or
reputable health organisations?
• How long am I going to be on
this diet?
• How does this plan fit in with
my lifestyle?
If you’re underweight or struggling
with your appetite, it’s important
to eat the foods you like rather
than being too restrictive with your
diet. This may mean eating foods
that are higher in fat and calories.
Speak with your diabetes team
to review your medications and
talk to a dietitian to help you make
any changes. They may suggest
ways you can gain and/or maintain
weight, such as:
• Eat smaller meals, more often.
You’ll find this easier than eating
three large meals and it will also
help increase your appetite.
• Use full-fat dairy products like
milk, cream, cheese and yogurt.
You may also want to discuss
these questions with your diabetes
team. But losing weight is more
complicated than just cutting down
fats, carbs or any other foods.
Losing weight successfully often
involves changing your behaviour
and breaking lifelong habits – which
is hard.
People who successfully lose
weight and then maintain it in the
long term tend to:
• weigh themselves regularly –
mostly once a week
• eat breakfast regularly
• reduce their intake of fast foods
(eg takeaways)
• cut down their portion sizes
• spend less time watching
TV/sitting down
• increase their physical activity,
including walking more.
Top tip
Keeping a food diary can help you to
monitor what you’re eating and identify any
eating patterns that you need to change.
Add unsaturated fats to your
food where you can in foods
such as avocados, nuts and
seeds, and spreads and oils,
including olive, rapeseed,
sunflower and peanut.
Unsaturated fats are still high
in calories, but better for your
heart than saturated fats.
Serve vegetables with melted
butter, spread or grated cheese.
Add cream or full-fat milk
to foods like mashed potato
or soups.
Have nourishing drinks like
smoothies and milky drinks.
Add powdered milk to cereals.
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Find this recipe for
Sweet and sour meatballs
with veggie rice at
Cooking at home
Many hands make light work –
that’s certainly true when you’re
preparing food. Cooking and
eating together as a family not
only helps you eat a healthy,
balanced diet, but also helps
you all learn cookery skills that
will last a lifetime.
There’s a lot of enjoyment and
pleasure to be had from food,
particularly at social occasions.
If a recipe is high in fats,
sugars or salt only eat them
occasionally and watch your
portions. It’s all about enjoying
tasty treats in moderation.
Children love helping in the
kitchen. It can be fun for
everyone. If children have helped
prepare the food, they’re more
likely to want to eat it.
You can always make what you
eat a little bit healthier, without
losing flavour – try the healthy
swaps for breakfast, lunch and
dinner (on pages 44–61), and
see the difference.
For more recipes that all
the family can join in and cook,
go to our recipe finder
Have fu
togethe n
Adapting recipes
The recipes on the following
pages can be adapted if you
want to make more or less,
depending on how many
you’re cooking for. For
example, to make a recipe
for two into a recipe for six,
multiply all the ingredient
quantities by three; to make
a recipe for two into a recipe
for one, use half the amount
listed for each ingredient. Don’t
worry about the nutritional
information – that all stays
the same because they have
been analysed for each portion,
not the whole recipe.
Start the day the right way with these healthy,
filling and delicious breakfasts.
Serves 2 • dairy free • nut free
• vegan • low fat • low sugar
• 1 portion of fruit and veg per
serving • prep: 15 mins
• cook: 10 mins
To toast seeds, add them
to a dry frying pan over
a medium heat, stir and
remove from the pan as
soon as they start to brown.
50g ready-to-eat dried apricots
150ml orange or apple juice
50g porridge oats
15g mixed seeds, toasted
1 Place the apricots in a small
pan and cover with the juice,
bring to the boil and simmer
for 5 minutes.
2 Set aside for 10 minutes,
then place in a food processor
or blender and blend to form
a purée.
3 Place the oats in a small pan,
cover with 600ml water, place
over a low heat and cook for
3–4 minutes.
4 Stir through half the apricot
purée, divide between two
bowls and top with the toasted
seeds and a swirl of the
remaining purée.
