Carbohydrates and diabetes
The effect of food and drink on blood glucose levels varies according to the kind of food that is eaten, such as the amount and type of carbohydrate consumed, whether it is cooked or raw, and what it is eaten with. The most important factor though, is the amount of carbohydrate that is eaten.
Carbohydrates include starchy foods like breads, potatoes, noodles, pasta, chapattis, rice or yam, as well as sugary foods. The relationship between a carbohydrate food and its impact on blood glucose levels after it has been eaten is called its ‘Glycaemic Index’ or ‘GI’.
A number of tools are available to help people with diabetes think about the carbohydrates they eat and make healthier choices. Some of these concentrate more on the amount of carbohydrate in different foods (called ‘Carbohydrate Counting’), whereas others focus on the overall balance between different food groups within meals (called the ‘Eatwell Plate’).
Considering the glycaemic effect of different forms of carbohydrate can be an effective way of regulating blood glucose. Foods and drinks with a very high glycaemic index, such as Lucozade, (non-Diet) Coke, fruit juice or glucose tablets are used to treat hypoglycaemia (excessively low blood sugar). These kinds of foods should be kept in easy reach.