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Dealing with Diabetes - Food Optimizing fits!

Many people contact us to ask if Food Optimizing will fit in with their diabetes – the answer is a resounding YES! Not only will it fit around the disease – many members tell us that it has helped control it.

“At my heaviest weight I’d been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and the condition was steadily worsening. After losing 85lbs with Slimming World my confidence and physical health have improved dramatically and I feel great. My doctor has even reduced my diabetes medication – she told me that I’m the only person in her diabetes clinic to have their medication reduced. I’m hoping that it can stop altogether eventually!”
Barrie Walters

"I’d been controlling my type 2 diabetes for several years using medication. When I went to a routine appointment at my local diabetes clinic however, my doctor told me he was worried that I might need to start needing to use insulin.

Part of my condition meant that I experienced lows from my diabetes, where I’d feel light headed and would start sweating. After joining Slimming World and losing 85lbs I experienced my last low nearly a year ago and took my last pill - my diabetes is now controlled by my diet alone! My doctor is amazed. He’d never heard of someone with diabetes at my level changing their condition so drastically purely through diet."
John Ritchie

how can Food Optimizing help?

Because Food Optimizing is extremely generous and flexible, and puts you in control of the foods you eat and when you eat them, it is easy to fit in with any personal advice on diet that your diabetes care team gives you. Taking insulin or other medication need not be a barrier to losing weight; our research shows that Slimming World members with diabetes lose weight as successfully as other members.

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse and the American Diabetes Association, recommends a number of steps to healthy eating, which can help control your blood glucose levels and cholesterol as well as regulate your weight.

Here is how Food Optimizing helps you take those steps easily and enjoyably to achieve your goals:

1. Eat regular meals each day

Aiming not to skip meals but eating a regular breakfast, lunch, evening meal, and healthy snacks when you need them, helps control your blood glucose level and appetite. The flexibility of Food Optimizing means you can choose when and what you want to eat making it easy to meet your individual needs.

2. Enjoy starchy, carbohydrate-rich foods at each meal and choose whole grain where you can

Food Optimizing makes it easy to include starchy carbohydrates at each mealtime. Pasta, potatoes, rice, and beans are Free Foods, which means you decide how much you want to eat and when you want to eat it to fit in with your diabetes meal plan*. Whole wheat bread and wholegrain cereals are Healthy Extras, so you can enjoy them every day if you wish. Filling up on fiber-rich foods is great for weight loss because they help keep you feeling fuller for longer and are low in energy density, which means they help keep hunger at bay without piling on the calories.

3. Easy ways to eat less saturated fat and trans fat

When you are Food Optimizing you automatically reduce your fat intake:

  • high-fat foods are counted as Syns, so they are limited, but oily fish is a Free Food and olive oil is a Healthy Extra, both are rich in 'good' fats and are recommended for people with diabetes. 
  • you are encouraged to choose non-fat versions of dairy produce, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • trim off fat from meat and remove skin (the lovely high-fat bit) from poultry
  • cook using healthy, fat-free methods such as broiling, steaming or baking instead of frying.

4. Fill up on fruit and vegetables

The American Diabetes Association recommend people with diabetes fill half their plate with non-starchy vegetables like green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and green salad vegetables. With Food Optimizing you can eat as many vegetables as you wish*. This is because fruit and vegetables are super-healthy, low-energy dense foods to fill up on. All fruit and vegetables, fresh or frozen, are Free Foods so you can keeps the fruit bowl full and pile your plate with vegetables at every meal.

5. Include more oily fish

It is recommended that you aim to eat two or three portions of non-fried oily fish a week, such as mackerel, herring, salmon, and sardines. Rich in healthy polyunsaturated fats, oily fish are Free Food when Food Optimizing**.

6. Easy ways to eat less sugar

Like high-fat foods, sugary foods count as Syns and so are automatically limited when you are Food Optimizing. But there's no need to go without sweet tea or sodas: sugar substitutes are Free Foods and can be used in drinks and in cooking; low calorie sodas and sugar free soft drink mixes are also Free Foods.

7. Keep an eye on salt

It is easy to monitor your salt intake when you’re Food Optimizing because you are encouraged to prepare meals using fresh foods, rather than eating a lot of ready-made and convenience dishes. Herbs, spices and garlic are all Free Foods.

8. Keep an eye on alcohol

All alcohol counts as Syns, so it's naturally limited when you are Food Optimizing. A small glass of wine or a 7 fl oz of beer both have around 5 Syns, so with a typical daily allowance of 10 Syns, you can enjoy one or two drinks a day if that is how you like to use them and if it fits with your diabetes meal plan.

The ADA advise that you never drink on an empty stomach if you have diabetes. However, that's never a problem when you're with Slimming World as there are always Free Food snacks to fill up on.


We recommend that you talk to your diabetes care team about Food Optimizing. This is especially important if you are taking insulin or other diabetes medication as doses may need adjusting as you lose weight.

If you have diabetes it is vital that you always follow the advice given by your health care team and continue to follow your diabetes meal plan, specific to your personal needs. If you don’t have a diabetes meal plan please talk to your doctor and/or dietitian who will help you create one that suits your needs, routine and any medication you take.

Slimming World has joined the fight to Stop Diabetes and signed on as a National Sponsor for the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes is a deadly disease that currently affects nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States.Yvonne Sanders, Slimming World’s Business Development Manager, says: 

Type 2 diabetes and obesity go hand-in-hand. Slimming World looks forward to working together with the American Diabetes Association and combating this epidemic through several exciting projects. We are excited to be part of this collaboration, to help do our part in stemming the rising costs of this epidemic and to ultimately Stop Diabetes.


For more information on all aspects of diabetes, check out:

*NB: You may be given be given specific advice from your health care team on the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods or fruit to eat. It is important to bear this in mind when choosing your Free Foods and considering how they fit into your diabetes meal plan.

**NB: The Food & Drugs Administration advise women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children to limit consumption of fish and shellfish to no more than 12oz per week.

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