Each 389g serving contains:
219kcal – 5.8g protein
– 34.6g carbs ( • 17g sugars)
– • 5.8g fat ( • 0.9g saturates)
– • 0.01g salt
Rise &
Serves 1 • 1 portion of fruit
and veg per serving • prep: 5 mins
• cook: 10–12 mins
• 1 tsp sunflower oil
• 1 slice ham, chopped into
small pieces
1 small leek, finely sliced
2 medium eggs
1 tbsp low-fat yogurt
pinch white pepper
10g Parmesan cheese,
finely grated
fresh chives, to serve
Each 276g serving contains:
280kcal – 23g protein
– 5.2g carbs ( • 2.5g sugars)
– • 18.1g fat ( • 5.7g saturates)
– • 1.3g salt
1 Add the oil to a small frying pan
4 Sprinkle with the remaining
over a low to medium heat,
then add the chopped ham and
leek, and stir until the leek has
softened, about 3–4 minutes.
2 In a bowl, beat the eggs with
the yogurt, then mix in the
pepper and half the Parmesan.
Meanwhile, turn the grill on.
3 Pour the egg mixture into
the pan and mix quickly with a
fork. Allow to cook for 1 minute,
then stir again. Cook for another
1–2 minutes, constantly easing
the edges of the frittata away
from the sides of the pan.
Parmesan and grill for
2–3 minutes until golden brown.
5 Slide the frittata onto a plate
and enjoy, or allow to cool,
then refrigerate.
Go to www.diabetes.org.uk/
ham-frittata to see our video
on how to cook this.
Grated Parmesan cheese
has a strong taste, so you
don’t need to use much to
get a really cheesy flavour,
but with less fat.
Try these easy swaps
for healthier and
delicious breakfasts
• Swap a fruit yogurt for a
plain low-fat yogurt and
some fresh berries and
save 46kcal and 2.3g fat.
• Eat a fruit and fibre cereal,
instead of granola, and
save a massive 170kcal
and 10g fat.
• Plain rice crispies, rather
than chocolate-flavoured
cereal, saves 1.5 tsp sugar.
Don’t undo the benefits
by adding sugar to the plain
rice crispies.
• Use wholegrain bread for
toast and boost your fibre
intake for a healthy gut.
• Swap whole milk for semiskimmed milk on your cereal
– you’ll save 30kcal and 3g
fat, and still get the calcium
you need for strong bones
and teeth.
• Switch from butter to a
vegetable-based spread
to cut back on saturated
fat, and choose a lower-fat
alternative if you’re watching
your weight.
• Try a medium skinny
cappuccino, instead of a
latte, and save a whopping
100kcal and 8g fat (of which
5g is saturated fat).
Full English
Choose one good
quality, grilled sausage
Replace hash browns
with wholegrain toast
Swap fried eggs for
poached or boiled eggs
Switch streaky bacon for
unsmoked rindless grilled
back bacon
Serve reduced-sugar and
salt baked beans instead
of the usual, and steamed
mushrooms instead of fried
At home, school or work, a filling and nutritious lunch will help you keep
your energy levels high all afternoon. Try these recipes and swaps.
Serves 2 • dairy free • gluten free
• 4 portions of fruit and veg per
serving • prep: 5 mins
grated zest ½ lemon
pinch salt and black pepper
20ml extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion,
finely chopped
180g ripe cherry tomatoes,
cut into quarters
8cm cucumber, chopped
1 x 400g tin chickpeas
in water, drained
1 x 200g tin tuna
in water, drained
150g salad leaves/lettuce
2 lemon wedges
1 Add the lemon zest to a large
bowl with the salt and pepper,
and olive oil.
2 Next, add the red onion,
tomatoes and cucumber, mix
well and leave to infuse for a
couple of minutes.
3 Add the chickpeas and
tuna, and fold in gently
so everything is coated
with the dressing.
Each 453g serving contains:
334kcal – 28.2g protein
– 26.6g carbs ( • 6.9g sugars)
– •14.7g fat ( • 2.1g saturates)
– • 1.3g salt
4 Finally, toss in the salad
leaves and divide between
two lunch boxes, packed with
a lemon wedge to squeeze
over before eating.
• Acidic ingredients, such
as lemon juice, will make
your salad go limp, so take
a wedge of lemon in your
packed lunch to use just
before eating.
• Salmon or prawns make a
good alternative to tuna.
For a vegetarian version, try
pieces of marinated tofu.
