Type 1 Diabetic Diet

The Type 1 diabetic diet should focus on matching your food intake to the action of your insulin in order to maintain a healthy blood glucose level. Otherwise,The American Diabetes Association and other experts agree that there is no such thing as a diabetic diet. Primarily for Type 2s, the ADA has established the American Diabetes Association exchange diet which serves as a guideline for controlling food intake. 

I don't think that enough can be said about the impact that the discovery of insulin has had on the lives of diabetics. It has truly given life to those who have no ability to produce insulin. Before the discovery of insulin in 1921, the lifespan of Type 1 diabetics was severely limited. Type 1 diabetics could be kept alive by a few months following a very special diabetic diet, called a ketogenic diet, that consisted of severely restricting carbohydrate intake and eating mostly fats and protein.

Since the discovery of insulin, the advances made in blood glucose monitoring systems and fast acting insulins have led to much fewer dietary restrictions than were previously necessary. Type 1 diabetics do not have to eat products labeled as diabetic or follow a very restrictive meal plan to maintain good diabetes control.

Carbohydrate Counting

Carbohydrate counting must become a way of life for the striving diabetic. A healthy type 1 diabetic diet can be more easily achieved if carbohydrate counting is mastered and made part of the daily routine. Many diabetics will learn how to count carbs by taking a diabetes education class. Of course, there are many supporting books and publications that can help with perfecting this skill. Food that contain carbohydrates raise blood sugar so the amount of insulin you take will be dependent on the amount of carbohydrate consumed during the meal. Effective carbohydrate counting is based on knowing the carbohydrate content of the food per unit measure and correctly estimating the size of the food portion. By keeping track of the carbohydrates consumed and setting limits on how much you eat, you can cover your carbs by taking the right amount of insulin to keep your blood sugar in the target range.

Most type 1 diabetics are of normal body weight and usually do not need to be on a calorie restricted diabetic diet. The type 1 diabetic diet should focus on matching food intake to insulin to maintain a healthy blood glucose level.

The ADA recommends the following % breakdown in the total daily calories consumed:

  • 45-65% Carbohydrates
  • 25-35% Fat
  • 10-35% Protein

The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is the ranking given to carbohydrate containing foods based on their effect on blood glucose levels. Foods that are digested slowly have a low GI rating and foods that are quickly absorbed have a high GI rating. The glycemic index depends on the fiber content of a food, the fat content , and how much the food has been processed.

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