Nutrition in Type Diabetes

The Big Diabetes Lie

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Most people with type 1 diabetes are of normal body weight, and they usually do not need to be on a calorie-restricted diet. They also do not tend to have the cholesterol abnormalities that are commonly seen in patients with type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that an adult should obtain

• 45 to 65 percent of the total daily kilocalories in the form of carbohydrates

• 25 to 35 percent of the total daily kilocalories in the form of fat (of which less than 7 percent are from saturated fat)

• 10 to 35 percent of the total daily kilocalories in the form of protein

These recommendations also apply to lean individuals without diabetes. In other words, this is a normal, healthy diet.

You should have a good idea of how much carbohydrate you are going to eat at a meal, because it will affect how much insulin you should take before the meal. Estimating the carbohydrate content of a meal is called carbohydrate counting or carbohydrate exchange. You need two pieces of information to count carbohydrates:

• You need to know the carbohydrate content of the food per unit measure.

• You need to estimate the size of the food portion (for example, by weighing it or using a measuring cup or counting slices).

You can think of food in 15-gram carbohydrate units: this is equivalent to 1 carbohydrate exchange or 1 carbohydrate unit.

There are lots of lists available (in books and on the Internet) that describe different foods, portion sizes, and carbohydrate content. Table 8-4 lists some common foods and the amount equivalent to 15 grams of carbohydrate units.

Table 8-4 Foods and Quantities Equivalent to About 15 Grams of Carbohydrate



Milk, soy milk, buttermilk

1 cup

Plain yogurt

% cup


1 oz (1 slice)

Bagel (store-bought)

1 oz (4 bagel)

Cooked rice, couscous, or pasta

'/3 cup

Hot dog bun, pita bread, English muffin

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