Diabetes and Nutrition

The nutritional needs of a child with diabetes are no different than a child without diabetes. All children need a healthy diet which 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.

There are two main types of insulin:

  1. 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
  2. Split Mixed Insulin Injection Therapy (NPH and Regular Insulins):
    • Two insulin injections per day (usually at breakfast and supper)
    • Requires 3 meals and 3 snacks at specific times each day
    • A specific carbohydrate amount at each meal and snack
    • Check blood glucose before meals and before bedtime

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

Foods that contain carbohydrates include:


  • Bread
  • Cereal (sweetened and unsweetened)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn


  • Fresh fruit
  • Frozen fruit
  • Canned fruit
  • Fruit juices


  • Milk
  • Yogurt


  • 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 and web sites.