FOOD and TYPE 1 DIABETES
In general, like every non-diabetic, a healthy, normal and balanced diet is what is encouraged.
T1 diabetics need to focus on controlling their blood glucose levels (BGLs) in order for their bodies to function at the best of their abilities. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, T1 diabetics need to find a balance between the carbohydrate food intake together with their insulin dose and physical activity. For this reason, it’s important to learn about the amount of carbohydrates in the food you consume and to get into the habit of a regular routine with eating, snacking and exercising.
The best way (we think) to take control of your BGLs involve these 5 steps:
Step 1: Healthy, balanced diet
Step 2: Exercise regularly
Step 3: Know your carb to insulin ratio
Step 4: Include more Lo-GI foods into your diet
Step 5: Monitor your levels
FOOD BASICS to Know
As the most important source of energy for our bodies, carbohydrate is a nutrient, which is broken down into glucose that the body uses as fuel.
Essentially, there are two categories for carbohydrates: Starch and Sugar.
Starchy carbohydrates include foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, while sugar can be found in fruit and some dairy products.
Of all the nutrients, only carbohydrates can directly affect blood sugar levels, which is why, when the body doesn’t have enough, diabetics experience a hypo (low blood sugar level), or, if the body has too much, they experience a hyper (high blood sugar level). For this reason, it is important for an individual’s blood sugar level to stay in a healthy range, hence where the Glycaemic Index (GI) comes into play.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Foods with a low GI (GI ≤ 55) release glucose into the bloodstream at a slow sustainable rate. So this means for diabetics you are less likely to have that high ‘peak’ of your blood glucose level and are faller for longer.
See www.gisymbol.com for more information.
Protein provides the body with material for cell, body tissue structure and hormones such as insulin. Foods in this category include meat, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products, to name a few, and it is an essential part to incorporate into your diet.
Fats and oils are an important source of energy providing essential nutrients for the body to grow and develop. It is important to know how much fat is included into your diet though, as the too much or the wrong kind can be quite unhealthy and could result in unstable blood sugar levels.
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate and is completely fine to include into a diabetics diet although, like for every non-diabetic, should be consumed in moderation. In general, foods with higher sugar servings also have a higher carbohydrate and fat level.