Certain foods naturally contain carbohydrates, or carbs. For instance, the amount of carbohydrates in grains, sweets, starches, legumes, and dairy varies. Learn about the three types of carbohydrates and the foods that contain each one.
The body’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, level rises as a result of the digestion of carb-containing foods and beverages because the carbs are converted into glucose, which powers our cells. Blood sugar levels rise after meals in persons without diabetes, but the body’s insulin response prevents levels from reaching too high.
The procedure doesn’t operate as intended if you have diabetes. Depending on your treatment plan and whether or not your body produces insulin, carb counting may or may not help you control your blood sugar levels.
Type 1: If you have type 1 diabetes, your pancreas no longer produces insulin, thus you must take background insulin in addition to doses of mealtime insulin to balance the carbs in your diet. To accomplish this, you must precisely know how many grams of carbohydrates are in your meal—cue carb counting!
Type 2: It’s crucial to watch your carb intake because people with type 2 diabetes may not create enough insulin and are resistant to it. Eating a constant amount of carbohydrates at meals throughout the day rather than all at once will help prevent blood sugar increases. As opposed to people on insulin, those on oral medicines may employ a simpler method of carb counting.
How to Count Your Carbs
Recognise your carbohydrates. There is much more to it than just bread and spaghetti. Additionally high in carbohydrates are all starchy foods, sugars, fruit, milk, and yoghurt. Don’t simply count the obvious ones; make sure you count them all.
Establish a menu plan. Calculate how many grams of carbs, protein, and fat you can eat at each meal and snack to maintain a constant blood sugar level throughout the day. Most diabetic persons strive to eat 45–60 grams of carbohydrates at each meal and 15–30 grams at each snack. Consult your doctor or a certified dietitian before making any dietary changes because this amount may change based on how active you are and the medications you take.
Check the labels. They simplify carbohydrate counting. On the “Nutrition Facts” panel of a package, look for the “Total Carbohydrate” number. Next, verify the serving size and the maximum amount you can consume. With the additional foods you intend to eat, repeat this step. The overall amount of grams of carbohydrates should not exceed your allotted budget for meals.
Fruit, starch, or milk equals 15. Foods that are fresh don’t have labels. The quantity of carbohydrates they contain can require a guess. Approximately 15 grams are contained in each serving of fruit, milk, or starch. Since vegetables are low in calories, you can consume more of them. Usually, two or three portions of vegetables provide 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Be mindful of portion sizes. Depending on the dish, a serving can be any size. For instance, one serving is equal to one small (4-ounce) piece of fresh fruit, one cup of pasta or rice, and one cup of beans. Purchase a pocket guide with information on carb counts and serving sizes. Alternatively, you could get a smartphone app. When you eat at home, measuring cups and a food scale will help you be precise.
Adjust your insulin dose. Depending on the number of carbohydrates you consumed at a meal and the discrepancy between your goal blood sugar level and your actual reading, your doses may alter. Knowing your “insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio,” or how many carbs one unit of insulin will cover, is important. Typically, 12–15 grammes of carbs are covered by one unit of fast-acting insulin.
Additionally, your body may be more sensitive to daily variations in insulin levels. Additionally, your level of stress or exercise has an effect. It’s crucial to develop a strategy with your doctor about how to modify your treatment if necessary.
Make wholesome decisions. Carb counting concentrates on how many of each type of carb you consume at each meal. Still, whenever you can, choose healthy options. Foods and beverages with added sugar frequently have high calorie counts and few nutritional benefits. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are examples of healthy carbs that will provide you energy as well as the vitamins, minerals, and fibre that can help you maintain a healthy weight.
With proper food, frequent exercise, and weight control, diabetes can be effectively treated.
Diabetes and Healthy Eating
If you have diabetes, it is advised that you consume a balanced diet rich in legumes and vegetables (such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, low-salt baked beans, and baked beans). Include some lean protein sources, low-fat dairy products, and high-fibre, low glycaemic index (GI) carbs such wholegrain breads, cereals, and fruit. Choose foods low in sodium and cut back on added sweets and bad saturated fat.
You can manage your blood sugar levels more effectively and maintain a healthy body weight by reducing the serving size of your meals.
Optimal Nutrition and Diabetes
Healthy nutrition can help those with diabetes:
better maintain general health control your blood sugar levels and reach your desired blood lipid (fat) levels
keep a normal blood pressure.
keep your weight in a healthy range
halt the progression of diabetes problems or slow their onset.
Diabetes patients should follow the same healthy dietary guidelines as non-diabetics. You don’t have to make specific dinners or buy particular items, so unwind and indulge in a nutritious meal with the rest of your family.
Basic Diabetic Dietary Recommendations
If you have diabetes, stick to a straightforward healthy eating schedule that includes:
Eat frequent meals all day long.
Make your meal’s main course veggies. When eating lunch or dinner, try to fill at least half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables or salad.
As eating too much can result in weight gain and make diabetes more difficult to control, you might need to cut back on the portions of your meals and snacks.
At every meal, consume a small serving of high-fibre carbohydrates. Wholegrain bread, cereals (such as oats, Vita Brits, All-Bran and natural muesli), wholemeal pasta, brown rice, quinoa, fruit and starchy vegetables (such as corn, sweet potato and potato) are examples of foods high in fibre.
Select low- or reduced-fat dairy products. Search for products with the least amount of sugar added. A wonderful option is Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit.
Choose skinless chicken and turkey, fish, eggs, legumes (beans, lentils), tofu, and nuts as lean meat substitutes.
Limit your intake of foods that are high in harmful (saturated) fats, such as full-fat dairy products, butter, cream, fatty and processed meats, fried foods, cakes, pastries, and items that include palm and coconut oil.
Instead, swap out unhealthy saturated fats for monounsaturated or polyunsaturated margarines, oily fish, avocado, seeds, and nuts, as well as beneficial unsaturated fats like olive, canola, or sunflower oil.
Oily fish is excellent for the heart. At least two to three times per week, try to incorporate oily fish like salmon (fresh or canned), sardines, mackerel, herring, or tuna.
Keep baked goods like desserts, cakes, and biscuits for special occasions.
Avoid candy and sweet beverages including energy drinks, cordials, sports drinks, and soft drinks.
Avoid adding salt while cooking or eating, and consume fewer high-salt meals.
Use spices and herbs to give your cuisine taste.
Keep in mind that controlling carb intake is only one element of managing diabetes. It’s crucial to collaborate with your medical team to create a thorough strategy that takes into consideration your unique requirements and goals.