Each 258g serving contains:
216kcal – 11.1g protein
– 21.4g carbs ( • 5.1g sugars)
– • 10.2g fat ( • 2.5g saturates)
– • 0.4g salt
Serves 4 • dairy free • gluten free
• vegetarian • 1 portion of fruit and
veg per serving • prep: 10 mins
• cook: 45 mins
• 400g new potatoes
• 250g frozen leaf spinach
(130g once defrosted and
excess water squeezed out)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
5 eggs
pinch salt and pepper,
to season
1 Boil the potatoes in their skins
for 15–20 minutes (depending
on size) until almost cooked,
but still firm. Drain and run
them under a cold tap to make
them easier to handle, before
cutting each potato into
½cm-thick slices.
Meanwhile, defrost the spinach,
squeeze out the excess water
and chop it slightly.
Add the oil to a large,
non-stick frying pan and put
onto a medium heat. Add the
onion and cook for 2–3 minutes
until soft.
Beat the eggs with the salt and
pepper, mix in the spinach and
then add the potatoes.
Pour the egg mixture into the
frying pan. Use a spatula to
press the tortilla down, and to
press in the sides to create an
even shape.
Once the tortilla has almost set
(approx 5 minutes) invert onto
a plate, then slide it back into
the pan to cook the other side
for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat
and turn the tortilla twice more,
cooking for 2–3 minutes on
each side.
7 Slide the tortilla onto a plate and
leave to cool for 10–15 minutes.
Ideally, serve warm, as it tastes
much better.
• For this tortilla recipe
(also known as Spanish
omelette), you can use
other vegetables instead of
spinach, such as peas and
red pepper. Or, try adding
some herbs or garlic.
• For a packed lunch, allow
to cool completely before
slicing and packing.
Try these easy swaps
for lunch this week
Switch your crisps
for a different snack –
fromage frais or carrot
sticks are good choices
Swap sugary
drinks for a
bottle of water
Take an apple – or
any fruit you like!
Add some cucumber
or lettuce to a cheese
sandwich on wholegrain
bread, or to a tuna
granary roll
Packed lun
• Swap a canned drink for
a diet version and save
7 tsp sugar.
• Cut back on fat by choosing
baked crisps as a healthier
alternative to fried. Watch
the salt content, though.
• Choose a two-finger
chocolate wafer biscuit,
rather than a standard
chocolate bar, and save on
both fat and calories.
• Switch a can of creamy
tomato soup for a clear
soup, such as chicken
noodle, and save 170kcal
and 13g fat. Don’t forget
to check the salt content,
which can be high in
canned soups.
• Try a ham salad sandwich
instead of a club sandwich,
to save 135kcal and 16g fat.
Make your own and cut
out even more fat by using
less spread.
• Open sandwiches reduce
calories and fat by using
half the amount of bread.
Sign up today as a
mobile member to
get expert advice on
diabetes sent straight
to your phone.
For just £3 a month, you’ll receive tailored,
expert advice to your phone and you’ll be
supporting our vital research into diabetes
care, cure and prevention.
As a mobile member, you’ll get:
• Monthly text messages tailored to your needs
whether you have Type 1 diabetes, Type 2
diabetes or are a parent of a child with diabetes.
• Access to Diabetes Balance magazine on
your smartphone.
• Full access to our other informative
companion guides.
It take seconds to sign up, there is no long form
to fill out and your £3 monthly donation will be
deducted directly from your phone bill.
What are you waiting for?
Become a mobile
member today.
If you’re a parent of a child with
Type 1 diabetes, text FAMILY to 70002
If you have Type 1 diabetes, text
MANAGE to 70002
If you have Type 2 diabetes, text
MEMBER to 70002
For further details please go to
or call 0345 123 2399*
Diabetes UK is a charity registered in England and Wales (no. 215199) and in Scotland (no. SC039136). © Diabetes UK 2015
At the end of a busy day, it’s great to sit down as a
family and catch up over a meal. Keep it healthy by
trying these tasty recipes and swaps.
Serves 8 • dairy free • gluten free
• nut free • vegan • low fat
• low sugar • 2 portions of fruit
and veg per serving • prep 15 mins
• cook 1 hour
2 tsp sunflower oil
2–3 onions, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
150g carrots, finely chopped
1 courgette, finely chopped
100g mushrooms, finely
1–2 tsp chilli powder (mild or hot,
according to your taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin lentils in water
1 x 400g tin mixed beans in water
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 tsp salt
coriander, to garnish
1 Heat the oil in a large pan,
add the onions and cook for
5–8 minutes until they start
to brown.
