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Diabetes & Diet


Diet | Sugar | Carbohydrate | Non-starch foods | Fats | Milk & Yoghurt


How Diabetes affects diet

Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high due to a lack of insulin.  Eating the right food at regular intervals during the day helps to keep blood glucose at satisfactory levels.


It is important to AVOID HIGH SUGAR FOODS.  The majority of high sugar foods have suitable replacements for diabetics, some of which are included in the table below.

High sugar food to avoid


Sweets, toffee, mints, chocolate, both ordinary and diabetic varieties.   
Sugar, dextrose, glucose, fructose, sorbitol, sucron, sionon. Artificial sweeteners can be used in moderation, eg Canderel, Saccharin, Hermesetas. Use tablet sweeteners for drinks and powdered sweeteners for cereals, custard and milk puddings, etc.
Honey, syrup, treacle, ordinary and diabetic jams and marmalades, lemon curd. Low sugar/sugar reduced jams and marmalades. Pure fruit spreads. Marmite.
Ordinary pops and squashes, Lucozade, milk shakes, drinking chocolate, Ordinary Ribena, fruit juice drinks, eg Cranberry juice drinks, Five Alive, Fruit Burst, Sports Drinks. Low calorie/low sugar pops and squashes, eg "Diet", "One Cal", "Slimline" brands. Mineral water, soda water, Bovril, Oxo. Tea and coffee without sugar. Limit unsweetened fruit juice to 1 small glass a day.
Cream and chocolate biscuits, shortbread, wafers, sponge and cream cakes, pastries, iced buns. Plain biscuits, eg Marie, Rich Tea, Garibaldi, gingernuts, digestives, crispbreads, scone, teacakes, oatcakes, malt loaf.
Ordinary puddings and desserts, jelly, trifle, tarts, gateau, full fat yoghurt, fruit in syrup. Milk puddings (tapioca, rice, sago, semolina) and custard made with low fat milk and artificial sweetener. Sugar free Angel Delight. Sugar free jelly. Fruit - fresh/tinned in juice/stewed without sugar. Natural/low sugar, low fat fromage frais and yoghurt, eg "Ski Light", St Ivel "Shape". Canned low sugar rice pudding. Ice cream.
Sugar coated breakfast cereal, eg Frosties, Honeynut Cornflakes. Sweetened Muesli. All other cereals. Sugar free muesli.

Carbohydrate (Starchy foods)

A starchy food MUST be included at every meal and preferably in similar amounts each day. If possible choose starches that are high in fibre.

The following list gives suitable choices of starchy foods:

Bread & crackers

White, Wholemeal, Granary Bread, Mighty White, Pitta Bread, Bread Rolls, French Stick, Ryvitas and other Crispbreads, Cream Crackers.

Breakfast cereals

Porridge, Bran flakes, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, Cornflakes, Special K, Ready Brek, Fruit & Fibre, Rice Krispies, Sugar Free Muesli.

Pasta & rice

All types: White/Wholegrain including Spaghetti, Macaroni, Tagliatelle. White/Wholegrain Rice.


Boiled, baked, mashed, waffles. Roast potatoes or chips can be included twice/week.

Other starches

Barley, CousCous, Chappati.


Non-starch foods


All types can be included: beef, pork, lamb, ham, bacon, liver, chicken, turkey. All cuts are suitable if lean, eg roasting joints, lean mince and stewing steak, chops, etc. Made up dishes can be included,eg Cottage Pie, Lasagne.


Try to eat fish once/twice a week. Can be tinned (in brine), fresh, frozen or smoked. Avoid fish in batter.


Limit ordinary cheese to lb a week.


Limit to 5/6 per week.


All fruits can be eaten: fresh/tinned in juice/dried/ stewed without sugar. It is important to eat fruit 3 times a day.


All vegetables and salads can be eaten: fresh/frozen/ tinned. Baked beans, peas, broad beans, lentils, butter beans and other pulses are particularly good to include. Eat some vegetables/ salad every day.


Drink at least 7-8 cups of sugar free liquid each day.


Usually allowed in moderation. Avoid diabetic beers and lagers. more info...

Diabetic foods

These are NOT recommended and best avoided.


Can be eaten in small quantities.

Herbs, spices & sauces

Use salt in moderation. Herbs, spices, pepper can be used. Ketchups and chutney 1-2 tsps only.


It is important to limit the amount of fat in your diet, as too much fat can cause weight gain, increase blood fat levels and affect blood sugar control.

Ways to reduce the amount of fat in your diet are:

  • Use cooking methods which do not need any (or a very little) fat, ie grill, bake, roast, steam, poach, microwave or casserole.
  • When fat is required for cooking use small amount of:
    polyunsaturated oils (corn/soya/safflower, etc) or
    monounsaturated oils (olive/rape-seed).
  • Spread butter or margarine thinly. If you choose to use a margarine, choose a polyunsaturated type, eg Flora, Vitalite, or preferably a monounsaturated type, eg Olivio, St Ivel "Mono".
  • Remove all visible fat from meat and skin from chicken.
  • Skim fat from casseroles and gravies.
  • Eat high fat foods only occasionally. Examples of high fat foods are - all fried foods, roast potatoes, chips, crisps, pastry, pies, pasties, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, samosas, fatty meats, spam, luncheon meat, meat and fish paste, cream, mayonnaise.
  • Use low calorie salad dressing instead of mayonnaise or ordinary salad cream.

Milk & yoghurt

  • Choose skimmed or semi-skimmed milk for tea, coffee, cereals, puddings.
  • Choose low fat, low sugar yoghurts/fromage frais rather than full-fat varieties.