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Do you have Diabetes? People with Diabetes are often told to avoid carbohydrates entirely if they want to manage their condition. Particularly if they want to do it without medication. How much truth is in this recommendation, and where does it come from – let’s find out.

Can you eat carbohydrates if you have Diabetes?

If you jump onto any reputable website that educates the public on Diabetes, nowhere will you find a recommendation to cut out carbohydrates completely? Mainly because completely cutting out carbohydrates for diabetics and non-diabetics has many long-term health consequences.

Some of the leading long-term consequences include: 

  • lowered immunity
  • constipation
  • higher cholesterol level
  • lowered concentration
  • increased risk of anxiety and depression.

But carbohydrates have sugar!

I will guess what you have heard “Carbs contain sugar, and diabetics can’t consume sugar”. So that is why you believe cutting them out to manage your Diabetes makes sense. 

However, this is not true. 

I want to share something with you that will change how you understand this and empower you to confidently include carbohydrates in your diet as a person with diabetes. It will make your life so much easier.

The 101 on Carbs: 

  • They provide energy to your body in the form of sugar (aka glucose)
  • Some carbohydrates require little digestion, like table sugar, and instantly offer energy (aka simple sugars)
  • Other carbohydrates, like roller-meal or sweet potatoes, require much more digestion time as they come in a package of other nutrients. Meaning sugar is released more slowly into your bloodstream.

This concept is referred to as the Glycaemic Index (GI) of a food. The lower the GI, the slower the release of energy and vice versa.Diabetes Glycemic Index

From this explanation, we can now understand that not all carbs are equal. So, the misconception stems from the fact that because all carbohydrates provide sugar as energy, they are bad for people with Diabetes. However, they provide your body with energy and many other essential nutrients for health. We also need to understand how Diabetes works.

“I would quit carbs, but I’m no quitter.”

The 101 on Diabetes:

Diabetes is a condition characterised by the inability of the body to regulate sugar levels adequately. People with diabetes struggle to store and deliver sugar to the blood. This is because a hormone called Insulin that is responsible for this is low or not doing its’ job as it is meant to. People with type 1 diabetes have virtually no insulin produced by their bodies. In contrast, type 2 diabetics often have lower levels and insulin resistance.

For this reason, controlling our intake is vital, not cutting it out completely. We need carbohydrates to regulate our sugar levels and function optimally. Unprocessed carbohydrates will only cause an increase in your blood sugar levels if you consume too much.

The immediate effect of cutting out carbs if you have Diabetes…

Besides the long-term consequences, people with Diabetes risk their sugars dropping lower than is safe. This is known as a Hypoglycemic episode- where people with Diabetes become shaky and tingly and can even faint if not treated. This is an immediate consequence of not consuming enough carbohydrates.

To treat this, carbohydrates are the answer. Consuming half a glass of coke or 2-3 jellybeans usually, does the trick to bring levels back up again. Consuming alternative nutrients like protein and fat will not allow this to happen.

What about table sugar and honey? 

Processed carbohydrates like sugar, sugary beverages, refined flour, white bread & rice, and breakfast meal will all release energy/sugar faster into the bloodstream. This means they have a very high GI. Table sugar will release sugar immediately into the bloodstream. In contrast, something like white rice will take longer, and brown rice will release even more energy slowly.

How much sugar do people with Diabetes need?

Each person with Diabetes is unique and needs to figure out how much carbohydrates their body needs to control their blood sugars. You will need to adjust your portions until you get it right, do not compare yourself to others. Focus on your body and what it is telling you.

I have created a free resource to help you figure this out. Check it out here.

Take home message for people with Diabetes:

As a qualified nutrition expert with over ten years of treating diabetics, I can confidently say you can live a healthy and happy life eating carbohydrates. You can enjoy your birthday cake without cutting out traditional foods like rice and maise. Carbohydrates are your body’s favourite fuel source; we need them for long-term health and short-term focus and function.

Check this out if you have Diabetes:

Diabetes Diet guideWe just launched a comprehensive Diabetic meal guide on our website, which you can purchase here.

It includes;

  • A 7-Day Diabetic Meal Plan
  • Shopping Guide
  • Diabetic Recipes
  • Resources on
    • How to treat a low sugar
    • What is a serving size 
    • How to calculate your safe carbohydrate intake
    • Essential skills you need to be able to make the changes and make them stick.
  • Food and Blood Sugar Journal

Most of you can successfully use this guide to figure out most of what you need to do. However, some of us may have more advanced Diabetes or other medical conditions or need more accountability and support. 

If you need more help from a professional, as you have tried all the above with no luck, or need to be held accountable and stick to the changes, please apply to work. We will be in touch to book you in for some one-on-one love and a guaranteed personalised solution just for you.

Remember! Carbohydrates are not the enemy.

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