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Why understanding carbs (and how to count them) matters

Jess starts by talking us through the basics. 

This video will help you to identify carbohydrates in different types of food and learn how carb counting can help you to manage your blood glucose levels.


Key points

Carb counting takes a bit of effort to learn, but the control that comes with it can make life much easier.

Carbs are found in starchy foods like bread and pasta, in naturally occurring sugars in fruits and dairy products as well as in added sugars (found in sweets, chocolate, sugary drinks). Most carbs break down into glucose once digested. This means that the carb content of your diet directly affects your blood glucose levels.

Carbs can be further broken down into fast-, medium- and slow-acting. 

  • Fast-acting carbs: Glucose tablets, glucose drinks, full-sugar soft drinks or squashes, jellies (not diet), sweets.
  • Medium-acting carbs: Bread, pasta, potatoes, yams, breakfast cereal, couscous.
  • Slow-acting carbs: Pearl barley, peas, beans, lentils, sweetcorn, pumpkin.

Slow-acting carbs are absorbed very slowly. They may not need to be matched with insulin unless eaten in large quantities. The saying 'everyone is unique' applies to carbs too, so monitor your blood sugar levels to see how different foods affect you – and, of course, speak to your team for help.

Plenty of foods don’t have any carbs in them at all. Such as:

  • Protein: Meat, fish, seafood, eggs.
  • Fat: Lard, ghee, margarine, oils.
  • Dairy: Cheeses, butter.
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, avocado.
  • Drinks: Water, sugar-free drinks, diet drinks, diet squashes, black tea and coffee.

Continue learning

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2. How carbs interact with your body video

Understanding how different carbs interact with the body is key to carb counting. Jess explains the two main ways of counting carbs, and how to work with your healthcare team to match the amount of insulin you need to take.

Discover how to count carbs

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