With the constant carbohydrate meal plan, your child eats a set amount of carbohydrates at each meal and snack. Your child takes insulin or other diabetes medicines at the same times and in the same amounts each day. This plan is easy to follow if your child usually eats and exercises about the same amount every day.
Carbohydrates, also called carbs, are a source of energy for the body. There are three basic types of carbs: starches, sugars, and dietary fiber.
You can tell how much carbohydrate is in a food by reading the nutrition facts. You can find nutrition facts on the food label, in nutrition books or apps for your smartphone or computer, or on the internet. Fifteen grams of carbs equals 1 carb choice. A gram is a way to measure how much something weighs.
Carbs affect your child’s blood glucose level more than protein or fat. If your child uses insulin, you need to balance how much insulin your child takes with the amount of carbs your child eats. This helps keep your child’s blood glucose at a healthy level and helps prevent many health problems.
Your healthcare provider or dietitian will tell you how many carb choices your child should eat based on how many calories your child needs each day. Too many carbs at one time can make your child’s blood glucose go too high, and too few carbs can make his blood glucose go too low. Too many calories can cause your child to gain weight.
The amount of food your child eats at a meal or snack may change depending on how much he exercises. He may need more food before he exercises. Your child may also need to eat more or less based on his insulin dose and blood glucose level. This plan is easy to follow if your child eats and exercises about the same amount every day.
Food groups that have carbohydrates include:
Your child should eat only small amounts of sugary foods for a healthy diet. Serving sizes depend on the food. One tablespoon of sugar equals 1 carb choice. A sweetened drink may equal 2 or more carb choices. Check the nutrition facts label on the package to see how many grams of carbohydrate are in a serving.
Meat, fats, and vegetables do not affect your child’s blood glucose in the same way as carbs. However, these foods do count toward your child’s daily calories. Choose healthy kinds of meat and fat, and plenty of nonstarchy vegetables.
For books that help you with carb choices, exchange food groups, and other information to help manage diabetes, contact: