Most of the food consumed by us is converted to a form of sugar in our body. This sugar is also known as glucose. Insulin allows this sugar to enter all the cells of your body for use as energy. Due to non production of insulin by the body, the built up of sugar in the body could lead to damage of internal organs, the nervous system and blood vessels. Type 1 diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. Since, it usually affects children and teenagers; it is also referred as juvenile diabetes though adults also have it.

It is an autoimmune disorder wherein the body’s own cells are considered as foreign bodies and are attacked and self destroyed. It is a life threatening condition that requires administration of insulin, in addition to proper diet.

Type 1 diabetes must be monitored and managed on a daily basis including monitoring blood glucose frequently, following a healthy lifestyle and food plan. All people affected by diabetes are recommended to eat a healthy and balanced diet. However, patients with Type 1 diabetes need to raise the bar more than just eat healthily. The quantity, type and timing of foods are just as important as ensuring a daily intake of fruit and vegetables.

Since, the body does not produce insulin in this condition; it has to be injected in privacy in order to keep the blood glucose level close to normal after eating to deal with the food in the stomach. It is also important that the injection is timed right, so that the insulin arrives in the bloodstream at the same time that the glucose from the digested food is being absorbed.

A healthy and balanced diet coupled with adequate water is an effective treatment for diabetes. Complex carbohydrates, in the form of fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses and whole grains are recommended. Healthy fats like monounsaturated fats are useful in treatment. Trans fats and saturated fatty acids are to be avoided. A diet low in fat, low in salt and low in added sugars is the best for Type-1 diabetics, consisting of lots of complex carbohydrates (like whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta), fruits and vegetables. Such diets help to control blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It’s also important to control the portion size to maintain a healthy weight. Counting and having the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal ensures stabilization of blood sugar levels especially when on insulin. The overall effect of a meal on the blood glucose level depends on the different varieties of foods included in the meal.

Animal foods are restricted as they are a rich source of saturated fats, and most of them are invisible. Similarly the intake of sweets and alcoholic beverages should also be limited.

Physical activity plays a vital role in being healthy and controls blood glucose levels. Complications of diabetes include heart disease, blindness, high blood pressure, nerve damage, diabetic retinopathy (which can lead to blindness), amputation, and kidney failure. However, maintaining a tight control over diabetes is required to help reduce the risk of long-term complications. It is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle if diagnosed with any form of diabetes.

Timely consultations with a dietitian or nutritionist will help in preparing an exchange plan, or to learn how to count carbohydrate, fat, and proteins.  Limiting refined carbohydrates is something all diabetics should strive for.