Catering for people with diabetes

The information on this page is intended to illustrate how you can best cater for people with diabetes, whether they are coming for dinner, or to stay for a few days. The information is about people with diabetes in general but it is important to remember that everyone with diabetes has individual dietary requirements and treatment plan – and some people may like to stray a little from their usual eating habits when away from home.

Just like everyone else, the occasional high fat or high sugar food can be included as part of a healthy diet. It may therefore be an idea to have a chat with the person with diabetes before they come, to see if they have any specific needs, or to discuss the meal(s) you have planned.

What to provide, meal by meal

Include the following in the choices available:

  • High fibre cereals such as Branflakes, Fruit and Fibre, no added sugar muesli, Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, porridge.
  • Low fat spread or polyunsaturated/monounsaturated margarine as well as butter.
  • Semi-skimmed/skimmed milk as well as full cream milk.
  • Unsweetened fruit juice.
  • Fruit, eg grapefruit in natural juice and not syrup.
  • Reduced sugar jam/marmalade or pure fruit spreads as well as ordinary versions (NOT ‘diabetic’ jams).
  • Artificial sweeteners, eg Canderel, Hermesetas or Sweetex as well as sugar for tea and coffee. Granulated artificial sweeteners can be used for cereals and for use in recipes, eg Canderel Spoonful.
  • A selection of wholemeal and granary breads or rolls as well as white.
  • If cooked breakfasts are planned, food should be grilled not fried where possible.


Have plenty of starchy carbohydrate foods available. If possible let the person with diabetes help themselves as they will know how much they will need (buffets are often a good idea to allow this). It’s a good idea to have bread already on the table as people requiring insulin may have given their insulin injection and therefore will need some carbohydrate within half an hour of their injection.

  • Have a variety of dishes from which people can choose.
  • People with diabetes need meals including carbohydrates, such as potatoes, pasta or rice.
  • Try to provide low fat/low calorie options, eg new potatoes as well as fried.
  • Provide extra vegetables and salad.
  • Serve butter, mayonnaise or dressings separately so that people can choose whether to have it or not.
  • Provide vegetarian options.
  • Serve cream and rich sauces separately so that people can choose whether to add it or not.
  • Provide low sugar desserts, ice-cream, fresh fruit or low fat yogurts as an alternative choice to ordinary.
  • Water should be available on the table.

People with diabetes are encouraged to spread their food intake evenly throughout the day for good blood glucose control and snacks mid morning, mid afternoon and bedtime may be part of their eating plan.

  • Suitable snacks are:
  • Fruit – fresh or dried.
  • Plain biscuits, eg garibaldi, rich tea, gingernuts, digestives, hob nobs.
  • Bread or toast, muffins, crumpets, teabreads, plain or fruit cakes and cereals.
  • Low fat yogurt.

It is important that a selection of sugar-free drinks and mixers, such as diet cola and slimline tonic, are available. You will use more of these sugar-free drinks than you would usually.