Eat to beat diabetes: Delicious dinners that are just 500 calories, quick breakfasts that will keep you full until lunch and comfort food that could save your life 

  • Type 2 diabetes is one of greatest epidemics of modern times, experts say 
  • Nearly four million Brits have diabetes due to sedentary lifestyles or diets 
  • Meanwhile, one in three adults has pre-diabetes – high blood sugar levels 
Research has shown that eating 800 calories a day for eight weeks is the best way to lose weight quickly, correct your blood sugar levels and dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes (File photo)

Research has shown that eating 800 calories a day for eight weeks is the best way to lose weight quickly, correct your blood sugar levels and dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes (File photo)

Gnawing hunger. Deprivation. For so many people, these are the images that dieting immediately conjures to mind — until now.

The incredible success of my revolutionary 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet is changing the face of weight loss.

Research has shown that eating 800 calories a day for eight weeks is the best way to lose weight quickly, correct your blood sugar levels and dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes.

And my diet plan is backed by studies which show that if it is done properly, a rapid weight-loss diet can be a safe and effective way to cut dangerous belly fat and achieve your weight-loss goals.

And it’s really not difficult. Where’s the hardship when you can tuck into 800 calories of deliciously comforting cauliflower cheese, quiche or coq au vin?

As your blood sugar levels improve you simply won’t feel hungry any more.

All this week, the Mail is featuring scrumptious low-calorie recipes from the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book, created by my wife, GP Dr Clare Bailey, who has been using this approach very successfully with her patients.

Working with nutritionist, Dr Sarah Schenker, she has created meals which contain healthy fats and nutrients and are specially designed to banish cravings and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

The real secret of the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet is the effect it has on a hormone called insulin.

Insulin is produced by your pancreas and one of its jobs is to keep your blood sugars under control. When you eat a sugary or starchy meal your blood sugar levels start to rise, rapidly.

Because high blood sugar levels are bad for your body, your pancreas starts to pump out insulin, to bring your blood sugar levels down. At the same time insulin will also encourage your body to store excess calories as fat. If you keep on eating a lot of sugary, starchy foods then your pancreas will struggle to keep up, desperately pumping out ever more insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the greatest epidemics of modern times thanks largely to sedentary lifestyles and high-sugar diets adopted  but many do not know they are at risk (File photo)

Type 2 diabetes is one of the greatest epidemics of modern times thanks largely to sedentary lifestyles and high-sugar diets adopted but many do not know they are at risk (File photo)

This will not only make you fatter and hungrier, but will also raise the risk that your body will either become resistant to the effects of insulin or your pancreas will stop producing it.

Either way, you will have joined the nearly four million people in the UK who have type 2 diabetes.

The way to break this vicious cycle is to bring your insulin levels down. And that’s where the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet comes in.

If you can cut right back on sugars and starches — bread, white rice, pasta and potatoes as well as cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks — you will be heading in the right direction. The recipes featured all this week show you just how deliciously easy it is to do so.


Avoid a low-calorie/fasting diet if you are: under 18, underweight or have a history of an eating disorder; you are pregnant or breastfeeding; have a significant psychiatric disorder; are frail or you are recovering from surgery. 

Check with your GP first if you have other medical conditions or you are taking medications such as warfarin, insulin or drugs for diabetes or blood pressure. 

One way to boost this blood sugar reduction even further, is to go for slightly longer periods without eating food.

Technically, this is ‘fasting’, of course, but you can achieve the blood sugar lowering benefits without any kind of suffering, simply by skipping the occasional meal, or subtly extending the period between dinner and breakfast (by cutting out any late-night snacks).

Overnight, or if you skip breakfast, your body gets a break from digesting food and is able to get on with the essential tasks of internal spring cleaning and self-repair.

The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet plan suggests days when you might skip breakfast and have a more substantial brunch instead, or after a big lunch one day, perhaps skip dinner or just have a bowl of miso soup instead.

Doing this means you can be fasting for around 16 hours almost without noticing.

It shouldn’t be tough — research shows people who eat two meals a day feel less hungry and more satisfied than people eating exactly the same number of calories but spread throughout the day.

Each recipe featured in this week’s Daily Mail has been specifically crafted to control calories, maximise nutritional content and eliminate insulin-triggering sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Stick this out for eight weeks and the impact on your weight — and your blood sugar levels — will be dramatic.


