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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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How to choose your meal plan

Before using one of our meal plans, you need to find out which one is right for you. Our advice is to ask your healthcare professional team to help you.

There are many factors to think about before starting any weight-loss plan, for example your gender, current weight and, of course, how losing weight will affect your diabetes management. Once you've decided on a plan, you can read them online or download a PDF.

Which meal plan should I follow?

According to research, if you follow a diet that has a 600 calories less than you need to stay the same weight, you can lose 1lb a week. Your weight, body composition and activity levels will influence your individual requirements. Men need more calories than women because they have more muscle and are generally heavier.

The average woman will need approximately 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day and the average man approximately 1,500 to 1,800 per day. You may require more if you have a lot to lose, or are very active.

Losing weight is difficult, but our six unique meal plans for adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can help. We've included vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and each one has been nutritionally balanced to ensure you consume the correct amounts of dairy (calcium), wholegrain foods, oily fish (if applicable) and very little processed meat.

On insulin or medication?

If you treat your diabetes with insulin, or any medication that puts you at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels), you may need to alter the amount you are taking when you start the diet. You'll be cutting down your portion sizes, including the amount of carbs, which can increase your risk of hypoglycaemia. As you lose weight, you will probably need to adjust your insulin and diabetes medication too. Your healthcare professional is the best person to advise you on how to do this safely.

Eight tips for using the meal plans

  1. Planning is the key to success. Make sure you have all the ingredients for the week in your cupboards before you start.
  2. You may feel hungry on the meal plans initially, as your body gets used to less food. A good way to avoid this is to pile your plate with plenty of veggies. They are low in calories, add to your five-a-day and keep you fuller for longer. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water or low-calorie drinks, such as no-added-sugar squashes.
  3. Using smaller serving plates, bowls and glasses can be helpful. It will make it appear there is more food on your plate.
  4. If you live by yourself, or don’t have the time or inclination to cook, you can swap the recipe suggestions for a shop bought calorie-controlled meal. Check the label to make sure it has the same calories as the meals listed here. Some recipes can be frozen, which means you can freeze any leftover portions.
  5. As long as the calorie content is similar, you can switch around the meal and snack suggestions for the week. If you’re not keen on Tuesday’s lunch ideas, why not swap it for a meal from another day?
  6. Don't forget to include extras, such as sauces. They can add a lot of calories, sugar and fat to your overall calorie content. For example: 1 tbsp tomato sauce contains: 15 cals; 3.5g carbs; 3.5g fat. 1 tbsp light mayonnaise contains: 35 cals; 0.9g carbs; 3.9g fat. 1 tbsp brown sauce contains: 8 cals; 4.2g carbs; trace fat.
  7. Only weigh yourself once a week at the same time of day, wearing similar clothes. Keep a log of your weight loss, which will give your healthcare team the information they need to see if your medication needs adjusting. It can also be more motivating than weighing yourself every day.
  8. Finally, try to get the family involved, so you’re not having to cook separate meals. Remember though, their calorie and nutritional needs will be different to yours, so they may need different portion sizes.
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