2 Add the red pepper,
carrots, courgette and
mushrooms, and cook for
a further 10 minutes.
3 Next, add the chilli powder,
cumin, oregano and tomatoes.
Mix well, then cook for a further
10 minutes, stirring regularly.
4 Add the lentils and beans
with their water, ketchup,
sugar and salt. Mix well and
bring to a gentle bubble. Add
a lid and simmer gently for
30 minutes, stirring regularly.
Each 195g serving contains:
138kcal – 7.2g protein
– 21.2g carbs ( • 9.8g sugars)
– • 1.7g fat ( • 0.1g saturates)
– • 1.1g salt
• Keep in the fridge for up
to three days or freeze.
• Be careful with chilli
– you can always add
more but you can’t take
it out! Add a little and
allow time for the heat to
infuse, taste it and only
add more if you need to.
If sharing with friends,
make it mild and serve
with some chilli sauce
or flakes on the side, so
people can spice it up if
they want to.
for tea
Serves 4 • gluten free • low fat
• low sugar • 4 portions of fruit
and veg per serving • prep: 10 mins
• cook: 50 mins
dash olive oil
2 onions, cut into wedges
350g cubed lean lamb
2 carrots, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tsp dried mint
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped tsp cumin
¼ tsp chilli flakes
pinch salt
50g dried apricots, halved
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
Each 450g serving contains
(excludes serving suggestions):
304kcal – 25.4g protein
– 28.5g carbs ( • 16.7 sugars)
– • 11g fat ( • 3.5g saturates)
– • 1.3g salt
1 Add oil to a pan, then add
the onion and cook for
3 minutes until starting to brown.
Add the lamb and stir for another
couple of minutes to brown
the outside.
2 Add the carrots, yellow pepper,
tomatoes, mint, cinnamon,
cumin, chilli flakes, 200ml water
and salt. Bring to a gentle boil,
turn the heat down, add a lid
and simmer gently for
30 minutes, stirring regularly.
3 Add the apricots and chickpeas,
and simmer for another
15 minutes.
4 Serve with couscous, rice,
quinoa or flatbread and salad.
To save money, try using
dried chickpeas. Soak and
cook the whole packet of
chickpeas, following the
instructions on the pack,
and then freeze them. You
can defrost what you need
and add them to all sorts
of dishes, such as stews,
soups, curries and salads.
Cut down the amount of fat you
use in the béchamel sauce or use
a reduced-fat spread instead
of butter. Swap whole milk for
skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
Serve with salad, or
extra vegetables
Top with a strong cheese
and use less of it
Add vegetables to your mince,
such as carrots, mushrooms and
spinach, to up the fibre and make
sure you’re getting your five a day
Opt for lean meat and find
ways to reduce the amount of
fat you use for cooking – by
using a vegetable spray oil or
a non-stick pan
• Season your roast with
pepper, garlic and any herbs
you like, to keep your salt
intake to a minimum.
• If you’re making gravy from
your roast meat, skim the fat
off the top before serving –
skimming just 1 tbsp fat
cuts 12g of fat and at least
100 calories.
• Stick to leaner meat –
skinless chicken and turkey
are high in protein and low in
fat. If you go for beef, trim off
any visible fat before cooking.
• Vegetarian? For a meat-free
roast use QuornTM or roast
meat substitutes, which
are generally low in fat
and calories.
• Make your roast potatoes
big and chunky, so there’s
less surface area to soak
up oil. Rapeseed oil is a
good choice for roasts, or
opt for a low-calorie cooking
spray instead.
• Add lots of your favourite veg
for more colour and nutrition.
Steam your greens, such
as broccoli and cabbage,
and roast your root veg, like
parsnips and carrots.
A few simple swaps can make
family roast dinners healthier,
without skimping on flavour
In a healthy, balanced diet, there’s room for the occasional
treat. Why not try this recipe one weekend?
Makes 16 bars • vegan • nut free
• prep: 10 mins • cook: 20–25 mins
• 2 bananas
• 2 apples, cored and finely
chopped, but not peeled
175g rolled oats
150ml apple juice
40g raisins
40g mixed seeds, such as
sunflower and pumpkin
• 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/
gas 4. With a fork, thoroughly
mash the bananas, then beat
them a little.
2 Add the apples, oats, apple
juice, raisins, mixed seeds
and cinnamon. Mix well.
