Diabetes Diet

Find help on diabetes diet and diabetes advice for weight loss and weight control with Diet Freedom. The low GL (Glycaemic Load) diet is effective for weight loss and diabetes control.

Low GL Diet for Diabetes Control

Diet Freedom's aim is to help to promote the many benefits of eating a healthy diet and how best to avoid diabetes and its serious complications. We have many members who are diabetic and finding the proven low GL diet effective for weight loss and in helping to balance their blood sugar levels. Deborah (co-founder) also has a diabetic husband.

Read just a few of our Diabetes testimonials from Diet Freedom members.

Do you Measure Up?

Current estimations suggest that up to 700,000 people in the UK have diabetes but don’t yet know it - you could be one of them.

Diabetes is serious. If left untreated it can lead to blindness, kidney disease, heart attacks and other life-threatening complications. But the good news is that if you spot your diabetes early you can greatly reduce the risk of serious health damage. 

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Be inspired

It’s important to know that diabetes, though a challenge, is not something that needs to ruin your life. And it’s certainly not an excuse to ‘take it easy.’ Before we go into the details, we’d like you to be inspired for a moment by some of the well known people who have diabetes and have achieved extraordinary things in their lives …

  • Sir Steve Redgrave - an inspirational Olympian whose diabetes is well documented. In September 2000, he became the first man in history to win five consecutive Olympic gold medals in an endurance sport
  • Arthur Ashe - Famous tennis hero and winner of Wimbledon in 1975
  • Joe Frazer - One of the greatest boxers of all time
  • Wasim Akram - Pakistan’s leading fast bowler has been playing cricket on the international circuit for more than 10 years and is among the fittest cricketers in the world
  • Halle Berry - A-list actress and first black woman to win the Best Actress Oscar
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What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body can’t use it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, chapattis, yams and plantain, from sugar and other sweet foods, and from the liver which makes glucose.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas which allows glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel by the body.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes develops if the body cannot produce any insulin and usually affects people under 40. It is treated with insulin injections, diet and regular physical activity.
  • Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly. This type of diabetes is usually found in people aged over 40, though in South Asian and African people it often appears after the age of 25.

Recently more children are being diagnosed, some as young as seven. This is due, it is believed, to the rising level of childhood obesity and inactvity. Type 2 is treated by diet and physical activity alone or by diet, physical activity and tablets and / or insulin.
2014 stats show that over 3 million people in the UK have diabetes and it’s estimated that 630,000 or more have the condition but don’t know it.

If you think you may have diabetes – because you are at risk and / or have the symptoms – it is vital you take steps now and ask your doctor for a simple blood test.

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The symptoms

The symptoms of untreated diabetes will usually be very obvious in people with Type 1 diabetes but not so clear or non-existent in people with Type 2 diabetes. If you’re older you may put the symptoms down to ‘getting on a bit.’ Taking early action is key so if any of the following apply to you, ask your GP for a diabetes test:

  • Increased thirst
  • Going to the loo (for a wee) all the time – especially at night
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • Slow healing of wounds
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The risk factors

If you are white and over 40, or if you’re black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group and over 25 and have one or more of the following risk factors, you should ask your GP for a test for diabetes:

  • A close member of your family has Type 2 diabetes (parent or brother or sister)
  • You’re overweight or if your waist is 31.5 inches or over for women; 35 inches or over for Asian men and 37 inches or over for white and black men
  • You have high blood pressure or you’ve had a heart attack or a stroke
  • You’re a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome and you are overweight
  • You’ve been told you have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glycaemia
  • If you’re a woman and you’ve had gestational diabetes
  • You have severe mental health problems

The more risk factors that apply to you the greater your risk of having diabetes.

Your age: You’re at risk of diabetes if you’re over 40 or you’re over 25 and black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group. The risk also rises with age so the older you get the more at risk you are.

The family: Having diabetes in the family puts you at risk. The closer the relative is, the greater the risk. So if your mum or dad has diabetes, rather than your aunt or uncle, it’s more likely you will develop the condition too.

