Dietary Tips


In my experience I have found that the following tips are the answers to the most frequently asked questions by people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes.

Follow a healthy, balanced diet

There is no such thing as a ‘diabetic diet’, only a diet that is healthy, balanced and everything in moderation. The diet for diabetes is no different to what everyone else who does not have diabetes should be eating. So therefore when someone is newly diagnosed with diabetes it is a good idea for the whole family to adopt the same healthy eating regieme as the person with diabetes

Keep your portion sizes small

While people are very good to make healthier changes to their diet, they forget about portion sizes. Keep your portion sizes small and frequent, eating 3 regular meals a day.For example, for dinner, half your dinner plate should be vegetables, no more than 2-3 medium sized boiled potatoes, and a portion of meat is about the size of a closed fist 

Follow a high fibre diet

If you follow a low fat, high fibre diet, there is no reason why you cannot have sugar in moderation, usually 25g or 1oz per day, spread out over the day. Fibre is becoming a very important component in the diet of those who have diabetes. Brown breads, wholegrain rice, etc are examples. Also green leafy vegetables. 

Try and limited your sugar intake

Nearly most foods contain sugar, especially hidden ones. Following a ‘sugar free’ diet is nearly next to impossible and extremely restricting. Most products that are low in fat will be high in sugar, so always check the ingredients for both and salt levels also. If sugar is listed in the first 3 ingredients of any product, it is usually high in sugar. Be aware that any ingredient ending in the word ‘ose’ is also a sugar.


These foods, while they are low in sugar, or sugar free, are high in fat and many contain an artificial sweetener that has a laxative effect. Remember in diabetes, not only are we trying to regulate your blood sugars, but to control your cholesterol as well. Many of these specialised foods defeat the purpose, and are very expensive. You can have ordinary jam, but just less of it, no more than a teaspoon. Eating jam on high fibre bread, will slow down the absorption of the sugar even further.

Alcohol is fine in moderation

There is no reason why someone with diabetes can’t have alcohol. Again stick to what is recommended, 14units/week for a female, 21units for a man. Some alcohol beverages like stout can initially raise your blood sugars, but once the alcohol is absorbed, your blood sugars will lower, depending on the quantity that you drink. If you are planning to have more than the recommended 2/3units/ day, you will need to eat a carbohydrate snack once you get home, or find yourself going low. Remember Moderate ‘hypo’ symptoms can often mimic someone who is drunk, so know the distinction and be prepared.

The Low Glycaemic Diet is recommended

The Low Glycaemic Diet is recommended for people with diabetes. Some supermarket chains such as Tesco & Marks & Spencers stock Low GI Diet foods, and are labelled like a traffic light, green for foods that you can have, and red for those that are high GI and not recommended.

Artificial Sweetners

Artificial Sweeteners such as Splenda, Canderal etc are fine. Be aware that artificial sweeteners, taste sweeter than actual sugar, therefore over time, your taste for sweet foods will become even greater, as your taste buds will become accustomed to the sweetened taste.

Eliminate trigger foods

Watch for your ‘Trigger Foods’. Foods that you crave or cause symptoms of bloating, flatulence, tummy upset, maybe the very food that is causing you to put on the weight. Eliminate this food for 4 weeks to see will it make any difference

Whole fruits rather than fruit juices

You can have fruit, just eat it whole. Squeezing fruits to make juices removes the natural fibres of the fruit, therefore increasing the rate of absorption of the fruit and rising blood sugars. Eating fruits whole keeps the fibre intact and slows down the absorption of the sugar.

Eat regularly, a diverse range of foods

Eat regularly – Consume 3 small meals and 2 snacks a day. This is to ensure blood sugar levels do not fluctuate greatly and ensures a constant supply of energy to the cells.Eat slowly, chew your food slowly. Eat a diverse range of foods. Never skip meals.

Eat some protein with every meal

Eat some protein with every snack and meal – Eating protein with carbohydrate foods slows the release of sugar into the blood stream from the digestive system. High protein foods include fish, meat, eggs, pulses, beans, nuts and seeds. A portion of protein should be the size of a pack of cards.


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About Diabetes Insight

Diabetes Insight is a highly specialised nursing/coaching service providing professional diabetes education, support & intensive lifestyle management  for people living with diabetes as well as their health care professionals. Diabetes Insight is based in Cork, Ireland

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