3 Oil a baking sheet with
the oil and spread out the
mixture to a depth of 2cm.
• You can add sesame,
hemp or poppy seeds,
and linseeds to this recipe.
Or, you could buy a bag
of ready-mixed seeds.
• Store at room temperature
in an airtight container for
a couple of days, or in the
fridge for up to one week.
4 Bake in the oven for
15–20 minutes.
5 Allow to cool, cut into
16 portions and serve.
Each 51g bar contains:
83kcal – 19.8g protein
– 1.8g carbs ( • 6.9g sugar)
– • 2.3g fat ( • 0.4g saturates)
– • 0g salt
Tasty doesn’t have
to mean unhealthy - give
these snack swaps a go
• Switch a skinny blueberry muffin
for a portion of fruit salad to save
calories and get closer to your five
a day.
• Try a slice of malt loaf – it’s a
good alternative to a flapjack.
• Scotch eggs are high in fat
and calories – swap them for
bite-sized veggie alternatives to
cut back calories without losing
out on taste.
• Buy a smaller-sized coffee. A
skimmed latte with sugar-free
flavourings and no whipped
cream has the same great flavour,
without the extra fat.
Snack ideas
Not everyone with diabetes
requires regular snacks. If
you treat your diabetes with
insulin and/or certain Type 2
medication, you may need
a snack to prevent a hypo.
If you have Type 1 diabetes and
have been on a carb-counting
course such as DAFNE, you will
have been told that snacks with
less than 10g of carbs don’t usually
require extra insulin injections. If
you’re on a pump you will probably
still be covering it with a bolus.
For people with Type 2 diabetes,
who are trying to limit their carb
intake, swapping your snacks
can also be useful. If your main
focus is weight loss, choose snacks
with the least amount of calories.
• 1 x 115g pot of sugar-free
jelly: 1.2g carbs and 8kcal
• 25g toasted seed mix:
3.8g carbs and 132kcal
• 25g almonds: 1.7g carbs
and 153kcal
• ¼ pot (50g) of reduced-fat
hummus and ½ packet (75g)
of fresh sliced peppers:
9.3g carbs and 140kcal
1 chopped boiled egg
and 100g carrot batons:
9.4g carbs and 105kcal
25g root veg crisps: 10g carbs
and 129kcal
½ an avocado (80g):
1.5g carbs and 158kcal
1 kiwi fruit: 8.5g carbs
and 44kcal
su, 33, ha
Benny Bon
Type 2 dia
y and
“Swap cand
for mixed
ice creams
fruits. Swap
ogurt – it
for frozen y
tastes so go
1 small apple
2 satsumas
80g blueberries
1 handful of grapes
2 kiwi fruits
80g mango
1 slice of melon
2 oranges
2 small plums
1 peach or nectarine
3 rings of pineapple
10 strawberries
30g ready-to-eat, partially
rehydrated prunes
• 1 x 14g mini box of raisins
• 1 rice cake with 1 tsp
pure fruit spread
• 1 lighter cheese slice with
¼ cucumber
• 1 lighter cheese triangle
and 8 cherry tomatoes
• 1 x 115g pot sugar-free jelly
• 4 bread sticks
• 80g defrosted frozen
cherries with 50g 0% fat
Greek-style yogurt whizzed
together with ice
• 10 almonds
• 100g carrot battons,
¼ cucumber and 50g salsa
• ½ a pot (300g) shop-bought
fresh tomato soup
• 25g unsalted nuts
• 1 tsp (15g) almond butter
spread onto slices of a
chopped apple
100g 0% fat Greek-style
yogurt with 100g blueberries
2 small crispbreads with 60g
0% fat cottage cheese
25g toasted seed mix
1 (25g) slice of Edam cheese
with 1 apple
2 small crispbread multiseed
thins with 1 x 30g slice
chicken breast
2 rice cakes with ¼ pot (50g)
tzatziki dip
Betavivo is
available now!
At Lloyds, Holland & Barrett
and leading independent
We all like a nice dessert occasionally with friends and
loved ones. Try these dessert pots as a special treat.
