JDP Manager Matt Williams gives you his top tips to help reduce your diabetes risk.

Making a few easy changes to your diet today could have a big impact on your risk.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Eating a balanced, healthy diet plays an important role in reducing your risk. Matching the amount of calories in the food you eat with the amount of energy you use through daily activity is key to maintaining a healthy weight.

How to do it

The most successful and sustainable way to lose weight, if you need to, is to serve slightly smaller portions. Fill up on fruit, veg, salad and high-fibre wholegrains, limit calorie-rich foods and drinks, such as cakes, biscuits, crisps and chocolate. Swap sugary drinks for sugar-free, calorie-free ones.

Limit sugars and make the swap

As well as being found in obviously sweet foods and drinks, such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks, added sugars can be found in a number of apparently innocent-sounding foods, too, such as cereals, soups, ready-made sauces and yogurts. There’s no evidence that a high intake of sugars in itself causes type 2 diabetes, but there is evidence that sugars are linked to high calorie intakes and excessive weight gain – and this is a risk factor for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

How to do it

Read food labels. You don’t have to cut out all sugary foods and drinks, but be aware of where the extra calories may be coming from and swap some out of your diet. For example, add lemon slices or cucumber to cold water instead of having a sugary drink.

Eat as if you live in the Med

Up the fish, nuts and healthy oils in your diet. Recent findings show you could reduce your risk of diabetes if you eat a diet high in vegetables, oil-rich fish (such as trout, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna), wholegrains, nuts and olive oil, and low in red meat and sugary cakes.

Personal Training, Liverpool Street

How to do it

Eat fish twice a week, including one oil-rich portion, to increase your intake of omega-3 fats, which help keep your heart healthy.

Go plant-based

Base meals around vegetables, so they make up at least a third of your plate. Eat a variety of colours, too, to get all their different health benefits.

How to do it 

Pop a new type of vegetable into your trolley each week to use in stir-fries and curries.

Reduce your salt intake

Have no more than 6g salt a day. Too much can raise your blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke (people with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of these). Stop adding it in cooking or at the table and cut back on processed foods, which account for around three-quarters of the salt in our diet.

How to do it

Get into the habit of flavouring food with herbs and spices instead of salt. Your tastebuds will soon adjust.

Eat plenty of beans

Make room for these inexpensive ingredients. Beans and lentils are all low in fat and high in fibre – particularly soluble fibre, which helps to control blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

How to do it

Add beans, chickpeas or green lentils to soups, stews, casseroles, salads and curries such as dahl. You can make them into falafels and bean burgers, too. By bulking out dishes with beans, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of meat you eat.

*Weight-loss results will vary and are down to your individual circumstances and the amount of weight you have to lose.

Here are our quick fire Breakfast, Lunch and Snack Swap Outs.

Quick breakfast tips:

  • Switch from white toast to wholegrain versions like seeded batch bread, multi-seed, granary, soya and linseed. These are better for your diabetes and digestive health. They’re more filling, too.
  • If you’re making rotis and chapattis, use wholewheat flour.
  • Instead of jam, try pure fruit spread or mashed banana. Other healthy choices are low-fat cheese, cottage cheese with a couple of fresh chopped dates, or almond butter and chopped banana.
  • Try to keep croissants, pastries and muffins, as an ocassional treat. Even skinny muffins are high in sugar and fat.
  • Use as little oil as possible when cooking. Cook with unsaturated vegetable oils, such as sunflower, olive or rapeseed, instead of butter or ghee.
  • Add extra fruit and veg to bump up your fibre intake wherever you can. Add half a banana to your cereal,or grilled tomatoes to a fried breakfast.
  • When you have a bit of time to spare, try making this breakfast crostini. Everyone can tuck in!
  • Choose roasted mudhi or chuda (puffed rice) with vegetables, instead of chudha upma with oil.
  • Try dry roasted methi paratha instead of aloo paratha.
  • Try rice, besan or oat cheela with dry fried vegetables.
Personal Trainer, Liverpool Street

Personal Training, Liverpool Street

Lunches on the go

Whether you take your lunch to work or eat on the go, here are some top swaps and ideas for healthy, balanced lunches.

  • Swap a canned drink for a diet version and save around six tsp sugar.
  • Cut back on fat by choosing baked crisps as a healthier alternative to fried.
  • Choose a two-finger chocolate wafer biscuit, rather than a standard chocolate bar, and save on both fat and calories.
  • Try a ham salad sandwich instead of a club sandwich to save 135Kcal and 16g of fat. Make your own and cut out even more fat by using less spread.
  • Open sandwiches reduce calories and fat by using half the amount of bread.
  • Pop a variety of breads in the freezer so you can vary your lunchtime meals. Bulk out wraps, bagels and sandwiches with salad veg. To add crunch, add a few chopped nuts or seeds.
  • Pack a few bread sticks, carrot batons, sticks of cucumber, peppers and reduced-fat hummus for a tasty snack. That way you won’t be tempted to reach for the office biscuits.
  • Fruit is always a good idea for desserts. Try different types to add variety to your lunch. Bring in a few and keep on your desk to help you meet your five a day.
  • As an occasional treat malt loaf, a slice of fruit loaf, scone or teacake could be enjoyed particularly if you know you will be active and do not need to lose weight. These are healthier options compared to chocolate, biscuits and sweets. However if you want to lose weight take into account the extra calories they contain and adjust your diet during the rest of your day accordingly.

Snack swaps


  • Instead of crisps, try plain popcorn with added spices or cinnamon
  • Instead of bread and dips, try carrots and celery with salsa or low-fat hummus


  • Instead of milk chocolate, try dark chocolate rice cakes
  • Instead of ice cream, try frozen banana or low-fat frozen yogurt


  • Instead of fizzy sugary drinks, try water flavoured with mint or fresh fruit

author: Matt Williams


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