What should I eat to reduce my diabetes risk?

Heart-healthy diet

I had a heart attack last year. At a recent check-up I was told that my blood sugar levels are quite high and that I should improve my diet as I could be at risk of diabetes. I cut out most sugary foods after my heart attack. What else can I do?

BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor says:

Sugar doesn’t directly cause type 2 diabetes, but too much sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity. When it comes to lowering your risk of diabetes, it’s important to consider your whole diet and your lifestyle.

When it comes to lowering your risk of diabetes, it’s important to consider your whole diet and your lifestyle

You mention that you changed your diet following your heart attack, but you don’t mention if your weight is within the normal range. Being overweight or obese puts you at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even if your diet is healthy, eating too much will lead to weight gain. 

Keep a detailed food diary (type of food, quantities, how it was cooked). You can do this with some paper and a pen or using an app. Do it for at least three days (perhaps two weekdays and a weekend day). It can help you pay more attention to what you consume and spot areas for improvement.

You could also ask your GP to refer you to a registered dietitian. Take your food diary with you to make the most of the consultation. The dietitian will be able to go through your diet with you and give you tailored advice if there are additional changes that might help, or reassure you if you’re already doing all you can.

Victoria TaylorMeet the expert

Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with 20 years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. She leads the BHF's work on nutrition.

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