Serves 4 • gluten free • nut free
• vegetarian • low fat • ½ portion
of fruit and veg per serving
• prep: 20 mins • cook: 15 mins
• 225g fresh cherries
• 2 tbsp artificial sweetener
• 1 level tsp cornflour, blended with
1 tbsp cold water
• 100g quark or low-fat
soft cheese
• 2 tbsp skimmed milk
• ½ level tsp vanilla extract
For the chocolate sauce
• 25g dark chocolate,
broken into pieces
• 1 heaped tsp unsweetened
cocoa powder
• ½ level tsp cornflour, blended
with ½ tbsp cold water
• 1 level tbsp golden syrup
Each 109g serving contains:
114kcal – 5g protein
– 19g carbs ( • 16g sugars)
– • 2.2g fat ( • 1.3g saturates)
– • 0.1g salt
1 Halve and pit the fresh
cherries, reserving 4 whole
ones for decoration.
Put in a small pan with
50ml water and 1 tbsp of the
artificial sweetener. Simmer
for 3–4 minutes until soft.
Blend the cornflour with the cold
water and stir into the cherries
until thickened.
Remove from heat and cool,
stirring to prevent skin forming.
In a bowl, beat the quark,
the skimmed milk, vanilla
extract and remaining
sweetener and continue
beating until smooth.
For the chocolate sauce, put
the dark chocolate pieces into
a pan and add the
unsweetened cocoa powder,
the cornflour, blended with
the cold water, and the golden
syrup. Heat, stirring constantly,
until smooth. Cool, stirring to
prevent a skin forming.
7 Spoon everything into small
serving glasses. Finish each one
with a cherry. Chill and serve.
Blueberries or blackberries
work just as well as cherries
and are much simpler to
prepare as they don’t need
de-stoning. You could also
use raspberries but if so
reduce the cooking time to
2 minutes.
Mark t
There’s nothing like a slice of cake on
your birthday. Have a small piece of
your favourite kind, or use these swaps
for a healthier version
• Add a design by using a
stencil and a dusting of
icing sugar and/or cocoa.
If your cake has fondant,
take this off your slice
before you eat it.
• Decorate with colourful
fruit, or make a statement
with indoor fireworks.
• Add a wide ribbon to the
side of the cake instead of
icing – this reduces sugar
and produces an elegant
looking cake.
• Add a thin layer of jam
inside the cake rather than
buttercream or cream.
• Use oil such as rapeseed
or sunflower oil or lower-fat
spread rather than butter.
Olive oil is good, too, but
has quite a strong flavour.
• Fruit cakes and carrot
cakes are made with less
added sugar, but keep an
eye on extras like icing and
toppings so they don’t end
up with the same calories
as other cakes.
• Make a square cake that’s
easier to cut into more even,
slightly smaller sizes.
Baking recipes
You can find lots of healthier bakes
at www.diabetes.org.uk/recipes
Active, getting more 29
Alcohol 6, 34–35
avoiding hypos 34
units of 35
Artificial sweetener 11, 13, 27
Back of pack labels 18
Beans 10, 16, 27, 47
BMI 36
Body Mass Index (BMI) see BMI
Breakfast 44–47
recipes 44–47
swaps 46
Budgeting 22–25
Carbohydrates 12, 14–16, 20, 58
counting 15–16, 32, 58
different types 14
how much 15
including 16
insulin 15
Children, cooking 26–29, 43
Chinese food 32
Coeliac disease 15
Colour-coded labels 18–20
children 26–29, 43
family 26–29, 43
Dairy foods 11, 27
Desserts 60
Diabetes courses 15, 58
‘Diabetic’ foods 6, 13
healthy, balanced 9–13, 26, 38
low-fat 38
low-carb 7, 38
Mediterranean 38
Dietitian 11, 14, 33
Dinner 52–55
recipes 52–55
swaps 55
Drinking see Alcohol
Eating out 30–32
Eating well with diabetes 12–13
Eggs 7, 10
Enewsletter, sign up 5
cooking 26–29 see also
Family food
keeping healthy 29
Family food 26–29
breakfast 44–47
dinner 52–55
lunch 48–50
occasions 60–61
snacks 56–58
Fasting, religious 33
Fats 6, 11, 16, 18, 19, 20, 27, 40,
46–47, 50, 54
cutting 12, 46–47, 50, 54,
55, 57
Fibre 15, 16, 20, 54
Fish 10, 13, 32
Five a day 9, 18, 25, 28, 34, 50
Fizzy drinks 7, 11
Food groups 9–11
Food labels 18–20
back of pack 18
colour-coded 18–20
front of pack 18
nutrition 19
portion size 9, 20
