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About your Diet: Carbohydrates

A healthy diet is essential for the management of diabetes.

The food you eat consists of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates cause blood glucose levels to rise because when broken down, carbohydrates turn into glucose.

Carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet, because they store and transport energy throughout our bodies. Brown rice, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, and fruits and vegetables are all good sources of carbohydrates.

As a person with diabetes, it is important to carefully monitor your carbohydrate intake, as high blood glucose levels can lead to health complications.

To determine your target carbohydrate intake, your activity level, size, and lifestyle must be taken into consideration.

A registered dietitian can help you determine the right amount of carbohydrates for your diet, in order to regulate blood glucose levels.

Reading the nutritional label will tell you how many carbohydrates a packaged food contains, but not how it will affect your glucose levels. Find the total grams of carbohydrates, and subtract the grams of fibre, to figure out how many carbohydrates will be absorbed into your bloodstream.

When eating out, it can be difficult to tell your carbohydrate intake. You may find it helpful to choose the right foods and portions by simply dividing your plate into one-half vegetables, one-quarter grains and starches, and one-quarter meat and alternatives.

Other than simply counting carbohydrates, the type of carbohydrate you choose is important. Carbohydrates that increase blood glucose levels slowly, prevent your blood glucose from spiking and provide energy over a longer period of time. The rate at which a particular food increases blood glucose levels is called the "glycemic response." A Food that quickly increases blood glucose, like a chocolate bar, is given a higher Glycemic Index rating or GI rating, and food that affects blood glucose levels more slowly, such as oatmeal, have a lower GI rating. For more information on GI ratings consult doctor

As a person with diabetes, it is important for you to choose foods with low or medium GI ratings more often than foods with higher GI ratings.

You may find it helpful to keep a food log to document meals, snacks, and portion sizes. This gives you the opportunity to look back to see if you have been selecting a diversity of foods from all four food groups. You can also check to see if you have been choosing foods with lower GI ratings. When seeing a registered dietitian, a food log can be helpful in demonstrating your pattern of eating.

Last modified: 2012-03-06