Plan your meals in advance and aim for variety to maintain your interest and a nutritional balance. Assemble breakfast the night before, have a lunch ready to grab on the hop, and ensure you have all you need for your evening meal so it can be ready in minutes.

Aim to drink 2-3 litres of fluid a day to reduce your risk of tiredness, light-headedness and headaches (which can be triggered by dehydration), hunger (this comes in waves and passes so try to ‘surf the wave’) and feeling colder.

Drink more soup: it is great at keeping you feeling full and can be made very cheaply.

Switch potatoes, pasta, rice and noodles for lower-carb nutrient-packed alternatives such as cauliflower rice (grated then steamed or sauted), spiralised vegetables or shredded cabbage.

Avoid sugar and syrups even if they claim to be ‘natural’ and use whole fruit instead (its sugar impact is reduced when it is eaten with fats and fibre, which slow absorption).

Drink hot drinks (teas, coffee, Bovril, miso soup) to suppress your appetite.

Minimise alcohol, fruit juice, smoothies and cordials while on the diet — drinks can be packed with hidden calories.

Ditch ‘diet’ products that are usually packed with sugar and/or sweeteners which can trigger sweet cravings.

Build in strong flavours such as lemon, pepper, lime, chilli, garlic, gherkins, mustard and herbs to make the meals more satisfying.

Follow the meal planner in yesterday’s paper, stick rigidly to the recipes, or use an online nutritional counter (such as My Fitness Pal) to keep track of calories/nutrients.

Take a multivitamin every other day while fasting.

Be sociable and share meals with others but serve yourself smaller portions and skip the carbohydrates.

Indian-spiced prawns 

Serves 2

  • 250g large prawns
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder (to taste)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste (or ½ tbsp mirin or juice of half a lime)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
  • ½ 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100g spinach (frozen or fresh)

• CALORIES 190 • PROTEIN 24g • FAT 7g• FIBRE 2g • CARBS 10g

Marinate the prawns in the chilli powder, turmeric and tamarind paste for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and sauté the onions until softened then add the garlic and cinnamon stick. After 2-3 minutes, add the tomatoes and the marinade (not the prawns). 

Check the seasoning and cook the sauce on a moderate heat until it thickens. Then turn the heat to low and stir in the prawns and spinach. Cook prawns until they change colour if using fresh or for 5 minutes if they are already cooked, stirring occasionally. Serve with cauliflower rice or stir-fried shredded cabbage.

Coq au Vin

A classic French dish made with braised chicken and a rich red wine and mushroom sauce. Serve with cauliflower mash to mop up the gravy.

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken legs
  • 10 shallots
  • 50g pancetta, or smoked bacon lardons
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 400ml red wine
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • Bouquet garni
  • 1 carrot, cut into batons
  • Handful of parsley, chopped

• CALORIES 500 • PROTEIN 40g • FAT 28g• FIBRE 2g • CARBS 10g

Preheat the oven to 180c. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan and fry the chicken until golden all over. Add the shallots, pancetta, garlic, mushrooms and herbs and cook gently for 5 minutes, then scatter over the cornflour. Add the wine and stock, bouquet garni and carrot. Stir well. 

Transfer to the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Scatter over the chopped parsley and serve with cauliflower mash (steam a whole chopped cauliflower for 8 minutes with a finely sliced leek, then drain and mash with 2 tbsp creme fraiche or 1 tbsp olive oil).

Cauliflower cheese

Serves 4

  • 2 medium cauliflowers, broken into florets
  • 200g ricotta cheese
  • 200ml creme fraiche
  • ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 100g mature Cheddar, grated
  • 50g diced bacon or lardons, fried (optional)
  • 2-3 large jalapeno peppers from a jar, diced (optional)
  • 50g Parmesan, grated

• CALORIES 450 • PROTEIN 20g • FAT 39g • FIBRE 2g • CARBS 5g

Preheat the oven to 160c. Place the cauliflower florets in a baking dish in the oven (mix in broccoli florets, too, if you like). In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the ricotta, creme fraiche, Worcestershire sauce and Cheddar. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove the cauliflower from the oven after about five minutes, stir in the bacon and jalapeno peppers, if using, then pour over the cheese sauce. Scatter with Parmesan and return to the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling and brown on top. Serve with fresh greens.

Chicken wrapped in Parma ham

The chicken absorbs the flavours from the Parma ham, which forms a delicious crust.

