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The low FODMAP diet and diabetes

The low FODMAP diet and diabetes

by FoodMaestro | 15 June 2016

By: Hannah Hunter, a HCPC registered dietitian trained in FODMAPs at King's College London

Avoiding FODMAPs at the same time as following another special diet, such as for diabetes, can be a challenge. In actual fact, there is no such thing as a “diabetic diet” and most people with diabetes are generally recommended to follow a healthy balanced diet.

There are some key healthy eating rules to follow when you have diabetes and with careful planning you can easily adapt your low FODMAP diet to match up with these. We have highlighted the most important points to remember below, as well as tips on how to maintain these whilst avoiding FODMAPs. 

1. Plan regular meals

A key rule when you have diabetes is to ensure you have regular meals to ensure that your blood glucose levels remain stable. Planning meals in advance is the key to success on the low FODMAP diet and this becomes more important with diabetes. It can be challenging finding suitable and healthy food options particularly when you are away from home, so preparing food in advance to take with you is often helpful. If you need to snack between meals then plan healthy options, such as fruit, lactose free yoghurt, popcorn or rice cakes. 

2. Base your meals around low FODMAP carbohydrates

Another recommendation for healthy eating with diabetes is to eat regular starchy carbohydrates. Adapting to a low FODMAP diet means ensuring that the carbohydrate sources that you choose suitable options, for instance rice, potatoes, oats and wheat free bread. The FoodMaestro  “Look Up Tables” in the Stage 1 section of the app are a useful reminder of which options to choose. Avoiding large portions of these carbohydrates will help to prevent spikes in blood glucose, as well as choosing more slow-release carbohydrates such as new potatoes in skins, sweet potatoes, long grain/ brown/ basmati rice, and oats. It is also important to include regular vegetables as part of your meals.

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3. Limit high sugar foods

Sugary foods will cause blood glucose levels to rise more rapidly and should therefore be limited.  Some obvious sources of sugar are soft drinks, sweets, cakes and biscuits but other sources may be less obvious, such as sauces, cereals and gluten free products. FoodMaestro signposts the sugar content of foods by showing the teaspoons contained in 100g of each product. If a food has one teaspoon or less, then this is a low sugar food (less than 5g per 100g) whereas if it has more than 4.5 teaspoons (22.5g/ 100g) then this is a high sugar food.

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4.Include regular low FODMAP fruit

Although it is a source of sugar, it is important to include two or three portions of fruit as part of a healthy diet. Fortunately there are many low FODMAP options, such as oranges, bananas, strawberries and grapes. The FODMAP by FM app Look Up Tables are a useful reminder of which fruits to choose and in which portion sizes. It is important to space out your portions of fruit, as larger amounts contain excess fructose and are therefore high FODMAP.  Limit your servings of fruit juice or smoothies to 100ml and dried fruit to 13g (one tablespoon), as these are a concentrated source of fructose.

Seek specialist advice

It is always important to consult with your doctor before embarking on the low FODMAP diet and this is particularly true if you have another condition such as diabetes. It may be that this diet is not suitable for you or there may be special considerations if you are taking certain medications. Speak to your GP or diabetes team for individual advice and if possible seek guidance from a specialist dietitian to ensure that you have the best chance of succeeding. 

For more information about healthy eating with diabetes, we recommend visiting the Diabetes UK website