"Free" foods with carbs

We were taught that some foods like carrots are considered "free" meaning one doesn't need insulin to eat them.

My daughter snacks on them quite a bit but we are worrying they might be raising her glucose level if she eats them before bed.

Do you have any free foods that contain carbohydrates?


if it goes in my mouth, i bolus for it (i take 1u of insulin for every 5g carbs). but i do know there are some on here who count 'free' foods. typically, it's counted as 'free' if there are less than 5 carbs and/or less than 20 calories.

Yeah "free foods" are set portions that are low in carbs, so if she's eating handful after handful of carrots... it ain't free;). C's carb exchange is pretty low (or at least it sounds low to me) so even 5g is a lot for her, which is why she doses. My exchange is just about 15g per unit, so 5g isn't quite a big deal. So I'd say as long as she doesn't eat too many carrots... I think 6 baby carrots have about 5 carbs. (If she eats more than that she should take insulin. Some might recommend she take insulin anyway). I will also say that eating right before bed (2 hours or less) always gives me elevated sugars when i wake up (and spiking when I sleep).

And as for my free foods.... :-)

I love to stock my fridge with hard boiled eggs and string cheese. No carbs means easier snacking. At least, I don't think (and logic dictates) that those foods should not effect my blood sugar. Of course if I eat "real food" AFTER that I should be mindful of the fat in the cheese that could slow my absorption.... but i generally don't worry about it at all (sound right to the experts out there?)

Almonds and popcorn made with olive oil are some of my other favorite snacks (I never eat little enough for these foods to be "free", but that's only because I'm a pig).

I think about 3/4 a cup of popcorn is 5 carbs, and... maybe a 1/4 cup of almonds (about 25) is 5 carbs...

Your daughter is lucky to have you looking out for her!

To build on what John saidl, what's your daughter's insulin to carb ratio? I'm 1:3 at breakfast (blech, dawn phenomenon!!), so I'd need to bolus for a "free" food w/ 5 grams of carbs. But, at lunch, I'm currently 1:12, so I wouldn't bother for something that's only 5. Does that make sense?

It always depends on the amount.

My gram to insulin ratio is 1 unit for every 20 g/cb so like John said it wouldn't really affect me too much either if I at 4-5 carrots or a piece of string cheese.  But anything else eaten would come into play almost indefinitely.

I would keep an eye on her intake and decide whether to up the insulin, or down the carrots.  Whatever you decide, it's always a learning curve.

If its under 3-5 depending on current BG is when I consider something free or not. Riley is at a 1 unit for every 12 carbs but 5 if she is already high will raise her to high.

Wow, we have been lucky so far I guess. She has been able to eat up to 10 crabs free and only have a minor bump in her glucose level. Things are getting more difficult. 

I was told that if you have a snack that is 15 carbs or less 2 hrs. after you eat or every 2 hrs you don't have to bolus or correct for it. But i was also told to get an accurate bs reading you can't eat 2 hrs. before you test. 

Hi Caitlyn,


That is about what we were told for our little girl. It used to be okay but now it isn't working. She is having a hard time getting used to not being able to eat a low carb snack. It happened again today. It is so hard to get used to.



[quote user="Caitlyn"]

I was told that if you have a snack that is 15 carbs or less 2 hrs. after you eat or every 2 hrs you don't have to bolus or correct for it. But i was also told to get an accurate bs reading you can't eat 2 hrs. before you test. 


This is exactly what we were told while she was on MDI. She tested before each meal and was allowed a 15 gram snack between meals without testing. But once she started on the pump they told us to test and bolus for snacks as well.

Where's the free food? I'm hungry.

Terry, try a few nights of giving her truly 'free' foods - like string cheese or hard boiled egg. (I know, not so fun as a bedtime snack!) and then check her every 2-3 hours that night. She might require a bump in her basal insulin. Our son naturally spikes right after he falls asleep - our ped endo said they see this a lot in kids, that they fall asleep so hard that they get a rush of hormones working quickly after they fall asleep and need more basal insulin then. He is on a pump now and his basal rate for 8pm- 2am is over 2x what is during most of the rest of the day.

I'd talk with your clinic about ways to manage it, she might just need a little boost of insulin at bedtime no matter what kind of snack she has. And if that's the case, she might as well have one that she likes and just take the extra insulin for it.