Diabetes (Type 1) Basics and Nutrition

The nutritional needs of a child with diabetes are no different than a child without diabetes. All children need a diet that includes a variety of foods from each food group to stay healthy. 

Insulin is needed for the body to use the carbohydrates in food for energy. In type 1 diabetes, the body is no longer able to make insulin, therefore insulin must be given. The amount of insulin must be matched with the amount of carbohydrate eaten.

A healthy diet needs to include carbohydrate foods.  Foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and milk are healthy food choices with carbohydrates.  Carbohydrate counting helps determine the amount of insulin to be given for that meal.  

  • Starches: Bread, cereal (sweetened and unsweetened), pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, peas, crackers, popcorn.
  • Fruits: Fresh, frozen, canned, juices.
  • Milk: Milk, yogurt.
  • Others: Cakes, cookies, candy chips, ice cream, jellies, jams, regular soda.

All foods, including sweets, can be worked into a daily meal plan by counting grams of carbohydrates.   

There are many sources to help with carbohydrate counting such as food labels, restaurant guides, books such as The Calorie King: Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate Counter, as well as websites such as CalorieKing.

There are two main types of insulin therapies:   

Basal Bolus Multiple Injection (rapid- and long-acting insulin) and Insulin Pump Therapy (rapid-acting insulin):

  • Multiple insulin injections per day
  • Rapid-acting insulin is given for high blood glucose and whenever eating foods with carbohydrate
  • Blood glucose must be checked before giving insulin and before eating foods with carbohydrate

Split Mixed Insulin Injection Therapy (NPH and regular insulins):

  • Two insulin injections per day (usually at breakfast and dinner)
  • Requires three meals and three snacks at specific times each day
  • A specific carbohydrate amount is eaten at each meal and snack
  • Check blood glucose before meals and before bedtime

Last Updated 04/2012