tips 20
budgeting 22–25
leftovers 24
planning 22
reheating 24
waste 24
Front of pack labels 18
Fructose 14
Fruit 6, 9, 12, 16, 22–24, 46, 50,
56, 57, 58
Fruit juice 16, 23
Glycaemic index (GI) 10, 16
Healthy snacks 56–58
Healthy weight 36–40 see also
Healthy, balanced diet 9–11, 26,
38, 43
Hypoglycaemia see Hypos
Hypos 7, 33, 34
safer drinking 34–35
Indian food 25
Insulin 5, 8, 11, 26, 28, 30
Labels, food 13–15
Lactose 10
Leftovers 18
Lentils 9, 12, 21, 25
Lunch 24, 42–45
recipes 42, 43
swaps 45
Main courses 25
Malaysian food 26
Meat 10, 12, 22, 23, 45, 47, 53–55
free 10, 13, 48–49
Meal planning 22
Nuts 6, 9, 11
Occasions 52–53
recipe 52
swaps 53
Olive oil 7, 9
Omega-3 6, 10, 13
Party food 26
Portion sizes 9, 13
Protein 6, 9, 12, 16, 22
Pulses 6, 9, 11, 12, 16, 18, 21, 24,
Quiz: Food, drink and Diabetes 5
Answers 6
Rapeseed oil 6, 11, 13, 25, 40,
55, 61
breakfast 44–47
dinner 52–55
lunch 48–50
occasions 60–61
snacks 56–58
Regular meals 12
Restaurants 30–32
desserts 31
main courses 31
starters 31
Salt 13,16, 27, 50
reducing 13, 27, 47, 55
Saving money 22–25,53
Seeds 40, 44, 56, 58
Shopping 22–25
list 22
tips 23
Smoothies 23–24
Snacks 7, 56–57
Snack ideas 58
recipe 56
swaps 57
Special occasions see Occasions
Starchy foods 10
Starters 31
Store cupboard checklist 25
Sugar 9, 11, 13, 16, 19, 20,
46, 50, 61
cutting 11, 13, 27, 46, 47, 50
free 5, 6, 7, 13,
Sunflower oil 6, 11
Sweetener, artificial 7, 9
fats 5
oils 7
Vegetables 6, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17
Weight 32–34
gaining 34
losing 34
loss-plans 38
maintaining 37
Waist measurement 36–37
Water, flavoured 11, 34
Wholegrains 13, 14, 15, 16, 22
Takeaways 25
Thai food 26
Traffic light labels see Colour-coded
Type 1 diabetes 5, 8, 11, 13, 23, 27
Type 2 diabetes 5, 8, 11, 23, 32, 33
The information provided in this guide is correct at the time of publication. It is not
a substitute for seeing a healthcare professional and is not intended to replace the
advice given by a healthcare professional. Products and services advertised in this
guide are not necessarily recommended by Diabetes UK. Although the utmost care is
taken to make sure products and services advertised are accurately represented, it is
only possible to thoroughly check specialist diabetes equipment. Please exercise your
own discretion about whether or not an item or service advertised is likely to help you
personally and, where appropriate, take professional advice from your medical advisor.
Please note also that prices are applicable only to British buyers and may vary for
overseas purchases. Paid adverts do not necessarily represent the views of Diabetes
UK. Complaints regarding advertised services or products should be addressed to:
Creative Services, Diabetes UK, 10 Parkway, London NW1 7AA. Diabetes UK policy
statements are always clearly identified as such. © Diabetes UK 2015. A charity
registered in England and Wales (no. 215199) and in Scotland (no. SC039136).
Team up with us and take part
in our diabetes trials
We want to improve the lives of people with diabetes but we need your help. As a world
leader in diabetes care, Novo Nordisk is looking for people who would like to help make a
difference by taking part in diabetes research. By participating in our clinical trials, you could
help us to develop medicines that may benefit you and others like you. You may also get
access to potential future treatments and learn more about your condition.
To find out more:
Text INFO to 62277*
Call free on 0808 169 66 66**
Visit www.changingdiabetesresearch.co.uk
*Texts charged at your service providers standard rate
**Calls are free from BT landlines while charges from other network providers may vary
Together we can change the future of diabetes.
Changing Diabetes® is a registered trademark of Novo Nordisk
Date of Preparation: December 2013: UK/DB/1213/0524
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