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Cystic fibrosis diabetes – what are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrate counting

You will be shown how to recognise the carbohydrates you are eating and how to adjust your insulin dose for them. This will allow you to have more control over blood glucose levels.

What are carbohydrates?

There are many factors that affect your blood glucose such as food, insulin, activity, illness, stress, and even the weather.

Carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose by the body and raise the blood glucose levels after a meal. Carbohydrate is the name given to both starches and sugars.

Carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose at different speeds. The sugary carbohydrate foods that are broken down quickly will raise the blood glucose quickly. Generally, starchy carbohydrates will break down and release glucose more slowly. We use the glycaemic index (GI) to measure this.

Carbohydrate containing foods

Starchy foods

  • Bread and other foods made from flour such as chapattis, crackers, pitta bread, sauces and soups, pastry and Yorkshire puddings*
  • Potatoes, crisps and chips
  • Rice, pasta, noodles, couscous, and bulgar wheat*
  • Breakfast cereals, and oats*
  • Starchy vegetables such as sweetcorn, plantain, yam and sweet potato, squash and parsnip.

* wholegrain or wholemeal varieties are healthier.

Some starchy foods such as beans and lentils contain very slow-release carbohydrates that can have less of an effect on your blood glucose. It is best to see how they affect you and we can help you to adjust your insulin.

Natural sugars

All fruit contains fructose (fruit sugar) and needs to be counted. In the same way, milk and milk products contain lactose (milk sugar) and this also needs to be counted.

  • Fruit including fresh, tinned, dried and juice
  • Milk
  • Yoghurt, fromage frais, yoghurt drinks, milkshake
  • Custard, rice pudding

 Sugary foods

  • Sugar, sugary drinks, chocolate, sweets, toffees and mints
  • Jam, marmalade, honey
  • Cakes, biscuits, desserts, sweet puddings and ice cream

 Foods containing very little or no carbohydrate

These foods will not affect your blood glucose:

  • Meat, fish, eggs, cheese and nuts
  • Fats such as cream, butter, margarine and oils
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressings
  • Most vegetables and salads
  • Pickles such as pickled onions
  • Flavourings such as salt, pepper, soy sauce, herbs and spices
  • Water, tea and coffee
  • ‘Diet’, ‘zero’ and sugar-free drinks
  • Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame K, Splenda, and Stevia

Contact us

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact:

Diabetes Line: 0114 271 7320
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Out of hours contact: 0114 271 7000

Mark Denial: 07971 907465
Will Marshall: 07920 500327

Rebekah Beer 0114 271 7212

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: DT13

Resource Type: Article

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