Serves 2

  • 1 heaped tbsp full-fat cream cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  • 2 small skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 slices of Parma ham (or prosciutto or serrano)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

• CALORIES 320 • PROTEIN 39g • FAT 18g • FIBRE 0g • CARBS 0g

Preheat the oven to 180c. Mix together the cream cheese and garlic and season with black pepper and a pinch of salt. Spread the mixture over the surface of the chicken breasts and wrap 2-3 slices of ham around each. Drizzle with olive oil, place it in an oven dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the juices run clear (not pink) when pierced with a sharp knife.

Serve with a salad or green vegetables.

Salmon with lemon and dill

Serves 4

  • 3 peppers (red and yellow) chopped into large pieces
  • 2 courgettes, roughly sliced
  • 2 red onions, chopped into wedges
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 small egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Handful of dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp walnuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 4 salmon fillets


Preheat the oven to 180°c. Put the peppers, courgettes and onions in a baking dish or tray, season and drizzle the olive oil. Start baking them in the oven while you prepare the fish. Beat the egg in a bowl and mix in the lemon zest, dill, walnuts and almonds, then season with a pinch of salt and black pepper.

Remove the vegetables from the oven after 10 minutes and place the salmon on top, leaving a gap between each fillet. Spoon the nut crumb mixture evenly over each fillet and return them to the oven for another 15- 20 minutes.

Serve with the roasted vegetables.

Chilli squid with lentils

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 250g pack ready-cooked Puy lentils
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 4 medium-sized squid, cleaned
  • 4 generous tsp sweet chilli sauce or 3 large red chillies, diced and mixed with 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned

• CALORIES 160 • PROTEIN 18g • FAT 5g• FIBRE 3g • CARBS 13g

Sweat the onion in olive oil until it starts to brown. Stir in the lentils and simmer for a few minutes to heat them through. Season with salt, black pepper and lemon juice.

Cut each squid tube open, lay it flat and score the inner surface with a sharp knife in cross-hatch lines about 1cm apart.

Season and cook on a very hot griddle with the cross-hatched side down for 1-2 minutes, then turn them over — they will curl up almost immediately, indicating that they are cooked.

Serve the squid on top of a pile of lentils, each with a generous tsp of chilli sauce. This dish goes well with a rocket salad, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.

Aubergine lasagna

An excellent low-cal, low-carb Mediterranean-style vegetarian meal for anyone missing pasta (add Quorn or minced meat to the veg if desired).

Serves 4

  • 50g spinach, chopped
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 100g cottage cheese
  • ½ red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 200g mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 fat garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 300ml passata
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g aubergine, sliced in ½cm strips
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50g Cheddar, grated

• CALORIES 200 • PROTEIN 14g • FAT 13g • FIBRE 3g • CARBS 7g

Preheat the oven to 200c. Mix the spinach with the Parmesan and cottage cheese, and season to taste. Place the chopped red pepper and mushrooms in a separate bowl along with the garlic, herbs, passata and olive oil. Season well.

Spread half of the tomato and veg mixture over the bottom of an ovenproof dish, followed by alternating layers of sliced aubergines and the cheese and spinach mix. The last layer should be aubergines. Spread the rest of the tomato mix over the top and dot with the cherry tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until the aubergine is soft.

Remove the foil and sprinkle grated cheese over the top then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with a crunchy green salad.


For so many inveterate dieters, breakfast is a high-sugar problem meal often grabbed on the hop.

But instant cereals or toast and jam just can’t keep you feeling full until lunchtime, instead they’ll send your blood sugars soaring, only to crash a few hours later leaving you hungry and tormented by cravings.

Alternatively, you can still diet and lose weight dramatically quickly when you start your day with a good healthy breakfast.

Just ditch the morning cereal and toast and experiment with different energy-boosting combinations of protein and plants such as eggs, avocados, fish, tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. Delicious!

The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet is based on the principles of the Mediterranean diet, and that includes some full-fat dairy products.

For so many inveterate dieters, breakfast is a high-sugar problem meal often grabbed on the hop 

So we recommend dumping those thin, insipid low-fat diet yoghurts and indulge in deliciously thick and creamy Greek-style yoghurt instead.

It might go against all your long-held dietary principles, but full-fat Greek yoghurt has been strained to retain a higher protein content, which along with a high fat content means a small amount (a few tablespoons) will keep you feeling full until lunchtime without significantly raising your blood sugar.

