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A carbohydrate counting lifestyle may stabilize blood glucose level

Edited: 17.04.2024

Johanah Co

HelloType1 Digital Learning and Development Manager, A4D

1. Introduction

Dealing with type 1 diabetes needs STRATEGIES, and counting carbohydrates is one of the SMART TOOL we need!

The importance of carbohydrate counting for diabetes is that by watching how much carbohydrates we have consumed, it can be easier to better manage one's blood glucose level.

We can also make better choices when we are aware of how much carbohydrates we have eaten. This method may help you dose the right amount of insulin, leading to a more stable blood glucose level. When we have a more stable blood glucose level, we can feel good about ourselves.

Carbohydrates, together with protein and fats, are the primary nutrients our body needs. Even if carbohydrates may make our blood glucose go up, we still need it because serves as our body's source of energy.

2. What is carbohydrate counting?

Carbohydrates are sugars, fibers, and starches found in foods like grains, fruits, beans, vegetables, and dairy products. They are the body's main source of energy for our cells, tissues, and organs.

When a person eats a carbohydrate-rich food, our digestive system breaks down this food into sugar, that goes into our blood. If we eat a high carbohydrate food, our blood glucose can quickly go very high. This is when the importance of carbohydrate counting for diabetes comes into play.

For those with type 1 diabetes, maintaining a stable blood glucose level can be a constant challenge because our body's pancreas can no longer produce insulin.

When we use a carbohydrate counting strategy, we have more freedom in eating different types of food because we can make informed choices. An informed choice is the ability to enjoy food while being able to know how certain foods will increase our blood glucose level.

Using carbohydrate counting strategies makes it easier to live with type 1 diabetes and gives you the knowledge and freedom to eat and do what you want in moderation.

3. What is the importance of carbohydrate counting for diabetes?

Counting carbs matters because it gives flexibility in managing type 1 diabetes.

When you master carbohydrate counting, you no longer have to give up your favorite food.

You can enjoy different foods and adjust your insulin dosage based on the amount of carbohydrates you plan to eat.

Counting carbs may also lessen the high blood glucose (known as hyperglycaemia) and low blood glucose (known as hypoglycaemia) swings we may encounter.

Doctors, diabetes educators, dieticians, and other healthcare professionals supports this carbohydrate counting concept because it improves the quality of treatment for people with diabetes.

When we receive better care for our diabetes, we are less likely to get problems or complications early on. All of these things support the importance of carbohydrate counting for diabetes.

4. How can we quickly understand and use carbohydrate counting in our daily lives?

Talking to a nutritionist, dietitian, or diabetes educators is important, as they can properly guide and advise you on your favorite foods to eat.

You can use your hand to estimate the size or amount of food. This is especially helpful when eating out.

For example, when you close your hand into a fist, you make a measurement that looks like a cup. If a handful of white rice is about the size of your closed fist, how many carbohydrates do you think it is, and how much insulin might be needed?

One cup of white rice has approximately 30 grams of carbohydrates, and the insulin needed for it may vary. It is best to consult your healthcare team to know your insulin sensitivity.

Knowing how much carbohydrates you eat can help you decide how many insulin units you need to inject. This is another situation where the importance of carbohydrate counting for diabetes comes in.

Another useful tip is to read the nutritional labels on the back of packaged foods. This makes it easier and more accurate to count carbohydrates.

5. How does it feel to keep my Type 1 Diabetes in range through carbohydrate counting?

When I first started to know about counting carbs, it was hard for me to figure out how to measure and count the carbohydrates in different foods.

Since I do not know the exact carbohydrate content of all foods, I stick to the food I'm used to eating so I can figure out how much insulin I need to inject.

I keep track of what I eat with a food diary or an app. Counting carbs can take time and be a bother, especially when I'm in a hurry, but it's worth it because I can eat a wider range of foods without getting my blood glucose level too high or too low.

Even if I eat the same amount of food every day, my blood glucose level isn't always the same because of other factors that affect blood glucose, like exercise, daily activities, stress, lack of sleep, etc.

I will know if my food counting and insulin dosage are correct, if I can keep my blood glucose level between 80 and 180 mg/dl, or 3.9 and 10 mmol/L, two hours after a meal.

It may take time to learn counting carbs, but the more you use it, the easier it is to master.

6. The satisfaction in getting off from a roller coaster blood glucose zone

People with type 1 diabetes may feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally when our blood glucose level are in a good range.

Different diabetes associations worldwide recommend to have greater than 70% time in range to lower the risk of microvascular and microvascular complications.

People with type 1 diabetes can take better care of themselves and feel better about having diabetes if they know more about carbohydrate counting. This is why the importance of carbohydrate counting for diabetes needs to be emphasised.

When we feel good, we are more likely to accept our type 1 diabetes and take good care of our body.

We believe everyone who manages their type 1 diabetes well does it in their own special way. We may also consider insulin timing, insulin type, activities, etc. just as equally important as carbohydrate counting.

Please talk to your health care team about the best way to treat your body, since we all use different kinds of insulin and have different body types and levels of activity.

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