Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood is too high. When we eat, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin into the bloodstream. The food we eat is digested and sugar from the food is absorbed into the bloodstream. The insulin takes the sugar from the blood to other parts of the body where it can be used or stored as energy. People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin, or the insulin they do produce does not work properly. As a result, the level of sugar in the blood can become too high.
There are two types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or it does not produce any insulin at all. It is treated with insulin injections and by following a healthy diet and taking regular exercise.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the insulin that it does produce does not work properly. Following a healthy diet and taking regular exercise are the main approaches in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but some people may still need to take tablets or insulin injections.
Around 4.5% of the UK population has diabetes, which is about 2.9 million people. The dietary advice for people with diabetes is to reach and maintain a healthy weight and follow a healthy balanced diet, the same advice that is given to the rest of the population.
Catering for People with Diabetes
Although a healthy balanced diet is key for people with diabetes, no foods are excluded or restricted and some people may want to stray from their usual eating habits when eating out. However, menu choices that are or can be adapted to be lower in fat and sugar and rich in fruit and vegetables can make it easier for people with diabetes to follow a healthy diet when they eat outside of the home.
It is not recommended for people to buy foods specifically made for people with diabetes because they can be expensive and can cause a laxative effect if eaten in excess. Labelling foods as ‘suitable for diabetics’ undermines the important messages about healthy eating. If people do eat foods and drinks containing added sugars they should do so sparingly, as part of a healthy balanced diet. This advice applies to everyone, not just people with diabetes. Since healthy eating advice is essentially the same for people with diabetes as it is for other people, the idea of special ‘diabetic’ foods is out of date. Therefore, caterers must offer healthier choices within their menus.
Please visit Diabetes UK for more information