The traditional Arabic diet can be nutritious and rich in vegetables, grains and proteins which are all good for us. Making some tweaks to some ingredients, portion sizes and cooking methods means that you can still enjoy traditional food whilst managing your diabetes.

Some key areas you can make some changes are:


The traditional Arabic cuisine includes foods with high levels of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate is the nutrient that has the biggest impact on raising blood glucose levels.

Keys to helping reduce carbs in your meal is by reducing portion sizes, increasing vegetables portions, and using high fibre versions of staples such as bread.

For people living with (or at risk of developing) type 2 diabetes, the advice would be to change the proportion from a plate mostly full of carbs to a quarter of your plate, a quarter protein and the other half of your plate with vegetables or salad.

In the images below you can see the difference that making food simple swaps can make to the calorie, fat and carbohydrate content of dishes:

Cooking methods

Foods such as sambousek, kibbeh and samosas are traditionally deep fried. You can get the same crispy result by brushing the food with a small amount plant or seed-based oil before baking in the oven. Air-fryers are another good option as they cook the food by rapidly circulating hot air which gives food a crispy outer later without having to add much, if any fat.

Cooking ingredients

Simple swaps when it comes to ingredients can make a difference to your meal. In the video below, Mohammed uses leaner meats such as lamb and chicken, plant-based proteins such as chickpeas and plenty of vegetables in his tagines to make his dishes a healthier choice.

This video from Know Diabetes demonstrates some healthier food options from the Halal Food Festival.

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