Understanding diabetes and the impact of food on your glucose levels is an important part of diabetes management. There is no specific diet one should follow when living with diabetes; however, different foods can impact glucose levels in different ways. Food planning, understanding carbohydrate intake and regularly monitoring blood glucose levels are all important when managing diabetes.

Carbohydrate counting is an approach to meal planning. When mastered, it allows you to closely match insulin needs and gives enhanced freedom in food choices.

“Pumping allowed me to move away from meals with fixed carbohydrate requirements so now I'm not forced to eat to support my blood sugar as much as I used to. Before starting on an insulin pump my A1C would fluctuate between high 8's through to 10. Now it’s currently 6.9% and has been like that since I began pumping. Living life with a pump has allowed me to travel the world and try new exotic foods that would have been nearly impossible to manage with MDI.”

- Brent


All food falls into three main nutrient categories: protein, fat or carbohydrate. Out of the three, the main nutrient which affects blood glucose (sugar) levels is carbohydrate. When carbohydrate is digested it is turned into glucose. Glucose enters the bloodstream and causes blood sugar levels to rise, usually 15 minutes after eating, depending on the type of food. Insulin is then required to allow sugar in the form of glucose to move from the bloodstream into cells for energy.

Knowing how to calculate the amount of carbohydrate in food makes it easier to match the amount of insulin needed. This is known as carb counting.


  • Starches: Breads, cereals, crackers, rice, pasta and grain
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, peas, beans and corn
  • Fruit and fruit juices
  • Milk and yoghurt
  • Sweets: Honey, table sugar, syrup, jelly, sweets, sport drinks, cookies, cakes, pastries, ice cream and pudding


There are two methods of counting carbohydrates:

Carbohydrate Exchange System - This is a system based on counting servings of food that contain 10 grams of carbohydrate. Each 10 gram serving is equal to one exchange/carbohydrate choice/carbohydrate portion.

Carbohydrate Gram Counting - This is a system based on weighing and calculating the exact number of grams of carbohydrate in each meal. Weighing scales, food labels, food lists and meal planning books are good tools for carbohydrate gram counting.

Learn more about carbohydrate counting.

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