Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which are needed by the body for energy. The best carbohydrates choices are those that are higher fibre/lower glycemic index and lower in fat.
Nutritious carbohydrate choices include:
• Breads & cereals – choose high fibre breakfast cereals (e.g. oats, weetbix, untoasted muesli etc), wholegrain varieties of bread, rice (brown, doongara or basmati varieties), pasta and noodles
• Fruit - fresh, canned in natural juice, dried fruit (small serve)
• Starchy vegetables - including corn, sweet potato, potato, taro, cassava
• Legumes - including baked beans, lentils, chickpeas etc
• Dairy products - including reduced varieties of milk, yoghurt and smaller amounts of reduced fat ice cream and custard
Less nutritious forms of carbohydrate include (therefore use in small amounts):
• Biscuits & snack foods - potato chips, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, pastries etc.
• Sugars –regular soft drink, cordial, fruit juice and added sugar including table sugar (sucrose), glucose, honey, malt, lollies etc
All carbohydrate foods break down into glucose and directly affect BGLs. The amount, timing and type (GI) of carbohydrate foods at meals and snacks is therefore important for managing BGLs in managing type 1 diabetes.
For people with type 1 diabetes the amount of carbohydrate at each meal (and snack if consumed) needs to be balanced with activity level and insulin dose to assist maintaining BGLs mostly within the normal range. There are several ways of measuring carbohydrate amount to ensure consistency from day to day. These include carbohydrate exchanges or serves. I’d suggest you discuss this with your dietitian.
The glycemic index or GI is a ranking of carbohydrate foods that provides information about the effect of different types of carbohydrates on BGLs and is an additional tool that can be used to fine tune BGLs.
Foods can be classified as low, intermediate or high GI depending on the rate at which they release glucose into the blood stream. Low GI foods release glucose slowly into the blood stream and result in a slow, low rise in BGLs. High GI foods release glucose quickly into the blood stream, resulting in a fast, sharp rise in BGLs.
While counting carbohydrates exchanges or serves is essential for good BGL control, the GI is an additional tool that can assist with managing BGLs
Thanks for your question to the forum.
To lower the GI of the diet, one low GI food at each meal is recommended. Low GI foods include:
• Wholegrain breads - including Tip Top 9 grain, Burgen Soy-Lin
• Cereals - including All Bran, Rolled Oats, Guardian
• Fruit loaf or raisin bread
• Corn and sweet potato
• Pasta - all types
• Rice - Basmati or Doongara
• Legumes - including baked beans, lentils
• Dairy Foods - including milk, yoghurt and custard or non-dairy alternatives
• Fruit - including apples, oranges, banana, pears, plums, peaches, grapes
What about sugar?
Despite what many people think, some sugar can be included by children and teenagers with diabetes as part of a nutritious diet. We know that sugar found naturally in, or added to nutritious foods such as high fibre breakfast cereals, low fat custard and yoghurt should not adversely affect BGLs if included in the overall carbohydrate intake. Foods which have sugar as a main ingredient (eg. soft drinks, lollies) or are high in sugar and fat are not good everyday choices.