Carbohydrate is the nutrient that has the biggest impact on blood glucose levels.
The picture below gives you a guide about how different portions of carbohydrate food impacts 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.
Carb content in common foods
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.
People with type 2 diabetes on a flexible insulin regimen may find that matching their insulin dose to carbohydrate consumed improve 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.
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 healthcare professional for further information about monitoring and adjustments to medication as required.
Carbs and cals book
This visual book contains 1,700 food photos, showing the fibre content for each portion to help you achieve your 30g fibre each day, as well as carbs, calories and other nutrients
Carbs and cals app
This visual app is perfect for those counting calories, monitoring carbs, boosting fibre, looking to improve portion control or lose weight.
World foods book
If you’re from an African, Arabic, Caribbean or South Asian background, this book helps you understand the carbs in the food you eat. Its visual style makes it easy to select portion sizes.