Diabetic-friendly dishes now available at Wymondham café

Diane Simpson, left, and Aideen Summers, the owner and chef of the Lemon Tree. Picture: DAVID SIMPSO

Diane Simpson, left, and Aideen Summers, the owner and chef of the Lemon Tree. Picture: DAVID SIMPSON - Credit: Archant

Restaurant menus are these days often loaded with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Profiler, writer and lecturer, Diane Simpson.
Picture by: Sonya Duncan

Profiler, writer and lecturer, Diane Simpson. Picture by: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

But very few of our eateries cater to people with one of the UK's most common diseases - diabetes.

Now Diane Simpson, 72, has launched a campaign for that to change.

Mrs Simpson was diagnosed with the disease six years ago and is a committee member of the Wymondham branch of Diabetes UK, where she lives.

She said it was about time restaurants started putting more diabetic-friendly - low sugar and low carbohydrate - dishes on their menus.

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Mrs Simpson said: 'The fact is there are more deaths from diabetes than from prostate cancer and breast cancer combined, but it is still very much overlooked.

'There are so many thousands of diabetics and when you're eating out there's a real temptation to eat what you shouldn't.'

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As a first step, the Wymondham's Lemon Tree Café Bar agreed to put on a special menu for 18 members of the branch featuring diabetes-friendly dishes after another branch member, Tony Hawkins, approached them.

The diners enjoyed culinary delights including moussaka with Greek salad, vegetable soup served with high-protein rolls and fresh fruit served with Chantilly cream.

Mrs Simpson said: 'They put together a special menu for our purposes and we're just delighted that they have.

'They've also asked me to go through their usual menu marking what is diabetic-friendly or what they need to change. To find a restaurant willing to adapt like this is great.

'We're hoping this is going to trigger in restaurant owners' minds that this is a valuable market that they're overlooking.'

'I decided to follow all the rules and it worked'

Mrs Simpson said she used to require diabetes medication, but was able to come off it thanks to a healthy diet and exercise regime.

She said: 'When I was diagnosed it was shock and horror.

'If worse comes to worst you can end up blind and in a wheelchair, but I decided I didn't want to go through that,

'So, with my husband's support I decided to follow all the rules and it worked.'

Mrs Simpson said she started eating very little sugar or carbohydrates, and began regular exercise.

She said: 'And I did it. Weight dropped off, blood glucose levelled, and I felt in control.'

But Mrs Simpson said one of her joys of life, eating out, wasn't an option anymore.

She said: 'Even if the food didn't contain added sugar it was invariably awash with carbohydrates, which are just as bad as sugar.

'I felt despondent. I asked restaurants if they could include a low-carb meal in their menu, but was met with blank stares and comments such as 'the chef doesn't have time'.

'I felt more despondent until I found a restaurant willing to put on an entire diabetic-friendly menu for our local Diabetic UK group.'

Diabetes fact file

There are two principle forms of diabetes:

-Type 1, in which the pancreas fails to produce the insulin which is essential for survival. This form develops most frequently in children and adolescents, but is being increasingly noted later in life.

-Type 2, in which results from the body's inability to respond properly to the action of insulin produced by the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is much more common and accounts for around 90pc of all diabetes cases worldwide. It occurs most frequently in adults, but is being noted increasingly in adolescents as well. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by changes in lifestyle.

Diabetes Uk estimates this country has about 4.5m people living with the disease - including about 1m who have Type 2 diabetes but don't know it because they haven't been diagnosed.

(Sources: Diabetes UK, World Health Organisation)

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