Choosing food for diabetes in hospital

Whilst you are free to choose any of the options from the hospital menu, it is worth noting that the menu is coded ❤ for healthy eating. These options will be the best choices for those with diabetes or those who are aiming to eat a healthy diet. These choices will be lower in fat and sugar than other menu options


The lower fat/ lower sugar options are usually fruit /yoghurts/cheese and biscuits or milk puddings +/- tinned fruit

Fruit / yoghurts/cheese and biscuits/ tinned fruit do not routinely appear on the menu but all these options available from the ward kitchen. You will need to request these from one of the ward nurses


Some people with diabetes count carbohydrates so they can match their meals with an appropriate amount of insulin If you would like this information , the carbohydrate values for all the menu options are now available under the “Carb Values” section of this guide. The carb values are given for a “ standard portion “.- (however, portion sizes may vary slightly)

To help you decide if your portion is the same as the standard portion, we have provided food photos under the section “ standard food portion photos” so that you can visually compare the portion on your plate to the standard portion


The standard carb value for mashed potato is 40g (see carb values on this guide ) You view the food photo for mashed potato and your portion looks a little larger than the one in the photo , so you decide your portion is nearer 50g carb

You use 50g carb for your insulin calculation


Snacks may be needed between meals if you take insulin or if your appetite is poor

If you take a twice daily mixed insulin e.g Novomix 30 or Humalog Mix 25, you should always have a bedtime snack

If you need a snack, you should ask one of the nurses to provide this from the ward kitchen

Some of the snacks available to you from the ward kitchen would be:

  • One glass of milk (10g carb)
  • One or two slices of bread with butter (15-30 g carb)
  • One sandwich (approximately 30g carb – see individual pack)
  • One fruit (5-20g carb)
  • Cheese and biscuits (12g carb)
  • One low fat yoghurt (15g carb)
  • Small biscuit pack (15-30g (see individual packets)

Not eating well?

An adequate food intake is important whilst you are in hospital to help aid your recovery.

If your appetite is poor and/or you are not eating well, you should choose from the whole menu (not just ❤ options) Even sugary desserts may be suitable (if these are the only foods you feel able to eat)

Thinking of losing weight?

Being in hospital can be boring and you may look forward to your meals as the main highlight of the day!!! Boredom can lead to a greater focus on food and a temptation to eat more and snack more!

Increased food intake may not be advisable if you are overweight with diabetes (especially as you will be moving less when confined to your bed/ chair for most of the day.) Increased food intake and less activity is a recipe for high blood glucose levels and high blood glucose levels could contribute to a greater length of stay in hospital

Since it is the carbohydrate content of the diet (bread/ potato/ biscuits/ crisps /desserts) that principally affects blood glucose levels, carbohydrates should usually be consumed in moderation

Tips for sensible eating / moderate carbohydrate intake if overweight

  • Avoid fruit juices, they contain large amounts of natural sugar and are generally not recommended for people with diabetes – choose fresh whole fruits instead (fruit should be spaced over the day) Ask a nurse for fruit from the ward kitchen stock
  • Breakfast should contain one carbohydrate e.g., cereal or toast not both
  • A dessert is not essential. (fruit and yoghurt are healthier options if a dessert is chosen)
  • Smaller portions. Ideally the carbohydrate portion of the meal should be no more than 1/3 of the plate.
  • Larger portions of vegetable help limit the carb portion on the plate and make the meal lower in calories

Supplement drinks

If you are not eating well, these may be recommended by the ward dietitian Whilst they all contain sugar, they are still necessary if you are not eating well

If the provision of these causes your blood glucose levels to rise, your medical team should be informed, and your diabetic medication will be adjusted to limit high blood glucose levels

If you take insulin, an insulin injection will generally be needed with these drinks

If you take tablets or are diet only treatment for your diabetes, the drinks have less effect on blood glucose levels if you sip them slowly over a period of time


If you have a low blood glucose, a nurse will provide you with two glucose gel sachets or 150-200 mls fruit juice followed by a starchy snack (usually biscuits/ fruit - see list above) .