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Guide to Diabetes

Balanced Eating

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Traditionally the dietary advice for people with diabetes was centered around cutting out sugar as this was thought to be the key to good diabetes control. However, we now realise that sugar is not the only food choice which can affect blood glucose levels and that we also need to consider how active we are. An imbalance of food and activity can have an effect on our weight. People carrying more weight particularly around the tummy often struggle to achieve good diabetes control as they are more insulin resistant. This means that their insulin does not work as well as it should to lower the blood glucose.


Food intake today is generally higher in fat and sugar than it used to be. This is partly due to food being more readily available; with shops, takeaways and fast food chains open for longer hours and more reliance on convenience foods. Eating habits and cooking methods have changed with many people settling in the UK. For example, the South Asian diet was traditionally a healthy balanced low fat diet; however it now seems to be much higher in fat perhaps due to oil being more available and affordable.

Overall as a nation, activity levels are at an all time low. The use of energy saving devices such as cars, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines has reduced how active we are. These tasks were physical and helped people to stay active and fitter.
The combination of a higher calorie intake and reduced activity has led to more people becoming, overweight and this has directly resulted in more people developing Type 2 diabetes and having difficulty controlling their diabetes.  
Research has shown that 8 out of 10 people with diabetes are overweight. Just 10% weight loss can drastically lower your blood glucose levels as well as improving your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 
See the Managing Your Weight section for further information on how to check if your weight is likely to be impacting on your health and tips on how to lose weight.

The Eat well Plate above helps to represent what a balanced diet looks like. Please see the Proportions section for more information.

Try to follow a balanced eating plan, but also consider which foods influence your blood glucose levels and weight. Speak to your Diabetes Dietitian for more individualised advice.

The Food Groups