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Diabetes care in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire

Diet and weight

Information about diet for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Includes information about DAFNE, X-PERT, CarbAware, Weight off your Mind, Eat4Health and referrals to the dietetic service.
Dietitians working in Berkshire West are based in the Community or work from the Melrose House, Diabetes Centre at The Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH).  The Community Dietitians accept referrals for patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who are referred by their GP.  The Dietitians at RBH look after patients who attend the Consultant and insulin pump clinics at Melrose House.

In Berkshire West, it is recommended that all newly diagnosed patients with Type 2 diabetes are referred for Diabetes Education. Berkshire West CCGs offer an education programme for people with Type 2 diabetes called X-PERT across Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire.  This is a 6 week group programme teaching people how to self-manage their diabetes and reduce the need for medication. You can enrol on a course by asking your GP or Practice Nurse.
If after X-PERT you still require help from a dietitian then please ask that you are referred to their service. If you are unable to attend XPERT then it is strongly recommended that you are offered an appointment with a dietitian.
Diabetes UK have an online course about Type 2 diabetes called Type 2 Diabetes and Me
Accessing a Dietitian
Referral to a dietitian can be made at any time to offer help and support if you are struggling to control your weight, failing to achieve good diabetes control, being converted onto insulin or need advice regarding diet and insulin. Referral to a dietitian can be made by your GP or practice nurse via the Health Hub.  For further information regarding the dietitians in West Berkshire visit the Berkshire Healthcare Foundation website

The dietitians have clinics across West Berkshire at the following venues:
  • Reading - 689 Oxford Rd and Whitley Health Centre
  • Newbury – West Berkshire Community Hospital and Hungerford Health Clinic
  • Wokingham – Wokingham Community Hospital
Dietetic clinics are also run in a handful of GP practices.
Weight Management and Diabetes
Nationally, about 80% of Type 2 diabetic patients are overweight (BMI 26 - 30) or obese (BMI over 30). Type 2 diabetic patients who progress to having to use insulin are more at risk of further weight gain and obesity, so it is very important to try and control your weight. If you need extra help and encouragement to lose weight, ask your GP or Practice Nurse to refer you to one of several weight management groups run locally.
Dietitians are highly skilled in the dietary management of diabetes and run their own weight management groups called ‘Weight off Your Mind’.  They will offer you support in losing weight whilst managing your diabetes.  ‘Weight off your Mind’ is run in a variety of venues across West Berkshire with morning, afternoon and evening sessions being available.
In addition, there is a course called 'Eat4Health' which is free to residents of Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire. This is a 10-week course combining information about diet and weight as well as providing an opportunity for gentle exercise. You can self-refer to this course.
Carbohydrate Counting for Type 1
Carbohydrate counting is a method of matching your insulin requirements with the amount of carbohydrate you eat and drink.  For many people with Type 1 diabetes, it is an effective way of managing the condition, which, once mastered, will lead to better blood glucose control and greater flexibility and freedom of lifestyle.  Dietitians play an important role in carbohydrate counting as they teach patients how to identify carbohydrate foods, recognize serving sizes and read food labels to determine the amount of carbohydrate an item contains. An overview from Diabetes UK is available here.

In addition, there is a free to download “
Carbs count” e-book which gives an introduction to carbohydrate counting and insulin dose adjustment.
Locally carbohydrate for people with Type 1 diabetes can be offered through one of the following:
  • CarbAware course -  These are 3-hour courses run at the Diabetes Centre in Reading and in some GP surgeries, supported by Roche. Contact your Diabetes Nurse or GP for more details.
  • DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal eating) – run by a Dietitian and Diabetes Nurse Specialist at Melrose House.  Referrals are limited as the programme is gradually rolled out, and details will become available as they emerge.
You can find out more about DAFNE by visiting their website:

Dietary Advice
Even with having diabetes, you should still be able to enjoy a wide variety of food. A healthy diet that is recommended for the whole population is advised to treat diabetes which includes the following:
  • Eat 3 meals per day:Avoid skipping meals and space out your breakfast, lunch and evening meal over the day. This will not only help control your appetite but will also help control your blood sugar levels.
  • Include starchy carbohydrate foods at each meal:Carbohydrate affect blood glucose levels so be aware how much you eat and try to each carbohydrates that are more slowly absorbed.  Try granary, pumpernickel or rye breads; pasta, basmati or easy cook rice; new potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams; oat based cereals such as porridge or unsweetened muesli.
  • Cut the fat:Avoid foods containing a lot of fat, especially saturated fat. Choose unsaturated fats or oils, especially monounsaturated fats like olive oil and rapeseed oil. Choose lower fat dairy foods such as skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low fat or diet yogurts, reduced fat cheese and lower fat spreads.  Choose lean meat and fish as low fat alternatives to fatty meats. Grill steam or oven bake instead of frying.  Avoid creamy sauces and dressings, choosing tomato-based sauces instead.  As fat is the greatest source of calories, eating less fat will help you to lose weight if you need to.
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables:Aim for at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day in place of foods higher in fat and calories. This will provide you with vitamins, minerals and fibre to help you to balance your overall diet.  One portion is: a banana ; an apple; a handful of grapes; a tablespoon of dried fruit; three heaped tablespoons of vegetables; a cereal bowl of salad.
  • Eat plenty of beans:Beans, lentils and pulses are low in fat and high in fibre.   These have less of an effect on your blood glucose levels and may help to control your cholesterol levels. Try kidney beans, chickpeas, green lentils and baked beans.  They can be added to soups and casseroles or served cold in salads. Aim to have 2 meat-free meals each week.
  • Eat more fish:Oily fish each week such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and pilchards is particularly good for you. They are rich in Omega 3 which helps protect against heart disease.  Aim to eat 2 portions of oily fish per week.
  • Cut back on sugar:Try to cut back on sugar by; choosing sugar free, no added sugar or diet/light drinks; buy canned fruit in juice; reduce or cut out sugar in tea and coffee.
Remember sugary drinks are an excellent treatment for hypos.
  • Reduce your salt:Too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and heart disease. Limit the amount of processed foods you eat which accounts for 70% of our salt intake.  Flavour foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation only:-A maximum of 2 units of alcohol per day for a woman and 3 units per day for a man is recommended. Alcohol contains lots of calories so think about cutting back further if you are trying to lose weight. Never drink on an empty stomach, as alcohol can make hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) more likely to occur when taking certain diabetes medication.
  • Avoid diabetic foods:These offer no benefits to people with diabetes and may still affect blood glucose levels.  They are very expensive and can have a laxative effect.

Other sources of information about healthy eating that you may like to read include:
The Diabetes UK web site has interesting section about food and recipes, including information to help you if you are carbohydrate counting, a guide to menu planning and over 250 calorie counted recipes to try, which have been specially adapted, tasted and nutritionally analysed:

The following leaflet '
Eating well with diabetes' is available from Diabetes UK website.