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This section is for under 18's and contains a great interactive tool to help you and your family learn more about diabetes.Managing Diabetes
- The interactive web tool for children and families. It may be helpful to look at this section with your parents at first.
As a person with diabetes, you make important decisions every day about food. What you eat has a greater impact on your blood glucose levels than anything else you do.
You can meet this daily challenge by meal planning. With a meal plan, you can make choices when eating at home, grocery shopping and dining out. By working with your healthcare professional and learning about nutrition and the effect of food on blood glucose, you can turn meal planning into a pleasurable experience.
Most food turns into sugar—or blood glucose—before entering the bloodstream. Insulin then helps blood glucose move from the bloodstream into your body’s cells—from your brain to your muscles—where it is used for energy. Without insulin to unlock those cells and let the glucose in, your body does not get the nourishment it needs, and excess glucose stays in the bloodstream.
When you eat, you put fuel into your body. This is why your blood glucose level rises after you eat and why many people with diabetes need to use insulin near mealtimes. The insulin moves the blood glucose from the bloodstream to the cells, where it can be used.
Planning what, when, and how much you eat plays a key part in keeping your blood glucose levels in the range your healthcare professional has set for you.
The goal of a meal plan is to control your blood glucose levels, maintain a healthy body weight and feel good. Your healthcare professional can assist you in meal planning by suggesting the right amounts, types and timing of the food you eat.
Different types of foods have specific roles within the body. Keeping track of what you eat, when you eat and how much you eat, along with regular testing, can help you and your healthcare professional understand how the food you eat affects your blood glucose levels.
As you develop your meal plan, think about the foods that you normally eat. One way to identify this is by creating a list of everything you eat for 3 days. After completing your list, work with your healthcare professional to analyse your list and ask yourself the following:
Eating at regular intervals gives your body a chance to use up blood glucose between meals. In general, you should eat every 4 to 5 hours. Skipping meals may lead to overeating at the next meal, resulting in higher blood glucose levels.
If you take insulin, talk to your healthcare professional about using insulin with meals and snacks.Back to Top
Studies show when considering the affect of carbohydrates on blood glucose, it is not just how many carbohydrates you eat but their source as well.1 Some types of food cause a quick rise in blood glucose after a meal, while others cause a smaller peak and more gradual decline. The measurement of how fast a food causes blood glucose to peak is called its glycaemic index, or GI.
What is a Glycaemic Index (GI) Number
High-carbohydrate foods are ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 representing the effect of pure glucose on the body. The lower the GI of a food, the slower its peak. The way the food is cooked (for example, frying vs. baking) can also determine the GI level of the food. The GI breaks foods into 3 levels:2
A few low-GI foods include:
Meats and fats are low in carbohydrates and do not have a GI ranking.
Used in combination with carbohydrate counting, looking at food GI levels may help you stabilize your blood glucose throughout the day. The rule of thumb is that the higher the GI, the smaller the portion you should have. Conversely, you can eat more of lower-GI foods with a less adverse effect on glucose levels.
Try choosing foods from the low-GI category more often and see if it helps you to maintain closer to normal blood glucose levels.
If you have diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight positively impacts your health.1
It is important to involve your healthcare professional in weight-loss efforts. This is especially important if you have type 1 diabetes, because losing weight involves virtually every aspect of your diabetes self-care program, including your meal plan, physical activity and insulin.
Some people gain weight when they begin using insulin, as your body may be trying to restore itself to a healthy weight. By working with your healthcare professional, you can set up a plan to maintain a healthy weight and achieve weight-loss goals.
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