Just a drop ? 

I’ve been trying to figure out how to illustrate to everyone just how SMALL a unit of insulin actually is. I’ve written about it before (here) and wanted to try to take a picture this time but I am definitely not skilled enough to pull it off… I tried … epic FAIL 😉


So – here goes another attempt to describe it..


ONE unit of insulin can drop Eden’s blood sugar levels 130 points if given without food

ONE unit of insulin is a very small drop of liquid – much, much smaller than an image that comes to mind of a droplet of water

ONE unit of insulin is incredibly potent as described below




For Eden (remember all T1D are different)


    • At breakfast – ONE unit of insulin will cover eating 10 grams of carbohydrates

=  to half a piece of bread

    • At lunch – ONE unit of insulin will cover eating 15 grams of carbohydrates

= to a medium sized apple

    • After school – ONE unit of insulin will cover eating 16 grams of carbohydrates

= to a large sized nectarine

    • At dinner – ONE unit of insulin will cover eating 22 grams of carbohydrates

= to half a cup of pasta


These are referred to as CARB RATIOS and it is very common for Type 1 Diabetics to have different ones at different times of the day.


Think about our buffet dinner over the weekend for a moment and a few of the things on her plate and how EASILY something could go wrong…


1/2 cup pasta = 22gm

fruit = 10gm

salad = 0gm – not enough to bother with

pizza = 25gm

bread roll = 30gm

choc muffin = 50gm

cookie = 20gm

ice cream = 30gm


= TOTAL carbs = 187gm (YES – that is a LOT of carbs)


187gm divided by 22 (her dinner time carb ratio) = 8.5 units of insulin


This is just an illustration but please REMEMBER – ALL of these carb counts were total, complete and utter guesses… YES – we have been doing this for almost 4 years now – but we do NOT know the exact counts for these foods. If our guesses/ counts were off by 22gms (for example the pasta she did not eat) Eden would have received ONE full unit MORE of insulin than required – potentially dropping her blood sugar dangerously LOW..


How many carbs do you think were on your plate for dinner last night??? Try figuring it out day in day out – every.single.day.

exhausting … and that is just to EAT.. something the most of us do mindlessly



So… even though I cannot physically show you a picture of the small DROP of insulin I am describing – please know.. a DROP of insulin is MUCH MORE than just a drop..


Life saving – but could be just as easily be life threatening if too much is given. Eating is something that is done multiple times a day – but only a very small part of living with and balancing Type 1 Diabetes..


all day – every.single.day.



3 thoughts on “Just a drop ? 

  1. One of your very best posts! Very, very educational. Trying to figure out how and where to save for future ref. One question: What is “dinner time carb ratio”? You used 22 in your example.

    Sent from my iPad


    • that in fact IS Eden’s carb ratio from 6pm until midnight.
      If we were to have an early dinner – for example at 5.45pm – she would get more insulin for what she ate with a 1:16 carb ratio..
      another reason why routine helps! having meals at different times of the day makes a difference!

  2. Yes, it’s exhausting adding it all up! I made a salad — didn’t count lettuce but counted carbs for the dressing, croutons, tomatoes. We try to eat healthy non-processed foods — but sometimes it seems like it would be easier to give my daughter a Lean Cuisine every night and flip over the box for the nutritional info 😛

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