Understand the basic of nutrition & carbohydrates


September 13th, 2023

Understand the basic of nutrition & carbohydrates

1. Why do we need to eat food and what are carbohydrates?

The food we eat is very important as it provides our body the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Understand the basic of nutrition & carbohydrate is a key component of Type 1 Diabetes care.

Our food is made up of three main nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as other small nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. We should also drink lots of water to help the body stay hydrated.

What are the roles of those nutrients:

  • Carbohydrate: Main source of energy for your brain and body
  • Protein: Helps grow and repair body tissues
  • Fat: Provide energy for growth and physical activity
  • Vitamin & Mineral: Regulate many body functions and keep the body healthy

2. Understanding of carbohydrates to keep blood glucose levels healthy.

You should not avoid all the carbohydrates. But it’s important that you learn how to eat the right portion of carbohydrates; and able to identify the good and bad carbs, which may be harmful to your diabetes control.
Good carbs like leafy greens and vegetables contain natural sugars and make your blood glucose level goes up slowly.

“Bad carbs” are foods and carbs like desserts or high sugary drinks or foods that make blood sugars go too quickly. These can be “dangerous” if there is not enough insulin given and can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis.

By taking a smart approach to balancing carbohydrates, insulin, and exercise, you can enjoy food and stay healthy at the same time.

Where can we find carbohydrates?

  • Grain and starch: like rice, corn, noodles, potatoes, pumpkin, or taro
  • Milk and dairy products: like cow or soy milk
  • Fruits: like papaya, mango, pineapple, watermelon or orange
  • Non-starchy vegetables: like eggplant, tomato, cucumber, green vegetables or mushrooms
  • Sugary food and drinks: like coca-cola, fruit juice, sweet milk, candies, cake, chips

Fast sugar food is dangerous! They make your blood glucose increase too much!!

Read more.

3. Glycemic index

After eating, the time it takes for the body to convert carbohydrates and release glucose into the bloodstream varies, depending on the type of carbohydrate and the food that contains it.
Some carbohydrate-containing foods cause the blood glucose level to rise rapidly; others have a more gradual effect.

The glycemic index measures how fast and how much food raises blood glucose levels.
Foods with higher index values raise blood sugar more rapidly than foods with lower glycemic index values do.

Below you will find the glycemic index of most of the staple, fruit and vegetable people eat in Cambodia:
– Yellow category – eat more
– Orange category – eat moderately
– Red category – try to avoid or based on recommended portion

In addition to serving a balanced diet of carbs, proteins, and fats, you can also keep your blood glucose at a healthy level by:

  • Make sure blood glucose is tested regularly (ideally 4 times/day)
  • Having 30 mins of exercise everyday!
  • Make sure you get the right amount of insulin at the right time
  • Plan a healthy meal according to the carbohydrate intake recommended by doctor/nurse

3. Key Takeaways

Food plays an integral role when it comes to managing diabetes. Diabetics need to be mindful not just of the food they eat, but also of the amount or portion sizes that they are having. Eating too much or eating too little won’t be good for your diabetes, so be sure to eat the right portion sizes to keep yourself nourished and to provide your body with the nutrients that it needs.

When it comes to carbohydrates, it is important to remember that not all carbohydrates are bad. Healthy sources of carbs such as vegetables or leafy greens can provide a slow increase in carbohydrates which is good. On the other hand, diabetics need to avoid sugary drinks and desserts since these can quickly cause blood sugar levels to go up.

It’s also important for diabetics to engage in daily exercise as this can help control blood sugar levels. At least 30 minutes of daily exercise goes a long way when it comes to maintaining good health.

Lastly, be sure to talk to your doctor about how you can better manage your diabetes. The recommendations and advice that your doctor would give you is helpful in making sure that you’re always on top of your diabetes and controlling it well. Your partnership with your doctor will prove invaluable in maintaining a high quality of life despite having diabetes.


HelloType1 content is based on published, internationally recognised guidelines and then reviewed by local experts to ensure it fits local context. The translation is based on simplified English language to ensure it conveys the safest and clearest possible message in regional languages. Basic insulin and blood glucose testing access is still an issue in the South-East Asia region and our chief aim is to address this. HelloType1 content is not intended to replace the advice of individual healthcare professionals but as a collaborative tool to help them improve the outcomes of disadvantaged people with Type 1 Diabetes in the region.

HelloType1 content is curated for the topics using information only taken from accredited sources such as the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) and the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD).

This content is then reviewed and adapted by a panel consisting of healthcare experts (e.g. endocrinologist, nutritionist, diabetes nurse, psychologist) and members of the South-East Asia T1D communities, helping ensure the information is appropriate in a local context.

Writers of HelloType1 content:
Anne-Charlotte Ficheroulle, Pharmacist, Digital Innovation Manager at A4D
Charlotte O’Brian Gore, Research assistant ImmunoEngineering, King’s College. UK

Content Reviewers – healthcare professionals:
Dr. May Ng, Paediatric Endocrinologist, Chief Medical Advisor A4D, UK
Dr. Yeow Toh Peng, Endocrinologist, Malaysia
Dr Jaturat Petchkul, Paediatric Endocrinologist, Thailand
Dianna Culbertson, Physician Assistant T1D care, US
Prof Dr Malene Iv, Endocrinologist, Kantha Bopha Hospital, Cambodia
Steffen Tange, Consultant Psychology, Denmark
Soe Nyi Nyi, Nutritionist, Myanmar
Lucas Lim, Dietician, Malaysia

Content Reviewers – people with Type 1 Diabetes:
Jerry Gore, Co-Founder A4D, Mountaineer, UK
Diana Maynard, T1D advocate, UK
Emelyne Carmen Ho, College Student, Malaysia
Molly Seal, College Student, UK

Content Reviewers – parents with T1D child:
Samantha Seal, Teacher, Thailand
Kim Than, Deputy Country Director – Plan International, Cambodia

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