Carbohydrate Counting for People with Diabetes
CARBOHYDRATE COUNTING FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
Carbohydrate Counting is a meal-planning tool for managing your blood glucose levels.
Any Carbohydrate food you eat is digested into glucose.
It is important to eat carbohydrates throughout the day because they provide energy and essential nutrients for your body.
CARBOHYDRATE CHOICES AND PORTION SIZES
A “carbohydrate choice” is a portion of food, like slice of bread that has 15 grams of carbohydrate (1 carbohydrate choice = 15 grams of carbohydrate).
The total carbohydrate from any food has about the same effect on blood glucose.
Measure or weigh foods to learn what common portion sizes look like. If you do not have access to a scale or measuring cup, these hand-estimated illustrations can help.
FOODS THAT CONTAIN CARBOHYDRATES:
Grains (breads, crackers, rice, hot and cold cereals, tortillas and noodles)
Starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, corn, winter squash, lentils and beans)
Fruit and juices
Milk and yogurt
Sweets and desserts
Non-starchy vegetables (carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes) contain only a small amount of carbohydrates and will not affect blood glucose when eaten in small portions.
CARB CHOICES FOR COMMON SERVING SIZES:
1 regular sandwich = 2 carb choices or about 30 grams of carbohydrates
1 6” sub sandwich = 3 carb choices, or about 45 grams of carbohydrates
1 cup cooked rice or pasta = 3 carb choices, or about 45 grams of carbohydrates
1 1 medium apple or banana = 2 carb choice or about 30 grams of carbohydrates
BETTER CARB CHOICES:
All carbs are not alike. Choose better carb choices, such as whole grain and less processed foods.
Select whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, and brown rice over white (refined) varieties. Experiment many types of whole grains, including quinoa, oatmeal, and barley.
Go for fruits instead of fruit juice or sugary foods.
Opt for beans and other legumes.
Select variety of vegetables such as cauliflower, tomato, carrots, and spinach (most vegetables are great choices).
HOW MUCH TO EAT?
Women: Many women need about 3-4 carbohydrate choices (45-60 grams) at each meal
Men: Many men need about 4-5 carbohydrate choices (60-75 grams) at each meal
Healthy eating is about more than just counting carbohydrates. It is important to eat balanced meals with an emphasis on vegetables and fruits. Eat variety of foods, including:
At least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables
At least 3 servings of whole grain
2-3 servings of low fat or fat free dairy.
Foods in the protein (including meat, poultry, and fish) and fat groups do not directly affect blood glucose. However, to keep your heart healthy, some healthy fats (like those found in nuts, seeds, and fish) can be helpful.
CALCULATE CARBOHYDRATE CHOICES
Divide the number of grams of total carbohydrate by 15 (because 1 carbohydrate choice = 15 grams of carbohydrate). Total carbohydrate = 10g
10 divided by 15 = 0.67 (round to 0.70). So, 1 serving (1 cup) = 0.70 carbohydrate choices.
If you eat the entire box, you would be eating 30 grams of total carbohydrate (3 servings x 10 grams total carbohydrates = 3 grams divided by 15 grams = 2 carbohydrates choices).
If you eat half the box, you would eat 15 grams total carbohydrate (30 grams divided by 2 equals 15 grams = 1 carbohydrate choice).
This article is just for your information. Always consult with your doctor and your registered dietitian regarding your diet.
By: Roseli Mastrocolla- Dietetic Intern
American Dietetic Association, Diabetes Care and Education