Diabetes and Nutrition

Diabetes is when the body is not regulating its blood sugar levels properly.

Pancreatic Cancer Action
Patient Information Booklets

Diet and Nutrition for Patients

This booklet contains information about how pancreatic cancer can affect your diet and nutrition. Provides information on managing dietary symptoms such as malabsorption, enzyme replacement, poor appetite, weight loss and managing diarrhoea. Contains a section about dietary supplements and information about diabetes and diet.

Recipe Book Front Cover
Patient Information Booklets

Patient Recipe Book

This recipe book provides advice on how best to combat cancer-induced weight loss and other eating related problems whilst undergoing pancreatic cancer treatment. It features over 80 quick, easy and energy dense recipes for nourishing meals and snacks that have been created specifically for people who find it hard to maintain a healthy weight.

When we eat fat and carbohydrates this is converted into glucose (sugar). Blood sugar levels are regulated by insulin, a hormone found in the pancreas. Insulin converts the glucose into energy, if your body cannot make enough insulin, or use its own effectively, you have diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Type 3c diabetes can be caused by pancreatic cancer or pancreatic surgery. The risks of developing diabetes can increase with time, so if you experience a dry mouth, increased thirst, feel the need to get up in the night to pass urine or lose weight suddenly you should ask your doctor to check your sugar levels.  

You may get diabetes after pancreatic surgery as hormone and digestive enzyme production will be affected by removing all or part of the pancreas. 

Pancreatic cancer patients and diabetes

It is important to get advice relevant to your own circumstances. Some people may need tablets to manage their blood sugar levels, others may need insulin injections to replace the insulin the pancreas would have normally produced. You may be referred to a diabetes specialist nurse who will help you manage your diabetes; by giving help and advice on any medications and managing your diet. 

Maintaining blood sugar levels

You can help maintain your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible by maintaining a good balance between a nourishing healthy diet, nutritional supplements, medications and physical activity. This not only helps improve blood sugar control but also has an impact on physical healing, weight maintenance and quality of life. 

However, it is important that you get the balance between healthy eating and maintaining your weight. If you are struggling to maintain your weight, you should not restrict your diet further to try and reduce your blood sugar levels. Ask your doctor, dietitian or diabetes nurse for advice. 

No single food will supply all the nutrients a body needs, so good nutrition means eating a variety of foods. It is important to eat foods from each group throughout the day. 

Foods are divided into five main groups:

  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Whole grains, cereals, and bread (wheat, rice, oats) 
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, and yoghurt) 
  • Meat, fish, eggs & beans, pulses and nuts 
  • Fats, oils and sugars 

Try to ensure you eat regularly and have a mix of foods throughout the day, to ensure the body has a proper balance of all the nutrients it needs to function. Eating meals and snacks at regular times is also necessary for controlling blood sugar levels. 

Bread, rice, potatoes and pasta contain carbohydrate, which is broken down into glucose and used by your cells as fuel. Choose carbohydrates with a lower glycaemic index (GI) which are more slowly absorbed. These won’t affect your blood glucose levels as much and they’ll keep you feeling fuller for longer.

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Information Product № Published 15/10/2019
Last Updated 02/07/2024 Next Review Due 27/06/2027