Type 1 Diabetes Community
A guide for adults with type 1 diabetes

Carb Counting

It’s important to keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a ‘diabetes diet’. With the help of your health care professionals, you can tailor your insulin treatments to suit your diet and lifestyle (you can still eat out and be spontaneous when you have type 1 diabetes!) and ensure that your blood glucose levels stay in control.

A key component of managing your insulin regime is learning ‘carb-counting’.  That’s because you need to match your insulin intake to your carb intake to ensure that you achieve the target range for blood glucose levels. 

Everyone’s insulin-to-carb ratio is different, and your health care professionals will help you figure out how many units of insulin you need for each ‘exchange’ of carbs. An ‘exchange’ is normally 10 or 15 grams of carbs, or a third of a cup of cooked pasta, two taco shells, 250ml of milk, or a slice of sandwich bread. Counting all the exchanges in a meal will help you decide how much insulin to take with each meal. 


Jane’s health care professional recommends an insulin regime of one dose of long-acting insulin at night, and short-acting insulin for meals and corrections. She is recommended to have two units of insulin per exchange of carbs that she eats.

For breakfast, Jane has two Weetbix (three exchanges) in 250ml of milk (one exchange) and a medium-sized banana (one and a half exchange). To cover this meal, Jane injects eleven units of insulin to match her insulin intake to her food intake. 

The important thing to remember is that carb-counting and insulin-to-carb ratios are different for everyone. Your health care professional can recommend the best insulin program for you. 

Want to learn more about carb counting and other type 1 diabetes topics?

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