How to personalise your total diet replacement meal plan

Total diet replacement (TDR) has been hailed as the best way to lose enough weight to put type 2 diabetes into remission. That being said, we understand that life carries on no matter how you’re eating and that to feel like your best self, a combination of TDR and fresh meals might suit you better. Find out out how to combine TDR with one or two healthy, low-calorie meals a day as well as a few delicious recipes to get you started.
Annabel Nicholson
min read
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Quick summary

  • Total diet replacement is a nutritionally-complete, low calorie way of eating that could help you lose an average of 15kg, the same amount shown to lead to successful reversal of type 2 diabetes
  • It is possible to replace a few total diet replacement meals with fresh, healthy meals that are low in calories while still maintaining weight loss
  • Non-starchy vegetables are recommended because they’re full of nutrients and fibre, and low in carbohydrates and calories
  • Adding a 200kcal meal to your total diet replacement plan adds flexibility and diversity, introduces you to health meal ideas before you return to regular eating, and can help reduce any bowel-related side effects you may experience on a liquid diet

Creating and sustaining healthy habits is all about what suits you and your lifestyle. There’s no one single diet for type 2 diabetes, but there are plenty of options to explore. Finding a way of eating that you enjoy will help you stick to it and ultimately mean you reap the rewards of weight loss, steadier blood sugar levels, and perhaps even remission. 

Here at Habitual, our main offering includes a period of total diet replacement (TDR). During TDR, four nutritionally-complete porridges, soups, or shakes make up your 800-calorie diet each day to help you achieve weight loss, type 2 diabetes reversal, and habit change. TDR is the quickest and safest way to lose significant weight without surgery, and it’s been clinically proven to help people lose an average of 15kg of their body weight—the same amount seen to lead to successful reversal of type 2 diabetes in up to 60% of cases.[1] With all your nutritional needs taken care of, TDR frees up mental space by reducing the need to think about complicated diets, calories, or groceries. This mental break from food can help reset your mind and body as you prepare for a healthier, happier future. 

That being said, we understand that life on TDR does have its challenges. You might miss preparing a meal, sitting down and chewing food, or eating a variety of textures and colours. Choosing to add a few low-calorie meals into your TDR plan is absolutely an option and creates a way of eating that lets you enjoy fresh food while keeping to the daily calorie allowance that can lead to significant weight loss and diabetes remission. For example, by consuming three of our 200 calorie porridges, soups, or shakes a day, you can look forward to a delicious 200 calorie meal as well. As well as adding flexibility and diversity to your day, this eating approach introduces you to healthy meal ideas before your return to regular eating again. It can also help alleviate any bowel-related side effects you may be experiencing on a liquid diet.

This article focuses on building 200 calorie meals but if you want to swap in a meal that's higher in calories or includes foods not mentioned in this guide, that's absolutely fine! The most important thing is that you find a way of eating that helps you achieve your health goals all the while feeling your best. If that means including small amounts of meat, carbohydrates, or a sweet-treat then go for it! Your weight loss might slow down a little bit but that's absolutely fine—your mental wellbeing is as important as your physical function, so give yourself permission to do whatever you need to do. Keep an eye on your portion sizes and if you'd like some healthy meal inspiration, you'll find plenty of guidance in the rest of this article.

We’ve put together this article to help you feel confident in building a 200 calorie meal and provide you with some inspiration for the delicious, colourful plates of food you can enjoy while continuing your journey to better health. You might be surprised at just how delicious a 200 calorie plate can be!

How to build a 200 calorie plate of non-starchy vegetables 🥬

The reason we recommend a meal of primarily non-starchy vegetables is that they are abundant in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals (things made by plants that are very good for us), and fibre, which helps to keep the ‘good’ microbes in our gut thriving, and eases any constipation. At the same time, they’re low in carbohydrates and relatively low in calories, meaning you’ll be able to have more of them within the 200kcal allowance.

We’ve put together a list of foods you can use to make up your 200 calorie plate. Calories per 80g portion size are included to help you easily build your meal. We’ve chosen 80g because it is generally the size of a loosely clenched fist. You might even want to invest in a kitchen scale to weigh your veggies and ensure you’re sticking within your 200 calorie allowance—but given how low in calories non-starchy veg tend to be, a little more or less won’t hurt you!

We’d recommend starting to build your plate by identifying which veg you want to include, and how much of each you’ll use. In the next section, we’ll get into oils and other seasonings to dress up your meal.

Vegetable: Calories per portion (80g)

  • Asparagus: 23
  • Aubergine: 18
  • Bean sprouts: 40
  • Broccoli: 30
  • Brussel sprouts: 41
  • Cabbage (white): 26
  • Cabbage (red): 33
  • Cabbage (pointed): 29
  • Cabbage (savoy): 29
  • Carrots: 34
  • Cauliflower: 28
  • Celery: 8
  • Celeriac: 17
  • Courgette: 16
  • Cucumber: 9
  • Fennel: 14
  • Green beans: 25
  • Kale: 32
  • Leeks: 22
  • Lettuce: 11
  • Mushrooms: 6
  • Onions: 33
  • Peas: 67
  • Peppers: 29
  • Rocket: 13
  • Shallots: 20
  • Spring onions: 22
  • Spinach: 15
  • Squash: 30
  • Sugar snap peas: 32
  • Swede: 26
  • Tomato (fresh): 14
  • Tomato (tinned): 17

While the aim of this article is to highlight all the delicious veggies you can enjoy, it's worth taking note of ones to avoid if your aim is to build a non-starchy plate—potatoes, sweet potato, parsnip, sweetcorn, beetroot, and all fruits, nuts, and seeds.

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Oils and sauces 🥄

Don’t worry, you won’t have to eat just raw vegetables for your non-TDR meals. Here’s a quick list of some common oils and sauces that you can use to complete your 200kcal:

Oil/sauce, Approximate calories per 1tbsp (15ml)

  • Olive oil: 120
  • Coconut oil: 115
  • Butter: 100
  • Mayonnaise: 102
  • Creme fraiche: 45 (low fat, 25)
  • Sour cream: 23
  • Balsamic vinegar: 19
  • Malt vinegar: 3
  • Soy sauce: 12
  • Tabasco: 2
  • Harrisa paste: 14

Extra flavours 🧂

In addition to oils and sauces, there are many other ways to spice up your meals. Here are a few of our favourites—with the addition of delicious flavours you can create some really tasty dishes!


  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme


  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Dried chillies
  • Chinese five spice
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric


  • garlic

Time to get cooking! 👨‍🍳

There are plenty of delicious recipes online, but here are a few to help you get started. Happy cooking!

Adapting your TDR plan to suit you and your lifestyle is something to embrace—if it helps you feel better, go for it. Building delicious plates of healthy food can be a fun challenge and you might stumble across some recipes that become regulars in your weekly repertoire. If you have any questions about how to personalise the Habitual TDR programme to suit your needs, our Patient Care team is on hand and happy to discuss your options with you.


[1] Taheri, S., Zaghloul, H., Chagoury, O., et al. (2020). Effect of intensive lifestyle intervention on bodyweight and glycaemia in early type 2 diabetes (DIADEM-I): an open-label, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial. Lancet 8(6):477-489. Accessible here.

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