Staying healthy if you have type 2 diabetes
A healthy diet and keeping active will help you manage your blood sugar level.
It'll also help you control your weight and generally feel better.
You can eat many types of foods
There's nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you'll have to limit certain foods.
- eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta
- keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum
- eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals
If you need to change your diet, it might be easier to make small changes every week.
Information about food can be found on these diabetes sites:
- food for people with diabetes
- tips on eating with your family and eating out
- recipes for people with diabetes
- food and nutrition message board
You should go for a regular diabetes check-up once a year to make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol (blood fats) are OK.
Help with changing your diet
If you find it hard to change your diet, a dietitian might be able to help.
Talk to your GP or diabetes nurse to see if the cost could be covered through the NHS.
Being active lowers your blood sugar level
Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level. You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week.
You can be active anywhere as long as what you're doing gets you out of breath.
This could be:
- fast walking
- climbing stairs
- doing more strenuous housework or gardening
The charity Diabetes UK has tips on how to get active.
Your weight is important
Losing weight (if you're overweight) will make it easier for your body to lower your blood sugar level, and can improve your blood pressure and cholesterol.
To know whether you're overweight, work out your body mass index (BMI).
If you need to lose weight, it is recommended for most people to do it slowly over time. Aim for around 0.5 to 1kg a week.
The charity Diabetes UK has more information on healthy weight and weight loss.
There is evidence that eating a low-calorie diet (800 to 1,200 calories a day) on a short-term basis (around 12 weeks) can help with symptoms of type 2 diabetes. And some people have found that their symptoms go into remission.
A low-calorie diet is not safe or suitable for everyone with type 2 diabetes, such as people who need to take insulin. So it is important to get medical advice before going on this type of diet.
Diabetes UK has more information on low-calorie diets.
Page last reviewed: 18 August 2020
Next review due: 18 August 2023