You don't have to eat special foods when you take insulin. You just have to be careful to eat healthy foods. And you have to spread throughout the day the carbohydrates you eat. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar higher and more quickly than any other nutrient. It is found in desserts, breads and cereals, and fruit. It's also found in starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn, grains such as rice and pasta, and milk and yogurt.
The more carbohydrates, or carbs, you eat at one time, the higher your blood sugar will rise. Spreading carbs throughout the day helps keep your blood sugar levels within your target range. Counting carbs is one of the best ways to keep your blood sugar under control when you use insulin. It helps you match the right amount of insulin to the number of grams of carbohydrates in a meal. You need to test your blood sugar several times a day to learn how carbs affect you. Then you can change your diet and insulin dose as needed.
A registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you plan meals and snacks.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Your daily amount depends on several things, including your weight, how active you are, which diabetes medicines you take, and what your goals are for your blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you plan how many carbohydrates to include in each meal and snack.
For most adults, a guideline for the daily amount of carbohydrates is:
If you take insulin, you need to know how many grams of carbohydrates are in a meal. This lets you know how much rapid-acting insulin to take before you eat. If you use an insulin pump, you get a constant rate of insulin during the day. So the pump must be programmed at meals to give you extra insulin to cover the rise in blood sugar after meals.
When you know how many carbohydrates you will eat, you can take the right amount of insulin. Or, if you always use the same amount of insulin, you need to make sure that you eat the same amount of carbs at meals.
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Current as of: March 21, 2017
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Elizabeth T. Russo, MD - Internal Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator & Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
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