Ethnicity: African-Caribbean or South Asian people who live in the UK are at least five times more likely to have diabetes than the white population.

Your weight: Not all people with diabetes are over weight but the stats show that over 80 per cent of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are overweight. The more overweight and the more inactive you are the greater your risk. If you don’t know whether you’re overweight, ask your GP to measure your BMI. (You can also use the BMI calculator on this website.)

Waist circumference: Women – if your waist measures 31.5in (80cm) or more you’ve got an increased risk. Men – if you’re white or black and your waist is 37in (94cm) or more you have an increased risk of developing diabetes; if you’re an Asian man the figure is 35in (90cm) or more.

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Other factors

If you’ve been diagnosed with any problems with your circulation, had a heart attack or stroke, or if you’ve got high blood pressure you may be at an increased risk of diabetes.
Pregnant women can develop a temporary type of diabetes – gestational diabetes. Having this – or giving birth to a large baby – can increase the risk of a woman going on to develop diabetes in the future.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome who are overweight are at an increased risk of developing diabetes.

If you’ve been told you have either impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) it means the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood is higher than normal but you don’t have diabetes and you should follow a healthy diet, lose weight if you need to and keep active, to help yourself prevent diabetes. But make sure you’re regularly tested for diabetes.
Other conditions such as raised triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and severe mental health problems can also increase your risk.

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What makes diabetes so serious is that if uncontrolled, the condition can affect other parts of the body, and lead to:

  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Nerve damage that may lead to amputations.

The good news is that you can reduce the risk of developing complications by getting diagnosed as early as possible.

Many people with Type 2 diabetes may not have developed or recognised their symptoms, so when eventually diagnosed, they may have had diabetes for about nine years and started to develop some of the long term complications of diabetes. The main aim of treatment is to achieve blood glucose, blood fat and blood pressure levels as near normal as possible.

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What diabetes care to expect

Being diagnosed can be scary, but you can live a normal life – remember our list of inspirational people!

If you are diagnosed, your GP should refer you to various healthcare professionals and organise a full medical examination. This will be followed up with a programme of care that suits you, including education sessions and an annual medical review.

Remember, you can lead a full and healthy life with diabetes

For more information and support in the UK and Europe:
Call the Diabetes UK Careline: 0845 120 2960
Calls cost no more than 4p per minute or call the switchboard on 020 7424 1000 and ask to be transferred. Text phone 020 7424 1031

Email: careline@diabetes.org.uk

Diabetes UK Careline can provide information and support by telephone, email and letter, although they are unable to provide individual medical advice. There is an interpretation service for people whose first language is not English.

Visit the Diabetes UK website: www.diabetes.org.uk

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Become a member of Diabetes UK

Membership helps people with diabetes to understand and manage their condition. Their bi-monthly members’ magazine Balance is packed with news and information on living with diabetes and research into the condition.

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About Diabetes UK

Diabetes UK is the charity for people with diabetes, their family, friends and carers.
Their mission is to improve the lives of people with the condition and work towards a future without diabetes.

Diabetes UK also provide:

  • Diabetes UK Services including insurance and financial products that are designed to meet the needs of people with diabetes.
  • Diabetes UK voluntary groups across the country, offering support and the chance to meet other local people with diabetes.
  • Volunteering opportunities to get involved in supporting their work, from fundraising to campaigning for improved local diabetes services.
  • Support events and holidays that allow children, adults and families to meet, share and learn with other people living with diabetes.

All of this and more is made possible through donations and by people being members of Diabetes UK.

