Question: What are the most important nutritional principles for someone with type 1 diabetes?
Answer: There are a number of important principles that people with type 1 diabetes need to be aware of when formulating a meal plan and following a meal plan. Probably the critical, most important one, it's really a foundational principle, is that the meal plan needs to be individualized. That plan needs to work for you as a person. It's fine if someone helps you develop a meal plan, but if it's not one that suits your likes and dislikes and the timing and the job and the lifestyle that you have, then it's not going to be a very effective meal plan. So the first principle is that it has to work for you; it has to be individualized.
There are three major nutrients that people have to pay attention to: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates are the most, the nutrient that has the most impact on your blood sugar, so that's one that certainly people do need to be aware of. It doesn't mean that you should be on a low-carbohydrate diet, and in fact it means that you need to know the amount of carbohydrates that are suitable for you at each meal. Again, (that's) why you need to work out a nutrition plan with a dietician or other healthcare professional who can help you with that. So once you are aware of the amount of carbohydrate that is most appropriate for you, you don't want to ignore protein and fat, the other two big macro-nutrients. Protein is important, it has a little bit of an impact on your blood glucose, but negligible for most people. But it's certainly one that you want to be aware of. Fat is certainly one to pay attention to, since it's the one that packs the most calories. And you also need to be aware of the kinds of fat that you're eating. Saturated fat, or the fat that's found in animal products, is the one that has the biggest impact on your risk for heart disease. So you want to, again, pay attention to those carbs, you want to pay attention to protein, and very much pay attention to the kinds of fat that you're eating.
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