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Carb awareness

Carbohydrate is the nutrient that has the biggest impact on blood glucose levels.

Diagram showing the effect of different portions of white rice on blood glucose levels

 

For people with type 2 diabetes, it’s important to know the carbs in all the food and drink you eat to keep blood glucose levels under control. This is because diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot use glucose properly. Blood glucose levels that are often high can eventually lead to diabetes complications such as heart disease, eye and kidney problems and foot amputation.

 = 5g of sugar = 

Which foods contain carbs?

The first step is to familiarise yourself with foods that do and don’t contain carbs, as some foods have none (e.g. meat and fish), some have small amount of carbs (e.g. most vegetables), and others have high amounts (e.g. bread, pasta, rice and potatoes).

 

It is also important to note that not all carbs are the same. Some carbs contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre, therefore the quality of carbs is important for the overall balance of your diet.

For detailed information and more examples of foods containing carbohydrate, check out our how many carbs in this page.

 

Portion size

The amount of carbs is determined not only by the type of food, but also the portion size. For example, a small portion of rice may contain 10g carbs, which then is broken down into glucose in the bloodstream and creates a small rise in your blood glucose level.

However, a large portion of rice may contain 90g carbs. This is broken down into much more glucose in the bloodstream, and results in a significantly higher rise in your blood glucose level.

 

Carb counting

People with type 2 diabetes on a flexible insulin regimen may find that matching their insulin dose to carbohydrate consumed improves their blood glucose levels. Your healthcare team will be able to provide you with the appropriate advice on which treatment is best for you.

Therefore, you may wish to learn how to accurately count the amount of carbs in the food and drink you consume. See the carb counting page for more information and tips about this.

Prawns 0g carbs; mange tout - 2g carbs; dried apricots- 13g carbs; egg noodles - 36g carbs

Stay safe

When considering a low-carb diet as an option, people with diabetes should be aware of possible side effects such as the risk of hypoglycemia, and should get support to reduce this risk if on insulin or medicines such as Gliclazide or Repaglinide. Seek advice from your Health Care professional for further information about monitoring and adjustments to medication as required.

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