There is now clear evidence that a diet containing dairy products does not cause diabetes or have a significant impact on cholesterol.

Live unsweetened yoghurt will also help boost the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Although it can be expensive, look out for full-fat coconut yoghurt as a delicious non-dairy alternative, too (unsweetened, naturally!).

Eggs — however you cook them — make a nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich high-protein breakfast or lunch.

They also keep you full for longer without pushing up your blood sugars or cholesterol.

And even though you are cuttingback on starchy carbs, porridge doesn’t have to be off the menu.

Just drop the instant oats (which can send blood sugar levels soaring) and look out for coarse oatmeal made of relatively unrefined steel-cut or Irish oats.

These might be more chewy, and you might need to soak them overnight or cook your porridge for a little longer, but they retain the nutritious inner kernel, and because unrefined carbs are broken down and absorbed more slowly by your body, they will keep you fuller for longer.

Oats contain lots of fibre, of both the soluble and insoluble kind, and this fibre contributes to keeping blood sugars down and supporting healthy gut bacteria.

Mushroom omelette

Serves 1

  • 80g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • Small knob of butter (or a dash of oil)

• CALORIES 210 • PROTEIN 14g • FAT 17g • FIBRE 1g • CARBS 0g

Sauté the mushrooms in a drizzle of oil for 4-5 mins. Gently whisk the eggs and season. Heat the butter in a small nonstick frying pan then pour in the eggs. After a few seconds lower the heat, add the mushrooms and cook the omelette until the underside is golden brown. Fold it in two and serve it while it is still a bit runny on the surface (it will go on cooking on the plate).

Avocados with pre-baked tomatoes  

Serves 2

  • 200g tomatoes (about 3)
  • ½ tsp dried tarragon, oregano or rosemary
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

• CALORIES 300 • PROTEIN 4g • FAT 29g • FIBRE 7g • CARBS 8g

Cut tomatoes in half, scatter with herbs and bake for 30 minutes at 180c. Meanwhile, cut avocados in half, scoop out flesh and divide between two plates. Mash roughly, top with baked tomatoes and sprinkle with paprika, chilli and black pepper.

Big mushrooms with feta

Serves 1

  • 60g spinach, roughly chopped
  • 30g feta, crumbled
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 2-3 large flat mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

• CALORIES 130 • PROTEIN 7g • FAT 10g• FIBRE 2g • CARBS 2g

Wilt the spinach in a pan, drain it and squeeze out excess water. Place in a bowl and stir in the feta with pepper and the nutmeg. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms. 

Brush the caps with olive oil then place them on a baking tray flat side down and fill them with spinach mixture. Bake in an 180c oven for 15 minutes.

Greek yoghurt with nuts, seeds and berries 

Toasting nuts and seeds transforms their taste as the heat sets off a chemical reaction, enhancing the flavour.

Serves 1

  • 2 large tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp (15g) toasted seeds or nuts
  • Small handful of berries


Nicely uncomplicated. Just assemble it in a bowl and tuck in.

Kipper and tomatoes

Packet kippers take 2-3 minutes in a microwave to warm through. For extra oomph, sprinkle with chilli flakes and black pepper.

Serves 1

  • 1 smoked kipper (or mackerel fillet)
  • Knob of butter
  • 100g tomatoes

• CALORIES 230 • PROTEIN 10g • FAT 20g • FIBRE 1g • CARBS 3g

Grill or microwave the smoked fish with a knob of butter, according to instructions. Serve on a bed of tomatoes, either cold or cooked.

Apple & cinnamon porridge

Cinnamon has a natural sweetness, reduces the speed at which the stomach empties and has been shown to lower blood sugar.

Serves 1

  • 25g rolled oats
  • 175ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 apple, grated
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• CALORIES 260 • PROTEIN 9g • FAT 9g • FIBRE 4g • CARBS 38g

Put oats and milk in a saucepan, with grated apple and cinnamon. Add pinch of salt to enhance flavours. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

  • Adapted by Louise Atkinson from The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book by Dr Clare Bailey with Dr Sarah Schenker, published by Short Books at £14.99. © Sarah Schenker and Clare Bailey 2016. To order a copy for £11.24 (offer valid to October 13), call 0844 571 0640 or visit P&P free on orders over £15. 

Health | Mail Online