Make a donation
Telephone 020 7424 1010 or visit www.diabetes.org.uk/donate

Further contact details:

Diabetes UK
The Charity for people with Diabetes
10 Parkway, London NW1 7AA
Telephone: 020 7424 1000
Fax: 020 7424 1001
Email: info@diabetes.org.uk
Website: www.diabetes.org.uk
Registered charity no. 215199

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Diabetes Testimonials

I was only 34 when diagnosed 9 years ago (oops, just gave my age away), and it was a real shocker. It didn't help that all the literature said that T2 affects people over 40. But then I was (and am!) very obese - at that point I was 21 stone. I did succeed in losing some weight, but was always struggling with what to eat and yo-yoing. Emotional/comfort eating has always been a big problem for me, and unfortunately that doesn't go away just because you've got a health problem that needs attention to diet.

Over the last year or two I've piled on a lot of weight, reaching a new high of nearly 22 stone. I started GL eating in May, and so far have lost just over a stone. GL is really good for controlling blood glucose (my levels always drop within a few days of cutting my GL's) - and the diet which DF recommends also has a positive impact on other things that people with diabetes often have trouble with, like lipid profiles and blood pressure.
Hope you enjoy it - low GL eating can be really delicious!

Barbara, Diet Freedom member

Hi, my name is Kate and I had a big row from my GP for not controlling my diabetes. So I went on to the diabetes UK website and they directed me here. I looked at the eating plan and thought, well I'll try this and see if it does any good. The result - my blood sugar is returning to normal and without even trying I've lost 9lbs in a fortnight - only know that cos GP makes me get weighed when I go to see her. Never felt hungry and I've even had some 70% cocoa chocolate.
Kate, Diet Freedom member

I am diabetic (type 1) and have found following Diet Freedom's low GL diet has really helped me to lose weight and balance my blood sugar levels. I don't feel deprived at all on the plan - far from it - it is just excellent guidance given in a very friendly, non preachy way. I highly recommend it to any diabetics who struggle to know what to eat.
Keith Ellis, Diet Freedom member

I'm a newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetic and I'm finding this eating style is keeping my blood sugars nice and stable. I love chocolate too, I have a small bar of Green & Blacks in the fridge, but what others have said about the cravings going away is true - I've barely touched the bar. It's all about changing your definition of a treat, I guess. I love the Organix fruit puree pots as a sweet snack, or carrots with a portion of philadelphia cheese as a savoury one. I've found my taste buds have sharpened and I really notice the taste of everything now.
Nicky, Diet Freedom member

After years of trying different diets - and none of them working - I have finally found the right one. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure last year and almost diabetic, I was told to try the GI Diet. It sort of worked but because I have a very busy life, I didn't have time for lots of cooking, and so of course, the GI diet went the same way as the others! Now that I have found you, the brilliant GL diet with gorgeous tasty (quick) recipes, I have no excuse. My husband is also on it with me and together we have lost weight in only two weeks. I would also like to say thank you for including lots of vegetarian recipes (we are both veggies). I have to go now to buy us some new clothes in smaller sizes!!
Alicat, Diet Freedom member

I have been diabetic (insulin dependent type 2) for 11 years, and found managing both my sugars and weight to be time-consuming and sometimes very difficult. Using the GL, as explained in Diet Freedom's books, has helped a lot. My (blood) sugars are under far better control than they were before, my weight loss has been dramatic, having lost 7 stone. I am now more motivated to exercise, and am finding that both my energy levels and mood are very positively affected when sticking to the low-GL plan. It is also an easy plan to follow. Dieting has always been a trial, a real pain! But this is simple and gives me the freedom to eat very well and still get healthier. As a great side effect, I need to use about half of the insulin each day that I did before so my Doctor is very pleased.
Gary, London

I went to a 65th birthday party yesterday and my host, a diabetic, eats all the kinds of foods you recommend (and I love) and which, of course, form the basis of good GL. The table was groaning with food, but I’ve never come home from a party feeling more virtuous, yet perfectly satisfied that I’d had a great time and – really – eaten all I wanted. So, thank you again. It feels inadequate to say just that, but I’ve run out of superlatives. Love
Pam, Diet Freedom member

This way of eating is a real help to me it has been a difficult year - the diabetes was no surprise really.
Ann, Diet Freedom member

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