Eating well with diabetes

The foods in colour contain carbohydrates. They digest into glucose (energy). You can spread these foods across the day to help manage your blood glucose levels.

Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily

One portion is:

1 apple,  banana, pear or orange

A handful of berries or grapes

A tablespoon of dried fruit

3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables

A dessert bowl of salad

150ml glass of pure juice

Eat plenty of vegetables to increase your fibre intake and reduce your risk of other disease. Vegetables and salads can be eaten in unlimited amounts.


Eat some starchy foods

Choose from:

Porridge, bran flakes, wheat biscuits, muesli with no added sugar, granary or seeded bread and new or sweet potatoes.

One portion for a meal is:

2 handfuls of cereal

2 wheat biscuits

Fist–size amount / 100g (4oz) of cooked rice or pasta

Fist-size amount of potato

2 slices of wholegrain bread

1 medium chapatti

Choose healthier carbohydrates

High fibre and wholegrain foods help prevent constipation and keep you full for  longer.

Cut down on foods low in fibre such as white bread and highly processed cereals, for example rice crispies and corn flakes.


Eat 2 to 3 portions of protein daily

1 portion of meat or fish is the size of the palm of the hand.

1 portion of beans/lentils is 3 to 4 tablespoons.

Have 2 portions of oily fish weekly (eg, salmon, mackerel, sardines)

Eat less red and processed meat – choose lean meats or poultry. Remove fat and skin and cook with less fat or oil (e.g. grilling, steaming, baking or slow cooking)


Have 2 to 3 portions of lower fat dairy foods each day

A portion is 200ml (1/3 pint) of milk, 1 small yogurt or a small match box size piece of cheese (30g).

Dairy alternatives include milks or other products, fortified with calcium, made from oat, soya, rice, coconut and nuts e.g. almond and hazelnut.


Oils and spreads

Choose unsaturated fats and use in small amounts e.g. olive oil, vegetable or rapeseed oil.


Reduce foods high in fat, salt, sugar and calories

Eating too much may cause you to gain weight and may mean you eat less of the healthier food.


Foods containing carbohydrates include:

Added  Sugar

Natural Sugars

Starchy Carbohydrates










Plain Yoghurt




Breakfast cereal


Ice Cream

The amount of these foods eaten has the biggest affect on blood  glucose levels. Wholegrain and higher fibre versions of starchy carbohydrates can improve blood glucose control.  These have  a lower glycaemic index (G.I.) and release their glucose more slowly.


Tips for a healthy lifestyle:

  • Enjoy a variety of foods.

  • Aim for 6-8 glasses of fluid. Water, tea and coffee all count.  Limit fruit juice and smoothies to 150ml per day.

  • Cut down on added sugar. Use sugar free drinks e.g. diet/zero/no added sugar.

  • Reduce foods high in fat, sugar and calories. Eat less often and in small amounts e.g. crisps, biscuits, cakes, takeaways, fried foods and pastries.

  • Be smart with snacks. Watch the portion size and choose from natural or low calorie yoghurts, unsalted nuts, seeds, fruits or vegetables.

  • Opt for unsaturated fats or oil, eg olive or rapeseed oil.

  • Aim to use no more than 1 teaspoon of oil per person per meal.

  • Cut down on salt and salty foods – use herbs ands spices to add extra flavour. Check food labels and choose those with less salt.

  • Limit your alcohol intake to 14 units a week. Spread this over a week with 1-2 alcohol free days .  One unit is half a small glass of wine, 25 ml of spirit  or half a pint of standard strength beer.

  • Don’t forget to keep active – it helps to manage your diabetes. Activity encourages your muscles to use glucose and helps your insulin to work more effectively.  Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.

Download and print this information here – please note this leaflet is only suitable to be printed double sided in colour on A3 paper:

Eating Well with Diabetes A3 booklet