In actual fact, you’re no different from your friends. Everyone should follow the same healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. And there are plenty of ways to make healthy eating fun.
The best thing you can do for your body if you have diabetes is to eat healthily. We don’t mean a plateful of greens every day, but one or two might help!
The good news is that you can eat the same as your friends. But you will have to stay in control of your intake of carbohydrates, and make sure it is balanced with your insulin. Remember that your body really doesn’t like too much sugar.
Carbohydrates (also called “carbs”) are found in most foods in small or large chunks. They help to keep you energised throughout the day and help keep your blood healthy. Your insulin helps in the process of turning carbohydrates into energy, so it’s important to check how many you’re eating.
There are two types of carbohydrates – sugars and starches. Sugar exists in differing amounts in most foods, including fruit and vegetables. Starches are present in foods such as potatoes, cereals, rice and bread.
Bear with us, here comes the science!
Understanding how many carbs are in your food will help you estimate how much insulin you need. Your nurse will tell you how carb counting can help you, but an easy to remember rule is:
1 portion of carbohydrate is the same as 10-15 grams of carbohydrate.
Here are some examples of carb content:
Different types of carbohydrate affect blood glucose levels in different ways. Some, such as fruit juice, raise blood glucose levels quickly. These have a high glycaemic value. Others, like brown rice, raise blood glucose more slowly. These have a low glycaemic value.
Your body needs both types of carbohydrate, for example:
Understanding how different carbohydrates affect blood glucose can help you to control your diabetes more effectively. Knowing how much carbohydrate a meal or snack contains makes it possible to work out what affect it will have on your blood glucose level.
Confused? Don’t be, it’s really quite easy when you get the hang of it and it will soon be second nature to you. Remember that there are plenty of people to ask for help if you need it, starting with your healthcare team.
Diabetic foods are not recommended by Diabetes UK as they’re more expensive than ordinary foods and are not really worth the trouble. Soft drinks should be sugar–free or no added sugar though, as sugar in liquid form is rapidly absorbed and raises blood glucose levels quickly.
Your hospital dietitian will work with you to develop a meal plan which you can follow easily without having to give up foods you enjoy.
Yes! As long as you follow a healthy, balanced diet, there is no reason you can’t enjoy a piece of chocolate now and again. Just make sure you keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels so that you stay inside your target range. All you need to remember is that you need to balance your food, activity levels and insulin dose.
It’s difficult to stick to eating healthily especially when there are tempting sugary foods like sweets and chocolate. But with a good meal plan, you’ll soon be a pro at eating all the right food.
We all know we’re supposed to have five portions of fruit and veg a day, but how do we know what’s in a portion? This site is really useful, but here are some of our favourites:
"My top tip is, if all your friends are having sweets, have extra insulin and have a little something but only now and then!"
Test your memory and learn about carb content with this fun card game.