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Carbohydrate counting is a skill that can help you plan your diet to manage type 2 diabetes and control your blood sugar. This technique helps you determine the amount of sugar and starch (carbohydrate) in the foods you eat so you can spread carbohydrate throughout the day, preventing high blood sugar after meals. Carbohydrate counting gives you the flexibility to eat what you want and increases your sense of control and confidence in managing your diabetes.
Carbohydrate counting is one method of meal planning for people who have diabetes. Carbohydrate counting means adding up the amount of carbohydrate in your food. Limiting carbohydrates when you eat helps prevent high blood sugar, because carbohydrate affects your blood sugar more than other nutrients. All forms of carbohydrate increase your blood sugar. Foods that contain carbohydrate include:
Foods that have sugar usually have more total carbohydrate per serving than foods that have starch. You can eat foods that have sugar when you have diabetes, but if you eat a lot of them, you are probably not eating enough of other more nutritious foods.
You can use low-calorie artificial sweeteners that don't have sugar (such as Splenda or NutraSweet). You can eat foods that have sugar alcohols (such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol), which are sweeteners sometimes used in "sugar-free" processed foods such as candies, cookies, and soft drinks. Treat sugar alcohols as carbohydrates, though for many people they don't affect blood sugar that much. They do contain some calories but less than sugar. Be careful using sugar alcohols, especially with children, because sugar alcohols sometimes cause diarrhea.
Carbohydrate counting helps you know how much carbohydrate you are eating during a meal.
Carbohydrate counting helps you know how much carbohydrate you are eating during a meal. Carbohydrate is the nutrient that most affects your blood sugar. Carbohydrate counting allows you to spread the amount you eat throughout the day to prevent high blood sugar after meals.
Carbohydrate counting does help you know how much carbohydrate you are eating during a meal. Carbohydrate is the nutrient that most affects your blood sugar. Carbohydrate counting allows you to spread the amount you eat throughout the day to prevent high blood sugar after meals.
Which of these foods contain carbohydrate?
Wheat bread, rice, peas, and oatmeal all contain starch, a form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is an essential nutrient that comes in two forms: starch and sugar. Starch is found in foods such as bread, cereal, grains, and vegetables. Sugar is found in fruit, milk, desserts, and candy. Both answers are correct.
Cheesecake, skim milk, and pears all contain sugar, a form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is an essential nutrient that comes in two forms: starch and sugar. Starch is found in foods such as bread, cereal, grains, and vegetables. Sugar is found in fruit, milk, desserts, and candy. Both answers are correct.
Carbohydrate counting helps you know how much carbohydrate you are eating. The more carbohydrate you eat at one time, the higher your blood sugar level will rise. Eating less carbohydrate at one time can help keep your blood sugar levels within your target range, preventing low or high blood sugar.
Both low and high blood sugar levels can cause emergencies. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage many body tissues and organs. If you have gestational diabetes, high blood sugar levels can increase your risk for complications that can affect your health as well as your baby's health.
You also can count carbohydrate grams if you take insulin.
Counting carbohydrate helps me know how much fat and protein I am eating.
Counting carbohydrate grams does not help you know how much fat and protein you are eating. Carbohydrate counting helps you know how much starch and sugar you are eating. The more carbohydrate you eat at one meal, the higher your blood sugar level will rise after the meal.
Carbohydrate counting grams does not help you know how much fat and protein you are eating. Carbohydrate counting helps you know how much starch and sugar you are eating. The more carbohydrate you eat at one meal, the higher your blood sugar level will rise.
Count carbohydrate and eat a balanced diet by:
Here are some other suggestions that will help you count carbohydrate:
It is a good idea to measure out food portions when you first start carb counting.
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to plan regular meals and snacks and calculate the amount of carbohydrate in your diet.
If you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator. You may want to write down any questions you have.
If you need help with carbohydrate counting or meal planning, ask to speak with a registered dietitian. If you have been writing in a food record, take it with you.
If you would like more information on meal planning for people who have diabetes, the following resources are available:
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics|
|120 South Riverside Plaza|
|Chicago, IL 60606-6995|
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sets standards for all types of prescribed diets. The organization produces a variety of consumer information, including videos. This group will help you find a registered dietitian in your area who provides nutrition counseling.
|American Diabetes Association (ADA)|
|1701 North Beauregard Street|
|Alexandria, VA 22311|
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a national organization for health professionals and consumers. Almost every state has a local office. ADA sets the standards for the care of people with diabetes. Its focus is on research for the prevention and treatment of all types of diabetes. ADA provides patient and professional education mainly through its publications, which include the monthly magazine Diabetes Forecast, books, brochures, cookbooks and meal planning guides, and pamphlets. ADA also provides information for parents about caring for a child with diabetes.
More information about diabetes can be found in these topics:
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Other Works Consulted
- American Diabetes Association (2008). Nutrition recommendations and interventions for diabetes. Diabetes Care, 31(Suppl 1): S61–S78.
- American Diabetes Association (2013). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2013. Diabetes Care, 36(Suppl 1): S11–S66.
- Campbell AP, Beaser RS (2010). Medical nutrition therapy. In RS Beaser, ed., Joslin's Diabetes Deskbook: A Guide for Primary Care Providers, 2nd ed., pp. 91–136. Boston: Joslin Diabetes Center.
- Franz MJ (2012). Medical nutrition therapy for diabetes mellitus and hypoglycemia of nondiabetic origin. In LK Mahan et al., eds., Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process, 13th ed., pp. 675–710. St Louis: Saunders.
Last Revised: June 24, 2013
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