it isn’t news that carbohydrates raise your glucose levels. Most people
with diabetes count carbs. However, I see a lot of clients “guestimate”
their carbs. While this may work for some people, for people who take
insulin with meals or who have type 1 diabetes this isn’t good enough.
Here are some steps to take for precise carb counting.
1. Read the nutrition facts panel
people may still count carbs using exchanges. An example of exchanges
is counting one slice of bread or 6 ounces of light yogurt as 15 grams
of carb. This isn’t wrong but it isn’t exact either. There are so many
different brands of bread and yogurt. Read the food label and use the
numbers on the nutrition facts panel to find the exact grams of carb.
Don’t forget to read the serving size too.
2. Know about fiber and sugar alcohol subtraction
that have more fiber are going to be higher in carbs because the fiber
is included in the total carbohydrate count on the food label. Don’t shy
away from the higher fiber foods though. Fiber
is digested differently and slows down the rise in blood glucose. The
American Diabetes Association recommends subtracting one-half of the
fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carb count, but only when the
total of either is greater than 5 grams per serving. For example, if one
serving of cereal contains 32 grams of carb and 8 grams of fiber, the
carbs after subtraction would be 24 grams.
3. Use measuring cups and a food scale
The only way to count exact carbs is to use measuring cups or a food scale to portion out foods. Measuring
cups will suffice for most foods, but for foods like fresh fruit that
don’t have a food label and are measured in ounces you really need a
4. Make use of technology
to smart phones and laptops, you can use apps or websites to help you
with carb counting. But, don’t always rely on the app to tell you
everything. Still use the food label when you have it. Take it even one
step further and use technology to keep a daily food log where you
can learn more about your diet than just the carbs.
5. Think simple
you are struggling with carb counting, go back a step. Eat at home
instead of eating out and focus on “plain” foods (meat, starch,
vegetable) instead of combination foods (soup or casserole) so you can
measure them. Try this for a while until you are more comfortable with
The best thing you can do is to continue to educate yourself on how to eat with diabetes. To get some help with this, see a registered dietitian. Try counting exact carbs and see if you learn something new!