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Healthy eating for type 1 diabetes

Eating the right food, at the right time is important for managing type 1 diabetes.

Getting the balance right can be a challenge, but alongside exercise, and insulin treatment, it is essential.

Making the right food choices for a meal is not just about managing blood glucose levels for a couple of hours, healthy eating has an impact on health in the long-term for people with type 1 diabetes.

It is an area where there are many myths among the facts about what you can and can't eat, but overall Diabetes UK says you should still be able to enjoy a wide variety of food.

It makes sense to get to know as much as possible about good food selection, but this is not something to do on your own. As part of your diabetes care team, an appointment with a dietitian is important both when you are first diagnosed, and with check-ups as part of your treatment plan reviews.

Healthy eating for type 1 diabetes

Carbohydrates are a vital part of any balanced diet, but they have a special significance for people with type 1 diabetes because of the way carbs are converted into glucose in the body.

There are two main categories of carbs - sugars and starchy carbohydrates.

Sugars are in sweet foods, as you would expect, including sugar itself. Starchy carbohydrates are in common foods like potatoes, bread, pasta and cereals.

How many carbs you need will vary from person to person, how much a person weighs, how active they are and their age. Overall, you'll probably be advised to make starchy carbs add up to a third of your food and drink intake.

The rate at which the carbohydrates are turned into glucose needs to be matched with appropriate doses of insulin to stop blood glucose levels spiking too high or dropping too low.

Diabetes UK recommends trying to have a routine with starchy carbohydrate so around the same amount is eaten at the same mealtimes every day. It also recommends eating three meals a day - breakfast, lunch and evening meal.

People using insulin pumps, or basal bolus insulin treatment, can be more flexible and can use a technique called carbohydrate counting.

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