Balancing your diet when you are diagnosed with diabetes can be challenging. Although the food choices you make and your eating habits are important in helping you manage your diabetes, you should be able to continue enjoying a wide variety of foods as part of healthy eating. In this section of the site you will find Diabetes UK's database of more than 250 recipes. Calorie-counted dishes have all been adapted, tasted and nutritionally analysed for Diabetes UK.
Cooking with diabetes
There's no need to throw away your favourite cookbooks because you have diabetes. You can modify your recipes by reducing the amount of fat, salt and sugar, and increasing fibre. High sugar and high fat foods do not need to be excluded from your diet altogether if you have diabetes.
The myth that people with diabetes should not eat any sugar still persists, but people with diabetes can eat sugar, but sugar should be limited as part of a healthy diet, good blood glucose control can still be achieved when sugar and sugar containing foods are eaten.
Dietary management of diabetes depends more on eating regularly and including starchy carbohydrate foods like pasta at meals, and including more fruit, vegetables and pulses in your diet. The main thing to consider is the overall balance of your diet - with the emphasis on long-term health and weight control.
General cooking tips
Adapting recipes to be higher in fibre and lower in fat, sugar and salt does involve a bit of trial and error. However, the following tips will be helpful:
- Reduce the fat you use by swapping high fat ingredients for lower fat alternatives.
- Grill, bake, poach, steam, microwave or boil foods
- Use low fat dairy products where possible
- Light crème fraiche is similar to traditional soured cream. It is heat stable and is ideal for use in savoury sauces. It is also delicious served instead of double cream.
- Fromage frais is fresh skimmed cow milk cheese, but is more like a natural yogurt. It is not heat stable and is therefore best used in desserts and dips in place of cream or Greek yogurt.
- Natural yogurt is a versatile and tasty alternative
- When nothing but cream will do, spoon extra thick single cream onto fruit or puddings instead of double cream. Whip up whipping cream rather than double cream for filling cream buns or cakes.
- Use fats and oils which are high in monounsaturates.
- Try using stronger cheese for cooking. You'll find that you won't have to use so much to give it a cheesy flavour. Grated cheese tends to go further too.
- Reduce the salt used in cooking and at the table. Flavour your food with lemon juice, herbs, spices or mustard instead.
- Use pulses such as peas, beans or lentils to replace meat in traditional recipes. They can also be used in soups and salads.
- Experiment by reducing the added sugar in your baking recipes. Most cakes work even if the sugar in the recipe is cut by a half. Fruit cakes, fruit scones or tea breads can be made without added sugar. They do not require sugar and the dried fruit will provide sweetness.
- Jams and marmalades. Ordinary will do or instead of using the traditional ratio of 1lb fruit to 1lb sugar you can reduce this to 1lb fruit to 3/4 lb sugar.
- Cold desserts such as fruit fool and foods that require no further cooking, eg custard, can be sweetened to taste with a liquid or granulated intense sweetener.
- Hot puddings, such as fruit pies, crumbles or bread pudding, can be sweetened with sugar if necessary but some fruit based puddings or puddings with added dried fruit will not require any sweetening at all.
- Sweeteners can be used in cooking and baking - follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- You don't need to adapt your recipes when baking if you only eat cakes at special occasions such as birthdays.